I thought I'd offer some information those of you who just don't know what to choose when selecting the metal for your jewerly. I receive the same questions several times a day, so maybe this will be helpful.
The most common choices for jewelry are white gold, yellow gold, platinum and, palladium. Let's go over each one.
White gold is alloyed with nickel, copper, and zinc--and while it looks similar to platinum, it has a vastly different content. 14 kt white gold is 58.3% gold, and 18 kt white gold is 75% gold, white gold will naturally have an off-white color. To give white gold its white luster, in the final process of manufacturing white gold is rhodium plated. Rhodium is a shiny, white metal, which is quite hard and durable. After time the rhodium plating may wear away, revealing the slightly yellowish tint of the underlying metal. To keep white gold looking its best, it may require rhodium re-plating every 12 to 18 months, depending on wear.
14kt gold is the hardest and will maintain its high polish the longest and 18 kt is softer than 14 kt gold but harder than palladium and platinum.
There are several karats available for gold, see below:
- 24K gold is pure gold (way too soft for rings, don't even ask me for it!)
- 18K gold contains 18 parts gold and 6 parts of a base metal, this makes it 75% gold.
- 14K gold contains 14 parts gold and 10 parts of a base metal, this makes it 58.3% gold.
- 12K gold contains 12 parts gold and 12 parts of a base metal, this makes it 50% gold.
- 10K gold contains 10 parts gold and 14 parts a base metal, this makes it 41.7% gold.
While the karat weight drops, the metal becomes more durable.
Yellow Gold is all the same as above minus the rhodium plating, it is yellow naturally.
The difference in color between yellow gold, white gold and rose gold is determined by the metals used in the alloy mix. Yellow gold is made by mixing pure gold with metals such as copper and zinc.
Rose gold is made by mixing pure gold and rose-reddish color metal such as copper.
Let's talk about Palladium.
Palladium offers many of the same desirable characteristics of platinum but at a much lower price. It is as white as platinum and whiter than white gold. Palladium is lightweight, hypoallergenic, easy to finish and polish, it does not require rhodium plating, (like white gold), and is one of the whitest of all metals. Palladium is one of the "sister" metals of platinum and shares many of the same unique characteristics and physical properties of platinum. Palladium is 10% harder than platinum.
950 Palladium jewelry typically contain 95% palladium and about 5% ruthenium and have trace amounts of other metals. The weight and feel of 950 palladium wedding band is very close to that of 14k white gold wedding band.
Your budget doesn't allow Platinum? Palladium offers many of the same desirable characteristics of platinum but at a lower price. Excellent choice I'd say!
Lastly, the King of Metals...
Platinum is by far my favorite metal, especially for a ring. I like the heavy substantial feel of it on my finger. Unfortunately, the cost can be quite a deterrent for some. Platinum is rare and pure. Platinum is generally 95% pure; it is sometimes mixed with a small amount of iridium and ruthenium to add strength. Platinum's purity makes it hypoallergenic and ideal for those with sensitive skin. Platinum jewelry doesn't fade or tarnish and keeps its look for a lifetime. Platinum does scratch easier than 14k and 18k gold and slightly more than palladium. However, the scratch on platinum is merely a displacement of the metal and none of its volume is lost. When this happens, take your piece to a qualified jeweler to have it re-polished to a high gloss look.
I hope this has been helpful to everyone, The bottom line, choose whatever works for you and your budget, all the metals discussed are gorgeous and will last a lifetime with the proper care.