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Understanding Jewelry Metals - Platinum, Gold and Silver

You know the kind of stone your engagement ring (or other type of ring) will be, but aren’t as certain when it comes to the metal type. 18K gold, platinum, white gold, rose gold, what do they all mean? Wonder no more – today’s blog will explain everything you need to know so you’ll be better equipped to make a well-informed decision.

The most popular and well-known types of jewelry metals are platinum and gold. People getting engaged and married with a diamond (or similar precious gemstone) ring choose these metals for good reason. Which one is best for you will depend on several factors, namely, the color you want, your daily lifestyle (will you be manhandling your ring?) and the amount you want to spend.


Platinum is a white metal with cool tones and is the most precious of all jewelry metals. It’s not only more expensive than gold, it’s also heavier and considerably rarer. It does not fade, tarnish or oxidize, making it the perfect metal for mounting a diamond. Like gold, platinum is shiny but harder and thus more durable. If your ring will contain intricate scrollwork details or engraving, consider having it done in platinum since the final result will be impressive in its sharpness and precision. Platinum jewelry is 90% to 95% pure – you are certainly getting what you paid for with this choice of metal.

platinum ring

Platinum, however, is susceptible to wear and tear – that means your ring can and will be scratched as time passes. Not to worry, though – your platinum ring can be polished by a jeweler to get rid of the scratches. Platinum is the way to go if you like cool or silver tones in your jewelry and insist on a durable ring at the same time.


Gold is probably the most popular go-to choice for engagement rings and rings and jewelry in general. When people think of gold, the first image that comes to mind is usually yellow gold. There are additional options for gold beyond just yellow gold. The particular alloy that is mixed with gold determines the final color of gold.

The measurement of gold purity is karats – which is different from carats, the measurement of diamond weight. Karats have 24 parts – thus 24 parts of gold (24K gold) is pure. The disadvantage of 24K gold, though, is that it is very soft and therefore can be damaged easily.

The more popular types of gold to use for jewelry are 18K gold and 14K gold – these are alloyed (mixed) with other kinds of metal to increase its durability.

18K gold is 75% gold

14K gold is 58% gold

10K gold is 42% gold

24K gold is a rich golden yellow while 14K gold (literally) pales in comparison as a lighter, softer yellow. In the United States, the minimum requirement to sell jewelry as gold is 10K.

Gold rings can be kept shiny by gently buffing with a jewelry cloth.

Yellow Gold

To obtain yellow gold, pure gold is mixed with silver and copper. Yellow gold is perfect for those who favor warm colors.

White Gold

White gold is the result of pure gold mixed with palladium and silver (or nickel, copper and zinc). White gold is rhodium-plated for increased whiteness and durability. Rhodium-plated white gold resists scratching and tarnishing and lends white gold its shiny appearance. The downside of rhodium plating is that it can wear away and will need to be re-plated by your jeweler. This metal choice is ideal for the woman who tends to stick with cool tones (and particularly enjoys silver jewelry). White gold and platinum look quite similar – you will notice the difference between the two usually only when you physically handle the two as platinum is heavier than gold.

Rose Gold/Pink Gold

Rose gold has been trending on the jewelry scene for quite some time. Rose gold is a combination of pure yellow gold and copper. The degree of red color is determined by the amount of copper in the mix – more copper results in redder color. Rose gold is also perfect for those who prefer warmer colors.

Sterling Silver

Silver is the most affordable of the “Big Three” precious metals. It may come as a surprise, then, to know that this metal was once considered more valuable than gold!

Sterling silver is pure silver mixed with copper, or another metal, to make it harder and hence more durable than pure silver. Nonetheless, sterling silver is considerably softer and less durable than gold and platinum. Sterling silver is not typically a popular choice for engagement rings since it tends to get scratched up easily, as well as oxidize/tarnish. Sterling silver is usually stamped .925 to indicate it contains the required 92.5% pure silver.

If you have additional questions, please contact us. We're happy to assist!

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