Precious Metals Guide

When choosing jewelry, functionality is just as important as how it looks. This guide explores everything you need to know about different precious metals by discussing style, durability and care so that you can make an informed choice you are completely happy with.


Metal Choice in Jewelry

The materials used in your jewelry impact how your piece will look, feel and how long it will last. From finding a shade that complements your style to selecting a material built to last years, the right metal makes all the difference. It affects the beauty and wearability of your piece. That’s why you need to consider the metal of the jewelry before making a purchase to ensure it suits not only your style and taste but also your lifestyle and any skin sensitivities you might have. We're here to guide you through your options and help you find the perfect match that lets you truly shine.

Precious Metals

Precious metals are those that are rare, beautiful and durable. They've held value for centuries for their aesthetics, durability and uniqueness. In the world of jewelry, some of the most popular precious metals include gold, silver and platinum. These metals offer a variety of colors, weights and strengths, which makes them perfect for creating jewelry pieces that are one of a kind, stunning and built to last.

Yellow Gold

When you picture gold jewelry, you probably think of that classic shiny yellow color. That's actually the natural color of gold because gold is found in metallic yellow in its pure form. But did you know gold can come in other colors too? This is where karats come in. Karat is the measurement unit used for gold presence in a piece. The higher the karat, the more gold it contains. For instance, 14K gold typically contains 58.3% of pure gold while 10K and 18K have 41.7% and 75%, respectively. Pure gold, also known as 24K gold, is quite rare and expensive, which is why you'll usually see jewelry made from a mix of gold and other metals like copper, silver or palladium depending on the desired color at the end. The mix of these harder metals brings out white and rose gold colors while also making the piece even harder and more durable.


Care Tips: As gold is naturally yellow and incredibly durable, your yellow gold pieces will keep their gorgeous shine for a lifetime. Plus, gold is super resistant to tarnishing, so you won't have to worry about everyday wear and tear. The only maintenance it really needs is the occasional cleaning, which is pretty easy to do yourself at home following the steps outlined in our jewelry care guide.


For Sensitive Skin: Skin irritation or other reactions to the metals mixed with 14K and 18K yellow gold, like copper and zinc, are quite rare.



Yellow gold
white gold

White Gold

White gold is an alloy, which means it's a mix of pure gold and other metals like silver and palladium which give it the white color. Even with those lighter metals in the mix, pure gold is still in a pretty strong yellow color. To get that bright white look we all love, white gold jewelry gets a special finishing coating called rhodium plating. Rhodium is a super white metal that gives white gold that extra pop of shiny white color. White gold has the same amount of gold percentage as yellow and rose gold. In fact, the color of the gold does not indicate less or more pure gold in a piece. This means color does not take away from the value or purity of gold at all.


Care Tips: Rhodium plating can wear down over time, slightly revealing the natural yellow gold underneath. This depends on how often you wear your piece and what it goes through when you wear it. However, it is possible to get your jewelry rhodium-plated again and we recommend getting it rhodium-plated once a year, or whenever it starts to look a little less brilliant. Other than that, regular cleaning will do perfectly to keep it shiny and sparkling for years to come.


For Sensitive Skin: White gold sometimes uses nickel in its mix of metals. If you have a nickel allergy, it might be best to choose a different metal for your jewelry



Rose Gold

A mixture of yellow gold, silver and copper gives us rose gold. An addition of copper used in the alloy brings out the beautiful rosy and blush tone of the gold. Silver in the alloy softens the sharp redness of the copper. As a result, the romantic rose color shows itself. In terms of gold percentage, it is the same as yellow and white gold. 18K rose gold has 75% gold while 14K contains 58.3% gold. This doesn’t change depending on gold’s color.


Care Tips: Due to the toughness and hardiness of copper in the alloy, rose gold doesn’t get tarnished or chipped and is even more durable than other colors. Therefore, regular cleaning and care will suffice under normal wear conditions.


For Sensitive Skin: Reactions to the metals mixed with 14K and 18K rose gold, like copper and silver, are rare.



Rose gold
Yellow, white or rose

Can’t Decide Between Yellow, White or Rose?

Here are a few things to consider that can help you find the ideal color for you.


