Know Your Metals? 9ct Gold to Platinum
All gold is yellow naturally. However white and rose (also called red) gold have alloys mixed with them to produce their particular colours. Pure gold is measured as 24 carats (24/24 parts, so full gold), and is usually too soft for use in jewellery. It is alloyed with other metals–silver, copper, nickel, and zinc–to increase its strength and durability.
White gold is usually turned white through the addition of nickel alloys and usually plated with a rhodium coating that wears over time. It will usually begin to patina as it returns to its natural colour, so the metal may look more yellow with age. This can be a lovely effect that’s unique to each piece of jewellery and its wear. Though often palladium can be added instead of nickel by modern methods. White gold can also be returned to white by a jeweller.
9ct Yellow, Rose & White Gold
Probably the most popular carat of gold in the UK. The majority of reasonably priced solid gold items are likely to be 9ct gold. This is around 37.5% pure alloy of gold, silver and copper. The amount of gold is less than 50% so it can be an affordable option for everyday gold items.
14ct Yellow, Rose & White Gold
Another popular choice of gold for jewellery lovers. As with lower carat gold, this is alloyed with other metals such as silver, copper and zinc. Which increase both strength and durability.
14ct white gold is not as white as platinum and many people prefer the slightly warmer white of white gold over platinum’s grayer white. Particularly in modern jewellery.
18ct Yellow, Rose & White Gold
This gold generally has a richer gold colour dye to its higher percentage of pure gold. This can also make it softer than lower carat jewellery. Though modern techniques have increased its durability. However 18ct gold can also be around 3x more expensive than 9ct gold.
Other Popular Metals
A highly durable material, which was once a popular choice for precious gemstone settings due to its strength to keep them in place. It is approximately 35 x rarer than gold and carries a price tag of around 2x more expensive than 18ct gold. Platinum is a white metal with a greyish colouration that lacks the warmth of white gold and carries its own cool tone. It can be a popular earring choice, especially for hoops.
Naturally silver-white , Palladium is lighter and less expensive than Platinum, yet still carries the beauty of a white metal. It has a more expensive look than silver, though is a softer metal so a little less durable than Platinum for instance. It can also be used in the process of making white gold.
This is karat gold (eg 14k gold) bonded by heat to a base metal. For example, our 14k gold and 14k rose-filled jewellery have a brass core. The minimum amount of gold allowed to describe an item as gold filled is 1/20 of the item’s total weight.
A classic alloy with a long history of use in jewellery. Often called 925 silver, due to being 92.5% pure silver mixed with 7.5% other metals, which is usually copper and gives it strength. Pure silver is much softer and usually not suited to jewellery forming.
A more recent addition to the silver metal family, this alloy is 935 silver, or 93.5% silver. It has a brighter white silver colour and more silver in it. It is also lower allergen and lower tarnish than sterling silver.