You might be wondering, “how many types of metal are actually used in jewelry?” We all know gold is a popular choice, and silver, of course; maybe you're familiar with platinum, as well. But what about the lesser known cobalt, or tantalum? Today we'll go over a brief overview of your options, and the benefits of different metals, to help you make an informed choice on what kind of material you'd like your next piece to be made from.
Gold naturally has a distinct yellow color and is resistant to rust, tarnish and corrosion. Pure 24 karat gold is rarely used in jewelry because it's too soft for frequent wear. Gold is mixed with alloys like copper (as seen in rose gold), silver, nickel, and zinc (used mostly in white gold) to give different colors, strength, and durability. Gold's purity is measured in karats, which indicates out of 24 parts how many parts are gold. For example, 18 karat gold contains 18/24 gold and 6/24 alloy, while 14 karat gold contains 14/24 gold and 10/24 alloy. Gold is traditionally seen in yellow and white colors, but can also be available in rose or green on occasion.
Sterling silver is usually 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. Because it is much more plentiful than platinum or gold, it is great for someone shopping on a budget! Pure silver jewelry is a great way to catch someone's eye without diamonds, it shines more brightly than any other metal on earth, reflecting more than 90% of light back to the eye. It also takes on a much higher polish than any other metal, but it does tarnish. While the tarnish can be removed, silver requires much more care than other metals.
Platinum is generally 95% pure and does not tarnish or lose its rich white luster. When hot, platinum burns so brightly that it will burn your retina if you look at it without glasses. It's is the heaviest of all the precious metals weighing approximately twice as much as karat gold. Its purity makes it hypoallergenic, perfect for people who are sensitive to the alloys used in gold. Platinum is also known for its strength and pliability, just one gram of platinum can be drawn into a fine wire over one mile long.
The following metals are used primarily for wider bands, typically used as men's wedding bands, at this time. Being more affordable metals, they are great for someone shopping on a budget.
At 4x the hardness of platinum, cobalt is one of the hardest materials your ring can be made of. It's hardness makes it extremely scratch and chip resistant, and it's low density makes it extremely light-weight. While it's stregnth is alluring, it's also worth noting that in case of emergency, cobalt is so hard that a special tool is needed to cut it off.
Probably the most well-known alternative metals, tungsten is also 4x harder than platinum. Due to that strength, tungsten rings, like cobalt, cannot be cut off; Instead they have built-in shatter points and can be broken off. For this reason, Tungsten cannot be sized, so you will want to be extra sure of your finger size before ordering your ring. That being said, it is also hypoallergenic, and mostly non-reactive. Being inert, it is popular amongst electricians.
Tantalum is very durable, shatterproof, scratch, corrosion and tarnish-resistant, and is also a hypo-allergenic metal. For extra peace-of-mind, Tantalum rings can be cut off in an emergency if needed. They can also be stretched up to half a size. The natural masculine, gun-metal gray color makes it a popular choice.
With different benefits for each type of metal, there is surely one to fit all the needs of each individual. If you'd like to see the metal types in person, please feel free to stop into Stall & Kessler's anytime to try out all your options!