Jewellery is adornments worn to accessorise your look, uplift your personality and add value. PureJewels are pioneers in providing excellent quality and aesthetics to your jewels, and this is our attempt to educate and curb your curiosity on what goes into making these beauties.
What are the different types of metals used to make jewellery?
One of the essential raw materials for making jewellery is metals. Various types and kinds of metals are used to form intricates and delicates that you proudly adorn. The four primary precious metals are gold, silver, platinum and palladium. Precious metals are naturally occurring metallic chemical elements, their rarity and hardships involved in procuring them for our use makes them of high economic value that fluctuates as per the economics of demand and supply. Historically, precious metals were important as currency but are now regarded mainly as adornments, investments and industrial commodities. Due to their high economic value, these metals are sold with Hallmarking, which is a way to identify their authenticity and quality. All jewellery made in the UK – if it contains more than the threshold of precious metal – must now legally be hallmarked.
What is an alloy?
An alloy is a homogeneous mixture of two or more metals or a metal and a non-metal. It is formed by first melting the metal and then dissolving the other elements in it. Alloys are added to other metals to increase the strength and resistance to corrosion.
Before we talk about gold colours, it’s essential to know what creates the colours and different alloys mixed with pure gold. The purest form of Gold is also the softest which is why certain alloys like silver, copper, zinc and palladium are used. It reduces the gold content and helps the metal become a little hard and easy to mould into different shapes and sizes of jewellery. It also helps secure various stones like diamonds and other gemstones in place for a longer period. Pure gold is slightly reddish yellow in colour, but coloured gold in various other colours can be produced by alloying gold with other elements. Alloys with silver and copper in various proportions make white, yellow, green and pink/rose gold. These are malleable alloys that make intricate designs in jewellery making possible.
What is Carat (Karat)?
A Carat (also spelt as Karat in many countries, not to be confused with carat(ct) that is used to measure diamonds) is a measure of the fineness of gold. A gold carat is 1/24 part or 4.1667 per cent of the whole and the purity of a gold alloy is expressed as the number of these parts of gold it contains. Thus, an object that contains 16 parts gold and 8 parts alloying metal is 16-karat gold, and pure gold is 24-carat gold. The higher the carat in a gold item, the purer the gold in it would be. Be it moulded into coins, bars or precious jewellery; gold is available in a variety of karats, and these karats are used differently.
Below is a simple guide to various gold carats available in the market:
24ct Gold –
The 100 per cent pure gold is 24-carat gold, as it doesn’t include any traces of other metals. It is said to be 99.9 per cent pure in the market and has a slightly reddish yellow colour.
22ct Gold –
The 22-carat gold is commonly used in making regular jewellery. In 22 carat gold 22 parts of pure gold are used while the other two parts constitute other metals.
In 22ct gold, only 91.67 per cent is pure gold. The remaining 8.33 per cent consist of metals like silver, zinc, nickel or other alloys. Although it is used in making plain gold jewellery, 22ct gold isn’t a preferable form to make any heavy studded gold jewellery.
18ct Gold –
18-carat gold comprises 75 per cent pure gold mixed with 25 per cent of other metals like copper or silver, etc. Highly suitable for making studded and diamond jewellery. Jewellery made out of 18ct gold is suitable to wear daily. Its warm yellow shine makes it perfect for wedding rings and similar jewellery pieces.
14ct Gold –
14-carat gold is produced from 58.3 per cent pure gold and a 41.7 per cent mixture of other metals like copper, zinc, silver and nickel. With only 14 parts of gold out of 24, it’s usually less expensive than other higher karats of gold. The presence of a higher amount of alloyed metals makes 14ct gold more resistant to wear and tear. And as it is harder, more durable and less likely to cause any skin allergies, it is ideal for making daily-wear jewellery, especially for an active lifestyle.
9ct Gold –
9-carat gold is an alloy of gold that contains at least 37.5% of gold and the rest is other alloys such as silver, nickel or zinc. The amount of alloyed metals is higher than that of pure gold, i.e. 62.5%, which makes it less precious and more vulnerable to tarnish. It has 9 parts of gold out of 24. This form of gold is very sturdy, not too soft and doesn’t scratch or bend easily.
It is the most malleable form of gold and has a paler tone than other carats. Because of its durability in terms of quality and simplicity, 9ct gold is often used in simple chains, rings and other items that are easy to wear every day.
So, which type of gold is best for your jewellery? Honestly, there is no such thing as ‘the best type of gold’ for anyone. It merely depends on what kind of jewellery you are going for and how often will you be wearing it! All of the above forms of gold have their uniqueness and desirability. So whether you decide to go for 9ct or 22ct, the only thing that matters is that you make a purchase worth it because gold will glitter anyway!
What is coloured gold?
Gold can be alloyed with silver, copper, zinc, palladium, and nickel to create the various found gold colours. The most common gold colours are yellow, white and rose, whereas you can also find gold in green and grey colour.
The bright yellow shade of gold is achieved by mixing pure gold with silver, copper, or zinc. The usual composition of 18K yellow gold is 75% pure gold blended with 12.5% copper and 12.5% silver. Being the purest colour, it requires the least maintenance of all the other gold colours. It is the most preferred one for ages for jewellery and coins.
The silvery-white shade of gold is an alloy of pure gold and at least one white metal (generally nickel, silver, or palladium). White gold can also be created with gold and platinum. A common white gold composition consists of gold, nickel, zinc and palladium along with copper added occasionally. Due to its colour and durability, white gold is sometimes preferred over platinum to create any diamond or gemstone jewellery.
The pinkish hue of gold known as rose gold (or red gold) is alloyed with gold, copper, and silver. A common formulation of 18K rose gold is 75% of pure gold with 22.25% copper and 2.75% silver. The only difference between the red rose, and pink gold is the amount of copper in it, which is why the names are often used interchangeably. Due to its copper quantity, rose gold is more durable than yellow or white gold. And because of its durability and pinkish shine, rose gold jewellery is more popular and is commonly used for engagement rings, bracelets, and other jewellery items.
Rhodium plating is used to enhance the lustre and durability of metals such as silver and white gold and gives a smooth, shiny finish to the jewellery. It is especially attractive when used for diamond rings, as it can enhance the brilliance of the diamond. Rhodium is a very brittle metal and is not easily shaped or formed. As a result, pure rhodium cannot be made into jewellery. On its own, it can easily crack and break somewhat like glass. But when used to plate other jewellery, rhodium enhances the durability of the metal.
How to take care of different metals?
When worn regularly, your gold jewellery is exposed to skin oils, perspiration, dust, makeup, and more. To keep its shine, you should clean your Jewellery regularly with a solution of 10-parts warm water and 2-parts dish soap. While gold has a shine and a lustre all its own, it’s also a soft metal. This makes it susceptible to dings, scratches, and dents. Put your jewellery on last when getting ready: makeup, perfume, hairspray, and lotions can damage your gold. Be sure to put these things on before your jewellery to limit exposure. Clean with soap as needed: by all means, clean your jewellery at home; but, don’t overdo it! Only clean your jewellery as needed when it’s visibly dirty. Rubbing alcohol is also great for cleaning and sanitising, but stay away from bleach!
Store each piece of jewellery separately and in a soft cloth pouch, it will prevent scratches, breakage and tangling.