While jewellery is often a matter of personal taste, it is always nice to know a little about the materials that are used to make fine jewellery before you buy. And when it comes to raw materials, one group that is as diverse as it impressive is the group of precious metals. But what are the different types of precious metals? To help you better understand and to make a more informed decision, here is a brief but helpful guide to precious metals.
Few precious metals over the centuries have been as coveted and treasured as yellow gold. Long considered a symbol of status and wealth, its golden hue has always been a popular choice among jewellery lovers. Pure yellow gold is much too soft and malleable for jewellery; only when you mix it with other metals will it become strong enough for jewellery use.
Rose Gold achieves its blush hue through the mixing of gold and copper. How much copper is used will decide whether it is rose, red, or pink gold. As well as being durable and scratch-resistant, the subtle colour palette of rose gold makes it a popular choice for bridal jewellery.
White Gold is made by mixing gold with another white metal such as silver or nickel. As well as being extremely durable and less expensive than traditional yellow gold, white gold has a brilliant, lustrous appearance, which has made it a popular choice for use in jewellery and watches. It also has the added bonus of being hypoallergenic, which makes it ideal for anyone with sensitive skin.
Platinum is a rare, lustrous white metal which—unlike gold—is used in jewellery in almost pure form. It is highly-sought after due to its rarity, its ability to conduct heat and electricity, and it durability (it is resistant to corrosion and oxidation). Platinum is among the heaviest materials on Earth, with a density far higher than gold or silver. However, it is easy to scratch, which means that any jewellery that uses platinum needs regular maintenance.
As the hardest natural metal in the world, Titanium is also lightweight, attractive, and hypoallergenic, making it a popular choice for use in jewellery. Compared with gold, silver, and platinum, it is stronger and more dent and scratch-resistant. It’s important to note, though, that titanium cannot be soldered, which means a titanium ring cannot be resized.
Silver is a metal of white-grey colour that is much softer than other metals like gold, platinum, and titanium. For centuries, it has been used in a jewellery and decorative items, particularly ones that have intricate details. However, silver is prone to oxidation, which can turn the silver black; to prevent this from happening, any silver jewellery must be cleaned regularly.
Mokume-gane is a centuries-old Japanese metalworking technique. It layers different metals such as gold, silver, and copper to create patterns that resemble those seen in wood (Mokume-Gane, roughly translated in Japanese, means ‘wood-grain metal’). Mokume-Gane jewellery is highly sought after, as the technique produces unique results every time.