Best Jewelry Material For Everyday Wear
Best jewelry material for everyday wear
Everyone has a preference when it comes to metal for jewelry. You may be familiar with gold, silver, and rose gold when it comes to aesthetic options for types of metal, but what about the finer details? Plated, filled, vermeil? Do you know the difference between 14K gold and 24K gold? What about what makes sterling silver distinct?
If your head is already spinning, take a seat and keep reading. Here's a complete guide to the different types of metal for jewelry and which you should select.
Jewelry metal types
It all depends on what you're seeking. A metal like stainless steel would be by far the most durable. This can be an appealing move for daily jewelry because you don't want it to get damaged because of wear and tear, which is bound to happen. However, it is used in lower-quality jewelry because it is less malleable.
That said, precious metals like gold and sterling silver are beautiful options for fancier pieces. Some people opt for these in their daily wear or stick to wearing them with evening wear. Additionally, metals like platinum can straddle these two situations. They're both solid and beautiful, which allows you to get the best of both worlds. It's why it's so popular for wedding and engagement rings!
We'll go into more depth about each of these types of metals. Just be sure to avoid wearing cheap metals like arsenic, lead, nickel, chromium, and cadmium. These metals aren't safe for use in jewelry manufacturing. They're unsafe for the skin and can cause irritation and allergic reactions.
Is solid gold jewelry worth it?
Gold — yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold — is incredibly popular in jewelry making. This is for a few reasons. For one, we've historically placed a significant emphasis on it and its value. However, it's also soft and malleable, which makes it easy for jewelry makers to work with.
A benefit of gold jewelry compared to sterling silver is that it doesn't tarnish on its own. Your gold jewelry can be incredibly old, and you can always bring it back to life with a good polish. That said, you should keep your gold jewelry out of the swimming pool or hot tub, as chlorine can discolor gold at hot temperatures.
What gold karat is best?
Gold is too delicate to be used in an undiluted form. To solve this issue, it's often mixed with other metals like zinc or copper. This is important to note if you have an allergy to certain types of metal. The higher the concentration of gold, the more lustrous it is, but it's also more prone to scratches. You can tell how much gold is present based on the number of karats.
· 24 karat gold = 100 percent gold
· 22 karat gold = 92 percent gold
· 18 karat gold = 75 percent gold
· 14 karat gold = 58 percent gold
· 10 karat gold = 41 percent gold
The lowest concentration that can legally be called gold is 10 karats.
Pure gold is melted with different types of metals. Nickel is a common allergy, so it is important to ask your jeweler if the metal contains nickel. For rose gold, more copper is used to achieve a pink hue. There is rhodium plating to achieve the white color that white gold has. Rhodium plating is not corrosion-resistant, so it will have to be redone over time.
If you're interested in learning more about gold concentrations, check out our article on the Glistener.
Is sterling silver good jewelry?
You've probably owned a fair amount of sterling silver jewelry throughout your life. This is because pure silver is weak and difficult to shape. It's no longer commonly used in fine jewelry. If you were to wear pure silver, it might leave stains on your skin for the following reasons:
· Reaction to sulfur in the air
· Ammonia in your sweat
Though pure silver is a natural antibiotic and germicide, it's most often used in high-end dinnerware. Otherwise, it's not used in jewelry the way it once was. Instead, sterling silver is a common swap because it's an affordable white metal jewelry.
It's made of 92.5 percent pure silver. If you're in France, then sterling silver is 95 percent silver. The rest is made up of copper or zinc. If a piece of jewelry is sterling silver instead of silver, it'll have a "925" or "sterling" stamp.
Since silver jewelry is prone to corrosion, you'll need to have it professionally polished once a year.
Gold plated vs. gold filled vs. gold vermeil Jewelry
Each of these types of jewelry has a layer of gold on the surface to give off a gold color. Thus, it's easy to confuse them, and people often use these terms interchangeably, even though they're different.
What is gold-plated jewelry?
Gold-plated jewelry is a low-end metal (such as brass or copper) electroplated with a layer of gold. It's usually less expensive than vermeil and doesn't require a minimum karat weight or thickness. As long as it's gold, it can be advertised as gold-plated. That said, gold-plated jewelry can be more valuable than vermeil, depending on the thickness of the layer and the karat weight used.
What is gold-filled jewelry?
Gold-filled jewelry has a much thicker layer of gold over the base. This layer can sometimes be as much as 100 percent thicker, which makes a significant difference in its resistance and long-term wear. The base material in gold-filled jewelry is usually brass or another low-end material. It can be hard to distinguish between real gold and a gold-filled piece.
What is gold vermeil jewelry?
