Precious Metals Guide

Gold Jewelry

Gold is a very durable metal that will not tarnish or corrode with time. Gold is commonly alloyed with a number of different metals to increase its strength and produce a variety of colors including white, yellow and rose (or pink) color gold. Because pure gold (24k gold) is too soft for fine jewelry, all jewelry is created in 14k gold (and 18k by special order).

Gold is measured in karats. The higher the karat weight, the greater the purity. The number of karats specifies the number of parts, by weight, of pure gold is contained in 24 parts of the alloy. The purity of 14k and 18k gold are as follows:

  • 14k: (14/24) 58.3% pure gold
  • 18k: (18/24) 75% pure gold

Yellow gold alloys include copper, silver and zinc. White gold is created by combining pure gold with copper, nickel and zinc. Pink gold is created by combining large amounts of copper are combined with pure gold.

White Gold
White gold is an alloy of gold and nickel. Because 14k white gold is 58.3% gold, and 18k white gold is 75% gold, white gold will naturally have a light yellowish tint. To give white gold its brilliant white luster, in the final process of manufacturing white gold is rhodium plated. Rhodium is a shiny, white metal, which is extremely hard and durable. However, over 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.

Platinum Jewelry

Platinum is a naturally white metal and does not require rhodium plating unlike white gold. Platinum has a density far greater than 14k and 18k gold resulting in a weight that is typically 1.8 times heavier than 14k gold. A scratch in platinum may leave a mark, but the metal does not wear away (it simply changes form). With time platinum develops a satin or patina look (which many of our customers prefer). However, if you prefer the shiny, high polish look, your platinum will need to be repolished by a jeweler to regain the shine.

Palladium Jewelry

Palladium is also a member of the platinum family. Like platinum, palladium is naturally white. Palladium is 10% harder than platinum, and therefore, is more scratch resistant. The color is nearly identical to platinum (slightly whiter). The main differences between platinum and palladium is the price (which is comparable to 18k gold) and the density/weight which is comparable to 14k and not platinum.

Because palladium is softer than 14k white gold, for rings purchased from our 'Choose Your Center' categories, the prongs and heads will be made of a special 14k white gold alloy known as X1 which matches the color of palladium, does not need rhodium plating, and is stronger and more secure than palladium.

Palladium Jewelry

Platinum Palladium 14k White Gold
Heavier and denser than white gold (950 platinum is typically 1.8 times heavier than 14k white gold) Comparable in weight to 14k white gold Comparable in weight to palladium
Scratches easier than gold and palladium 10% harder than platinum, but scratches easier than 14k gold White gold will maintain its sheen longer than platinum metals
Maintains it's white color forever Maintains it's white color forever (and is slightly whiter than platinum) Will eventually tinge to a very light yellow (requiring rhodium plating)
Hypoallergenic Hypoallergenic Some women are alergic to the nickel content found in the white gold alloy
Price is 2x to 3x as much as 14k gold Fairly inexpensive compared to platinum (comparable to 18k gold) Fairly inexpensive compared to platinum; slightly less expensive than palladium
Long term maintenance includes repolishing Long term maintenance includes repolishing Long term maintenance includes repolishing and replating (rhodium finish)
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