Is Your Jewelry Made of A Noble Metal?

How to make sure your gems are premium quality
Photo by Kwangmoozaa / Getty Images Plus

A “noble metal” is a precious metal that is resistant to corrosion and oxidation in moist air. Among the most well known noble metals are gold, silver, platinum, palladium, and rhodium — the same metals used in fine jewelry.

Here are some differences in these noble metals:

Platinum

Naturally white and more rare than gold, platinum offers the durability to protect your center diamond through many years of everyday wear.

Platinum looks like white gold, but it will maintain its white color without plating. White gold must be plated with rhodium every few years or it begins to show some yellow. Most platinum jewelry will be 95% pure platinum and 5% iridium.

Platinum is hypoallergenic, which makes it an excellent choice for those with skin allergies.

Yellow Gold

Pure gold is yellow, but it’s too soft to hold its shape in fine jewelry so it’s alloyed with other precious jewelry metals for strength. Look for “14k” or “18k” as a stamp that shows the percentage of gold in your jewelry.

Gold that is 14 karat is 58.5% gold and 41.5% other metals. Gold that is 18 karat is 75% gold and 25% alloy (primarily silver, copper and zinc).

White Gold

White gold contains percentages of gold, which is naturally yellow, but it also contains one or more white metals to lighten its color and add strength.

White gold looks shiny white, but its color is actually from the rhodium metal plating that is applied to all white gold jewelry. Because of this, the plating must be reapplied every few years to keep that shiny white color.

This is an easy process most fine jewelers can perform, so if your white gold ring begins to look dull or golden, stop by your jeweler and ask for a rhodium treatment.

Rose Gold

Rose gold is primarily a percentage of gold and copper, resulting in the dark pink color of a sunset or a spring rose. Care for it the same way you care for yellow gold. Generally, it will not need any plating.

Silver

Although silver is a noble metal, it has a fraction of the value of gold and platinum — but that affordability adds to its popularity. Sterling silver is 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% of other metal alloy.

Two difficulties with sterling silver is that it will tarnish and discolor more easily than the other noble metals, and it’s also softer than every noble metal but pure gold, so it bends and breaks more easily.

Diamonds and other gems are rarely set in silver for this reason.

For more information on how to care for your fine jewelry or questions about precious metals and fine gems, please visit The Gem Collection at 3501 Thomasville Road in Tallahassee or online at GemCollection.com.

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