It is very rightly said that every piece of jewellery tells us a story. We believe this statement to be very true. Just like characters out of a novel, materials used in creating jewellery have their own role to play to help tell the story of jewellery.

To give you a better understanding of different metals used in jewellery making, we have compiled a guide. With this guide, we hope to deliver more knowledge about metals in jewellery making and what goes behind the scenes.

What are the Different Types of Metals used to Make Jewellery?

There are various materials used in making jewellery. These metals can be divided into two categories - precious metals and base metals.

Precious metals include metals such as gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. These metals have a higher value due to their rarity. These metals are also more difficult to extract from the earth.

Base metals are non-precious metals such as lead, copper, zinc etc. These metals are usually added along with precious metals to create jewellery.

Each metal has varying degrees of workability due to its physical and chemical properties. Jewellery is created using the best of these properties. Each metal has its own lustre, heft, hardness, strength, ductility, malleability and durability.

To understand these terms better, here is a mini glossary:


Durability - Durability refers to how long-lasting can metal be while sustaining damage

Ductility - Ductility is the ability of metals to be drawn into wires without breaking

Malleability - Malleability is the ability of metals to be shaped or bent without breaking

Lustre - Lustre refers to the shine of the object

Heft - Heft refers to the weight of the object in comparison with its size

Hardness - Hardness is the resistance to scratching or abrasion


At Ainsworth, we offer jewellery made in gold, silver, platinum, steel, and zirconium.

What is an Alloy?

Metals used in jewellery have properties that make them workable as well as durable for everyday wear. However, to further improve these properties, base metals are often added in.

An alloy is often added to the precious metal. By definition, an alloy is a mixture of two or more elements.

For example, brass is an alloy of copper and zinc.

The alloys used to make jewellery are a mixture of two or more metals. A metal is alloyed due to various reasons. It helps in increasing strength, When gold is alloyed, its tensile strength and hardness increase. Depending on the quantity of metals in an alloy, you can also change the colour of the metal. Alloying the metal also helps reduce the cost while still maintaining the value of the precious metal.

What is the Carat of a Metal?

You might have heard the terms 24 carat gold or 22-carat gold or even 9 carat gold. But what does it actually mean? Carat is a measure of fineness or purity for the metal gold. It is calculated on basis of considering 24 parts total.

Note: In some countries, it is spelt as Karat and denoted by the letter K. The unit of measurement for diamond weights is called carats. However, remember, the description of jewellery will clearly specify if they are referring to the diamond weight or purity of gold.

This means that 24 parts are considered pure gold. 22 carats denoted that 22 parts of pure gold have been used and two parts of other metals have been added. Similarly, 18 carats denotes that 18 parts of pure gold have been used and 6 parts of other metals.

You might have heard the terms 24 carat gold or 22-carat gold or even 9 carat gold. But what does it actually mean? Carat is a measure of fineness or purity for the metal gold. It is calculated on basis of considering 24 parts total. Note: In some countries, it is spelt as Karat and denoted by the letter K. The unit of measurement for diamond weights is called carats. However, remember, the description of jewellery will clearly specify if they are referring to the diamond weight or purity of gold. This means that 24 parts are considered pure gold. 22 carats denoted that 22 parts of pure gold have been used and two parts of other metals have been added. Similarly, 18 carats denotes that 18 parts of pure gold have been used and 6 parts of other metals. In theory, it is assumed that 24 carat gold is pure gold with no impurities. However, in reality, some form of impurity is always present. Therefore 24 carat gold is said to be 99.9% pure gold.

Gold is alloyed to improve its strength and hardness. This makes it easy for the craftsman to work with it and create intricate designs. Gold in its purest form is a soft metal. This is also one of the reasons gemstones are not set in 24 carat gold. If set in 24 carat gold, the gemstones have a very high chance of coming undone from the piece. Different purities mean varying price points. This also enables more people to enjoy the glimmer of gold and makes it affordable

Gold Carat

24 Carat

18 Carat

14 Carat

9 Carat

Distribution

24 parts gold

18 parts gold, 6 part other metals

14 parts gold, 10 parts other metals

9 parts gold,15 parts other metals

Percentage of Gold

99,99%

75%

58,30%

37,50%


What is Coloured Gold?

While the yellow colour of gold has its own allure, white gold and rose gold have their own fanbase. To achieve coloured gold, the quantity of certain metals while creating the alloy is changed.

To achieve a rose gold tone, the amount of copper is increased. While to accomplish a green tone, the amount of silver is increased.

To create a white gold tone, the following metals are used - gold, copper, zinc, nickel/palladium

You will also notice that different carat of yellow gold has different shades of yellow.

What is Sterling Silver?

Sterling silver is a silver alloy that uses 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper. Copper is added to silver to harden it. Copper is able to do it without having an impact on the bright shine of silver.

What is a Hallmark?

A hallmark is a stamp on jewellery that provides information about the purity of the metal. It undergoes an assaying process. A hallmark protects a customer.

In the UK, the hallmark is applied by a UK Assay Office. The Uk Assay Offices are present in London, Birmingham, Sheffield, and Edinburgh.

The hallmark comprises three compulsory marks; Sponsor’s Mark, Fineness Mark and an Assay Office Mark.

To know more about these marks, hallmark requirements, and additional marks, you can check out our dealer’s notice using the link below.

https://www.ainsworthjewellers.com/pub/media/brochure/2019_dealers_notice.pdf

What is Zirconium?

Zirconium is a silver-tray metal that has high malleability and ductility. It is often compared with titanium due to its colour and extreme resistance to heat and corrosion. The benefit of Zirconium is that due to its chemical and physical properties, you can create intricate jewellery. It is also harder than silver.

How to Take Care of Different Metals?

To clean gold and platinum jewellery, you can use warm water mixed with mild soap and a soft brush. Once cleaned, store away the jewellery in soft pouches.

Silver tarnishes over time. This happens because the sulfur in the air reacts with silver to form silver sulfide. This can easily be removed using commercial silver polishes. These can be cleaned at home as well.

However, we recommend getting your jewellery professionally cleaned once every six months.

Despite the metals used to make jewellery being solid and hard, taking care of them goes a long way. We recommend not wearing your jewellery while working out, swimming (swimming pools, sea and rivers), or any heavy lifting work.

At Ainsworth, we also provide cleaning products to keep your diamonds and jewellery sparking. To know more about these products, you can head to

https://www.ainsworthjewellers.com/jewellery-care/jewellery-cleaner.html