  • First things first, your style is key. Are you drawn to a classic chic look? Yellow gold can be a perfect choice. For a trendy and modern aesthetic, white gold is the one you should go for. If you prefer more of a vintage charm, rose gold might be your ideal match. Remember, you don’t have to choose only one if you can’t decide. You can always mix and match colors to get the look you are looking for. So, think about the overall vibe you're drawn to and let it guide you.
  • Learning more about your skin tone may also help. Certain colors can really make your jewelry pop. If you have a cool under skin tone, white gold will look the best on you. If you have a warmer skin tone, going for yellow or rose gold might be a better choice. Explore what works best for you.
  • If you are considering gifting, consider the recipient’s taste. Think about the kind of jewelry they generally wear. Do they favor white gold? You might want to stick to white gold jewelry then. However, people who wear yellow gold often have a warm skin tone that looks great with rose gold too.
  • Jewelry comes in a range of price points. 10K gold offers a beautiful option at a more affordable price, while 18K gold is a luxurious choice you can go for. 14K kind of stands in between in terms of pricing and color.




Gold Vermeil and Gold Plated

There are some more budget-friendly alternatives to gold such as gold vermeil and gold plated. Understanding the differences between gold, gold vermeil and gold plated is key to choosing the most suitable one for you. They might even offer some advantages depending on your priorities. Let's delve into the details and help you pick the perfect golden touch for your next precious piece.

Gold Vermeil

Gold vermeil is made with a solid sterling silver base. A thick layer of gold is then coated through special techniques. This means that gold vermeil is made up of only precious metals known for their quality and durability. This gold layer is much thicker than what you would find on gold-plated pieces. Gold vermeil is therefore more resistant to fading, tarnishing and wearing off than gold plated. It is the highest quality of gold available apart from solid gold. Eternate’s gold vermeil is made with 2.5 microns thick 14K gold layering.


Care tips: Due to the thick layer of solid gold over it, gold vermeil usually doesn’t get tarnished or wear off easily. In terms of quality and durability, it is the closest you can get to pure gold, which makes it long lasting and resistant to everyday wear.


For Sensitive Skin: Gold vermeil is a good choice for many people with sensitive skin due to the low nickel content. This means it does not cause any skin reaction, irritation or turn your skin green.


Gold Plated

Gold vermeil and gold plated jewelry go through a similar process, but there's a key difference that affects how long they last. Gold vermeil has established industry standards for the thickness of the gold layer to ensure a more durable and long-lasting piece. Gold plated pieces are made with a thinner layer of gold over copper or brass and don’t have such standardized regulations. Due to the thinner layer of gold, plated is usually more prone to damage and can get tarnished more easily compared to gold vermeil. Eternate does not offer gold plated or gold-filled jewelry.

What is Recycled Gold?

Have you ever wondered why gold is such a popular choice for jewelry? Well, gold is incredibly rare, durable and resistant to corrosion, which makes it perfect for pieces you want to treasure for years to come.

The good news is that this treasure doesn't have to be mined from Earth continuously. The beauty of gold is that it's also recyclable. In fact, a significant amount of the gold used today comes from recycled sources like old jewelry and electronics. The high demand for gold ensures a continuous loop of responsible recycling, which makes it a smart choice all around. At Eternate, to support more eco-friendly and sustainable ways of providing fine jewelry for our customers, we use 100% recycled gold in our pieces. So, when you choose our gold jewelry, you're not only getting a piece that will last but you're also contributing to a more sustainable future in the jewelry industry. 

Platinum

Platinum is a captivating and rare metal that has a lustrous, silver-white shine. It is incredibly ductile, meaning it can be shaped and drawn out finer than any other pure metal, even more so than gold or silver. This remarkable property makes it an ideal material for crafting fine jewelry. Platinum is also built to last and offers excellent resistance to wear and tear. This makes it a perfect choice for cherished pieces you'll treasure for years to come.


Care Tips: Due to its ductile nature, it can bend easily. So, it’s best to handle it with care and take off your platinum jewelry during harsh physical activities. Basic cleaning would also work wonders to keep it all cared for and shiny. You can also get it refurbished or polished to renew its shine.


For Sensitive Skin: Platinum is hypoallergenic, so it is quite unlikely to cause any skin irritation or some sort of discoloration on the skin.



Platinum
Silver

Silver

Sterling silver is a white shiny lustrous metal used commonly in jewelry. It consists of 92.5% pure silver and the rest is an alloy of other metals like copper that make it harder, more durable and thus more suitable for jewelry use.


