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Choice of Metal in Jewelry Design

The choice of metal for a piece of jewelry really comes down personal taste and preference. However it can be useful to know a little more about the precious metals we use in designing our jewelry to help you in selecting the right piece for you.

We use several different precious metals in our designs including gold, rose gold, white gold, sterling silver, platinum and palladium, All are hallmarked here in Ireland in the Irish Assay office in historic Dublin castle.

GOLD

Enduringly popular for thousands of years, gold is prized for its rarity, it’s resistance to tarnishing, its weight and its lovely warm luster to this day. It is the most easily worked of all metals due to it’s softness, which is based on its purity.

Pure gold is too soft for practical use in jewelry on it’s own, so it is mixed with other metals to make an alloy that is more durable. Depending on the metals used in this process, you can get different colors - traditional yellow gold, white gold and rose gold.

Through the alloy process you also get different karats (K) or “purities” of gold which impact on color, weight and price. We use 18K, 14K 10K and 9K gold in our jewelry hallmarked here in Ireland. The hallmark is a guarantee of the purity of the precious metal and these small marks can seen on all of our precious metal jewelry.

For jewelry that will be worn every day, 18K, 14K 10K and 9K gold all hold up very well to constant wear, especially for rings or bracelets. Due to its high percentage of gold (75%), 18K gold ages very well. It has the heaviest weight and has a beautiful warm colour however this comes at a higher price. For our customers choosing yellow gold wedding or engagement ring, 14K is our most popular choice striking a great balance between cost and color, weight and purity.

gold claddagh

White gold

is made by mixing white metals, such as zinc, platinum and silver with yellow gold to create a gold alloy with a white or light silver color. Like yellow gold, white gold is durable and resistant to tarnishing making it ideal for jewelry. However it requires platinum or rhodium plating every few years to keep a brilliant white color. This stops the natural yellow gold undertones from showing through. It is a more cost effective white metal alternative to more expensive platinum or palladium.  It is a very a popular choice for engagement rings in particular.

engagement ring

Rose gold

also known as pink gold or red gold, has become more popular recently and it is often used in bicolored jewelry alongside yellow or white gold to stunning effect. As for yellow gold, depending on what karat you choose, the color and purity of the ring will differ. The intensity or the rose colour will increase with decreasing karat gold and a higher proportion of copper, the alloy metal for rose gold. The karat will also determine if the jewelry will will tarnish over time with higher karat more resistant to developing a patina.
rosegoldkells

Gold plated jewelry

is a cost effective option for those that want the beautiful look of gold jewelry at a lower price. Gold plated jewelry usually has a base metal of silver, steel, copper, brass and or nickel which is then electroplated with gold, leaving a thin and even layer on the surface of the jewelry. Gold plated jewelry is not as hard wearing as solid gold jewelry as you might expect. With time the base metal can cause gradual fading of its color and gold plated jewelry can tarnish over years depending on the thickness of the gold layer. 

However pieces like earrings and brooches will last longer than rings and bracelets that are exposed to more wear and tear. Removing jewelry before doing a physical activity or taking a shower will also help in upkeep of a plated finish. Storing jewelry in a sealed plastic bag when not worn can also help a piece looking beautiful for a longer time. This makes it a popular choice for jewelry that will not be worn every day and can look great for years to come with care.

PLATINUM

Although it has been used since the time of the ancient Egyptians, platinum has only recently again become a popular choice for jewelry. Use of this beautiful silvery-white, durable, and tarnish resistant metal in jewelry dropped drastically in the 20th century when it was taken off the market for military use! The 21st century has seen a strong return to platinum use in jewelry with it’s admirable physical properties making it an ideal choice for wedding bands or engagement rings.

It is an extremely rare metal (30 times rarer than gold) and has a result, has a significantly higher price than most other materials used in jewelry.  Its beauty, rarity and physical properties has lead to it’s use in notable pieces, including the british crown jewels.

As with gold, platinum is commonly mixed with other metals to make an alloy. Platinum alloys are typically 95% platinum or higher. As platinum is a relatively hard and heavy metal it is ideal for rings or bracelets or pieces that will be worn every day.

PALLADIUM


Palladium is another rare metal. It is in the same group of metals as platinum, sharing many of the same properties including a silvery white color and fantastic durability. However palladium differs from platinum in its density. It is much less dense giving it a much lighter feel when worn. It is an excellent choice for someone looking for a white or silvery colour of platinum but doesn’t fancy weight in a piece of jewelry. It is also comes in at a slightly lower price point making it a more affordable option than platinum.

Palladium has been used in making white gold alloys since the early 20th century, however it has more recently become a popular choice in its own right owing to its color, hardness, resistance to tarnishing. It makes for a low maintenance metal for jewelry and does not require plating to keep a beautiful white silvery color.

SILVER

Used in jewelry for nearly as long as gold, silver is enduringly popular worldwide for beautiful jewelry and is the most affordable of the precious metals. Like gold, pure silver is very malleable and soft and can be easily damaged. It is commonly mixed with other metals to make alloys that are more suitable for use in jewelry.
Sterling silver is the most popular of these alloys and has at least 92.5% silver, but it can be higher. We sell sterling silver that is hallmarked here in Ireland in the Dublin Assay office in historic Dublin Castle. This hallmark ensures the quality of the silver and is an indicator of the metal’s purity.

celtic warrior

Sterling silver has a beautiful color and luster and it can make for beautiful but very affordable jewelry that can stand the test of time. It is strong and durable making it suitable for pieces like bracelets, rings and necklaces that will be worn regularly. Sterling silver can tarnish with time however silver can be polished to remove any patina that forms with age. Have a look at our blog post about how to care for silver jewelry here for more information.

 

 

 

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