When it comes to jewelry, we have no dearth of metal options. But certain metals are preferred due to their appearance and durability. Which are the commonly used metals to make jewelry? Check them out in this Fashionhance article.
Ferrous vs. Non-ferrous
Metals which contain iron, like stainless steel, are called ferrous metals. And metals like copper, brass, silver, which do not contain iron are called non-ferrous metals. Both ferrous and non-ferrous metals are used for making jewelry.
Metals have been used to make jewelry since ancient times. When we think of jewelry, the first metal that comes to our mind is definitely gold. The next on the list is silver. Platinum is also in demand nowadays, and is an excellent option for contemporary jewelry designs. But do you know that stainless steel, copper, brass, and titanium are also used to make jewelry.
We discuss common metals used in jewelry making in this Fashionhance write-up.
Common Metals Used in Jewelry Making
It would not be an exaggeration to say that people are obsessed with gold. Gold jewelry is the most sought-after jewelry in the world. Although many other metals like platinum and silver are increasingly becoming desirable, gold still takes the cake worldwide. Gold is a very soft metal and cannot be used in its pure form to make jewelry. Hence, different metals are added to increase its strength sturdy. Gold alloys with varying percentages of pure gold are available. Karat is the unit of gold purity.
24 Karat: 99.9% Pure
22 Karat: 91.7% Pure
18 Karat: 75% Pure
14 Karat: 58.3% Pure
12 Karat: 50% Pure
10 Karat: 41.7% Pure
★ Gold Vermeil: Highest quality gold is plated on sterling silver. This is a cheaper option to gold jewelry.
★ Gold-plated: Gold is electroplated on metals like brass or steel. A thin layer of gold forms on these metals. But this layer wears off easily over time.
★ Gold-filled: Gold is bonded to base metals. It is a better option than gold plating and tends to last slightly longer.
★ White Gold: White gold is made by mixing pure gold with metals like zinc, nickel, or platinum. It is very durable and looks elegant. It goes well with western wear. It is resistant to tarnish but can be a little brittle. People allergic to nickel should avoid wearing white gold.
★ Rose Gold: It is a reddish gold made by combining gold and copper. The exact proportions of gold and copper will vary. If you want a more reddish tone, you can choose one which has more copper.
The biggest advantage of gold jewelry is that it can be used to make any jewelry. Right from rings to necklaces to bracelets to bangles. Depending on your budget and choice, you can choose the best type for your needs.
The luster of silver makes it a much favored option for making jewelry. But pure silver is very soft and can tarnish easily. Thus, other metals are added to make it.
★Sterling Silver: It is an alloy of 92.5% silver and any other metal or metals. But the major portion of the remaining 7.5% is copper. Sterling silver jewelry is popular because it can be bright as well dark.
★ Britannia Silver: It contains 95.84% silver, and hence, is much more valuable than sterling silver.
★ Fine Silver: 99.9% pure silver is called fine silver. It is very soft, and it is difficult to make hard and durable jewelry from it.
★ Silver Fill: A base is coated with a layer of fine or sterling silver, This is a cheaper option to silver jewelry. But, the biggest drawback is that the layer wears off easily.
Silver makes an ideal metal to make pendants, necklaces, bracelets or dress rings. Remember, if you are not going to wear the jewelry everyday or for long periods of time, then you can use silver.
The rarest and the most expensive metal used to make jewelry is platinum. It is also heavier and denser than other metals, making it a perfect choice for jewelry that can be adorned for a longer period of time. Platinum has a sophisticated appeal and is admired by all, in spite of its price. Another characteristic of platinum is that it does not tarnish.
The most commonly used platinum alloy has 95% platinum and 5% ruthenium. 90% platinum and 10% iridium is also used. These alloys have more shine and a bright look. Platinum is marked with a number between 800 – 1000. This indicates the percentage of pure platinum used. For example 900 means 90% pure platinum.
Platinum rings―engagement and wedding rings or bands―are very popular. Just like your love, your platinum ring will last forever. It also complements diamonds really well and looks extremely classy. The only drawback could be its exorbitant price. But platinum is absolutely worth it.
Although not as widely used as gold or silver, stainless steel jewelry does exist. It does not have a shine or luster but gives a metallic effect. It is used to make men’s jewelry. Stainless steel gives an industrial and steampunk look to the jewelry.
304L stainless steel is used to make jewelry. It has 18 – 20% chromium, 8 – 12% nickel, 0.03% carbon and the rest is iron and other trace elements. Many people are allergic to nickel, hence stainless steel, which does not contain nickel, is also used to make jewelry. It is a good option as it is highly durable and does not tarnish or rust easily.
Opt for stainless steel jewelry if you are looking for experimental pieces. Stainless steel is used to make men’s jewelry.
Palladium is a white metal belonging to the platinum family of metals. It is sturdy, durable and has a silvery shine like platinum. It is slightly less expensive than platinum, and is used to make wedding or engagement rings.
Another prestigious member of the platinum family, rhodium is a rare metal. Very little quantity of rhodium is mined each year, making it extremely expensive. It is a white metal and is used to make wedding and engagement rings. It does not tarnish at all and is very durable. Silver jewelry plated with rhodium is well liked as it is sturdy and affordable as well. The cost of rhodium is almost ten times that of gold.
Titanium being the hardest natural metal, its jewelry will outlast all other metals. Plus, it is very light in weight and 100% hypoallergenic. Titanium jewelry does require much maintenance and is available in a variety of colors. The only drawback is its cost.
This silver-gray metal is a favorite among men. Tungsten carbide, a compound of tungsten and carbon, is used to make jewelry. It is a very hard metal and can be scratched only by diamond. An advantage of tungsten jewelry is that it is hypoallergenic. But, there are limited jewelry options in tungsten, restricting its popularity.
Copper is one of the oldest known metals. It is reddish in color with warm brown tones. It tends to take on a greenish hue due to oxidation. It can also stain the skin if worn in close proximity like a tight ring. It is an inexpensive metal and considered to possess healing properties.
Brass is used in different jewelry, but tends to tarnish over time. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. Usually, brass is used to make bracelets and earrings. Since brass resembles gold in its appearance, it is very popular.
Nickel, along with other metals, is mixed with gold to make white gold. It is added to different alloys as it is a good whitening agent and increases strength and durability. Nickel is also used to make cheap jewelry. Although inexpensive, nickel has a big drawback. Many people are allergic to nickel, and develop rashes due to its prolonged use.
Factors to Consider
The main point to consider when choosing a metal for jewelry is the appearance. While many people lust for the rich, elegant look that gold jewelry possesses, silver suits better on the modern attire. Platinum gives a very classy look, whereas copper or brass jewelry has a rustic, vintage look.
The cost factor will definitely matter. The precious metals: gold, silver, and platinum are very costly. Even titanium is a costly metal. Depending on what jewelry you intend to make, you can choose the best option that suits your budget.
Jewelry that is worn regularly, like rings, need to be sturdy, whereas occasionally adorned necklaces can be delicate.