Metal Buyer’s Guide
Yellow GoldEverybody knows how precious gold is. Its qualities make it ideal and indispensable for jewelry. Golds many uses stem from its incredible malleability & ductility, meaning it can be shaped and stretched easily. Because of it's resistance to chemical changes, gold doesn’t tarnish as easily as some other metals. Of course, the color as well as the physical properties means gold has been used for decoration throughout history and amongst many cultures. If you want a traditional wedding ring that is resistant to tarnishing, then yellow gold is the choice for you.
White GoldAs gold is normally yellow, the white sheen is achieved by alloying the gold with another metal such as nickel, palladium, platinum or silver and then plating the ring with rhodium. The more gold that is contained in the alloy, the more yellow the ‘white’ gold will appear in color, meaning that 18karat white gold is naturally more yellow than 14karat. This is why white gold rings are traditionally plated with rhodium – to get the whitest possible finish. Rhodium also helps protect the ring from wear and tear. Some people have concerns about allergic reactions from nickel in jewelry, but in the case of white gold, the rhodium plating will help prevent this from happening.
PalladiumIf you want a wedding ring made from a precious metal with beautiful color and hard-wearing properties but don’t want to spend as much as you would on platinum, palladium is the choice for you. It is a relatively rare metal, cherished for its lustrous silvery-white finish and because it has similar looks and properties as platinum. Palladium is resistant to corrosion and, unlike the less-expensive silver, will not tarnish in air. For the traditional or superstitious amongst you, the word ‘palladium’ means a guardian or a charm to protect or preserve, so palladium rings are thought to be good luck for a lasting lifetime of marital happiness.
PlatinumPlatinum is a favorite for use because it resists wear and corrosion and because it is hypo-allergenic. When scratched, the metal is displaced rather than lost, so the volume of metal remains the same. Platinum used in jewelry is an alloy and is mixed with other metals to refine its characteristics. A majority of platinum rings have a purity of 95%; the remaining 5% comprises of a second metal which can vary depending on the manufacturer. During World War II, the availability of platinum was limited since it was declared as a strategic metal. Use of platinum for most non-military applications was prohibited.
Sterling SilverSilver is a popular choice for jewelry because it polishes to a beautiful mirror finish. Another reason that silver is a favorite choice for jewelry is that it costs less than other metals – it is more abundant in nature and is easy to shape. However, silver is a soft metal that is easily scratched or tarnished, and rings need to be able to withstand a lot. Silver can be affected by the acid present in the natural oils your skin produces. The acidity of skin varies from person to person. For this reason, the way the ring ages depends a lot on the wearer.
TitaniumTitanium wedding rings are growing in popularity because they don’t tarnish at room temperature and are very strong. Titanium is abundant in nature (which helps keep price down), but it is difficult to shape – the techniques needed to refine it enough to shape for jewelry have only recently been developed. This hardness means that resizing rings made from titanium are impossible, so please be sure of your size before buying. Titanium is non-toxic, which means it’s excellent for those with allergies or sensitive skin. It is resilient against sea water and chlorine so is ideal for those who will want to wear their ring when swimming.
TungstenTungsten carbide (a chemical compound of tungsten and carbon) in wedding rings is fast becoming popular due to its lustrous color that polishes to an attractive mirror finish and the fact that it is the hardest metal used in jewelry. Of course, no metal is completely impervious to harm, but tungsten will resist scratches far better than other materials. The downside of this toughness is that it cannot be sized. Contrary to some people’s beliefs, tungsten carbide can be removed from the finger in the case of a medical emergency. While tungsten carbide can’t be sawed off in the same way as gold or silver, it can be removed by cracking the metal in a vice or pliers.
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