Care Tips: Silver is relatively softer so it may need a little bit extra care. It is normal for silver to slightly tarnish and it’s not related to the quality of your sterling silver jewelry because pure silver tarnishes too. However, exposure to chemicals such as chlorine and acids may cause it to tarnish more quickly. So, we recommend you take good care of your silver jewelry by having a regular cleaning routine, storing it properly and avoiding abrasive chemicals.


For Sensitive Skin: If your silver piece is alloyed with nickel, it can cause some skin problems especially if you have nickel allergy.



Differences between Platinum, White Gold and Silver Jewelry

Platinum, white gold and silver can sometimes play a trick on your eyes because they all share that cool, silvery white look. However, they have some slight differences. Platinum is the one that shines brightest, with a lively, white tone that stays that way over time. It is also the heaviest of the three due to its density. White gold, on the other hand, has a hint of yellow peeking through its creamy white color. To make it extra sparkly, jewelers often give it a rhodium plating, which gives it that mirror-like shine. Silver rounds out the group with a subtle grayish cast. It is also the lightest option. Although it doesn't have the same brilliance as the other two, it has a beautiful, soft glow.

Now, telling them apart at first glance can be tricky. If unsure, it’s always best to consult a jeweler because professional jewelers with special tools are the ones who can distinguish them most accurately.

Choosing the Right Metal for You

Choosing the Right Metal for You

Picking out the perfect jewelry metal can feel overwhelming with all the choices out there. Don't let all the options stress you out though. By taking a few things into account, you can narrow down your choices and end up with a piece of jewelry that makes you feel all good and happy.


Consider your lifestyle. Are you someone who wears jewelry every day, or only for special occasions? Daily wear calls for more durable metals like platinum or 14K+ gold of all three colors. These can withstand everyday wear and tear. If you're a more occasional jewelry wearer, then silver or gold vermeil options would be just as perfect. 


Think about your budget. Some metals are naturally more expensive than others. Platinum and 18K gold are on the higher end, while silver, gold vermeil and lower karat gold can offer more affordable options.


Don't forget about the look you're going for. Do you prefer a classic or trendy vibe? Yellow gold offers a classic look that will never get old, while rose gold has a romantic and vintage vibe. Silver gives off a cool, modern feel, and white gold has a way of highlighting gemstones. You don’t have to go for only one type of metal though. Instead, mix and match them to find the look you are most satisfied with.


Consider your skin sensitivities if any. Go for known hypoallergenic metals like platinum or gold, which are the safest options, if you have concerns.

Jewelry Engraving FAQs:

What is the best metal for an engagement ring?

It’s entirely down to your personal preferences, budget considerations, taste and skin sensitivities if you have any. Each metal has something to offer. A platinum engagement ring, for example, with its bright white sheen would be incredibly durable, which makes it a great choice if you would wear the ring every day. If you're looking for a warmer tone, yellow gold might be your match. It's a classic choice that never goes out of style, and it pairs beautifully with diamonds and other gemstones. White gold offers a similar look to platinum but at a slightly more affordable price point. So, consider your priorities and don't be afraid to try on different options and see what feels most special.

Is platinum hypoallergenic?

Yes. Platinum is considered one of the most hypoallergenic metals for jewelry. This means it's less likely to cause any irritation or allergic reactions. That’s why it's a popular choice for people with sensitive skin.

Is gold worth more than platinum?

There is no straightforward answer to this question. Traditionally, platinum has been more expensive than gold. However, in recent years, gold prices have risen and can sometimes be more expensive than platinum. 

Is platinum stronger than gold?

Platinum is usually considered slightly stronger than gold. It's denser and more durable, so it can withstand more wear and tear without bending or breaking. That's why platinum engagement rings and platinum wedding rings are popular choices especially for people with active lifestyles.

Does platinum have nickel?

No, platinum is nickel-free. That's one of the reasons it's considered such a hypoallergenic metal for jewelry.

How to clean sterling silver jewelry?

A simple solution of warm water with a few drops of mild dish soap can work really well. Gently scrub your jewelry piece with a soft toothbrush, then rinse and dry thoroughly with a microfiber cloth. You can also use pre-made silver cleaning cloths many jewelry stores sell. These cloths are usually infused with a gentle polishing agent that will leave your silver looking brand new. No matter which method you choose, remember to be gentle with your sterling silver jewelry. It's a beautiful metal, but it can also be delicate.