Vermeil is also known as "silver gilt." It's high-quality silver that's plated with a thin layer of gold. Most vermeil jewelry currently available is made by electroplating silver with gold. This chemical process utilizes an electrical current to bind the two metals together. Vermeil can be made with either pure or sterling silver.
In the U.S., vermeil is regulated and must meet specific qualifications. For example, the gold must be at least 10K and 2.5 microns thick. Vermeil is normally thought to be closer to fine jewelry, but if it only has the minimum layer of gold, it's likely to start wearing away after purchase. This means a vermeil piece will need replating every so often.
How long does gold-plated jewelry last?
Plated, filled, and vermeil jewelry shouldn't get wet because that will speed up the corrosion. It is often not a good choice for people with an active lifestyle or sensitive skin. No matter if it's gold plated, gold filled, or gold vermeil jewelry, it will tarnish. The length it takes and the conditions it can withstand will differ based on the amount of gold covering the base metal and your lifestyle choices, but over time, you will see the base metal. The only gold jewelry that won't tarnish is pure solid gold.
What is platinum jewelry?
Platinum jewelry is popular because it looks a lot like white gold, but it's much stronger. In fact, it's one of the most durable metals. It's also a naturally hypoallergenic metal, making it an easier choice for anyone with a nickel allergy. It's always worth keeping in mind that most white golds are alloyed with nickel.
Platinum is often selected for wedding jewelry, such as wedding bands and engagement rings. It's highly resistant to stress and temperatures. You can wear it daily and feel confident that it will wear well.
If you have a gold allergy, you can try to swap them with platinum posts. For some people, this is enough to cause them not to have an allergic reaction to earrings. Any of Alexis Jae's earrings can be substituted with platinum posts.
What is Brass Jewelry?
Brass is a metal alloy of zinc and copper. People like it for its gold-like appearance. However, it's not a great long-term option because it'll oxidize and patina to a green color over time. When brass is plated and tarnishes, it is less evident than silver tarnishing because of the similar color.
What is Stainless Steel Jewelry?
Stainless Steel is an alloy of iron. It's extremely strong because of its carbon content. It's also rust-proof because it has added chromium. Because it's scratch-resistant, tarnish-resistant, and affordable, it's popular for jewelry. You can also choose to polish it for a high-gloss effect or brush it for a textured finish.
This is the way to go if you're looking for cheaper jewelry that can be worn daily and subjected to lots of wear and tear without damage. It's most often found in men's jewelry, specific timepieces, and select women's jewelry.
However, because of its strength, its moldability is limited. That is why for higher end pieces, jewelers use gold or silver. There are better choices than stainless steal for setting gemstones.
What is Titanium Jewelry?
As you'd expect from its name, titanium is a super tough metal. It doesn't rust or corrode when exposed to the elements. While it's strong, like stainless steel, it's much lighter. This can make it preferable for some, but it's also much more expensive. It can be worth investing in, however, if you want a long-lasting piece that won't weigh you down.
You can expect a mistier finish from titanium. It's less white than stainless steel and sterling silver. Although it's not quite a gunmetal matte, its coloring is definitely up to your preference.
Quick Comparison of Jewelry Metals
1 = Least Durable, 5 = Most Durable
Believe it or not, gold is the softest metal, which is why it's so popular among jewelry makers. Silver takes second place! Softer metals are easier to sculpt and allow for more detailed designs.
If you're looking for a super-strong metal, tungsten is the most robust metal known to man. It's also highly scratch-resistant. It's four times harder than platinum, which means it definitely ranks as a 5 on the above scale. It's hypoallergenic, cheaper than platinum, and has a weightier feel.
How Can I Tell What Type of Metal My Jewelry Is?
If you didn't purchase a piece of jewelry yourself, you might be wondering what type of metal it is. This can be particularly important to find out if you have an allergy to a certain type of metal, like nickel. Fortunately, it's fairly easy to look for markings on jewelry. Real precious metals (gold, platinum, silver) in the U.S. is required by law to be stamped with a quality mark showing the percentage of the metal used in the jewelry piece.
As noted above, you can always look for the stamp on sterling silver. You'll see a "925" or "sterling" stamp. On the other hand, gold will have a stamp indicating its karat level.
For platinum and other non-precious metals, you can try using a magnet. Iron-based alloys like stainless steel are magnetic, while precious metals are not.
At Alexis Jae Jewelry, we aim to help people skip the middleman and invest in high-quality, ethically sourced jewelry. The metal concentration and type is considered when we recommend different metals to our clients. We only sell fine jewelry featuring precious or semi-precious stones because our jewelry is made to be the highest quality and to last. Start shopping today and save 50% off traditional retail prices! Visit here to learn more.
Pure Gold Choices Manufactured To Last