About our Metals

Stainless Steel Vs Sterling Silver

Both metals are used in jewelry, silver in color and durable. But, what is the difference between them?

Firstly, “sterling silver” is created as an alloy of silver and other metals. Silver in its purest form is much too soft to be made into jewelry. Sterling silver is easy for jewelers to work with; therefore, sterling silver jewelry can be made into various intricate designs. Sterling silver is also found to be less expensive than other metals.

Unfortunately, silver does tarnish and oxidize over time. Because silver is still relatively soft, it may be susceptible to wear such as scratches or dents. If you are looking for an alternative to silver, stainless steel is a great choice.

Stainless steel is also an alloy and is made up of a percentage of chromium. You may think of appliances when you think of stainless steel, but each type of stainless steel is made of a different alloy. The stainless steel used in jewelry does not oxidize or tarnish and it holds up to wear much better. The cost for stainless steel jewelry is generally comparable to silver.

Stainless steel has become a favorite for men’s jewelry, particularly watches and jewelry that are worn daily as the wear is less noticeable. Sterling silver will not get scratched or dented however and, therefore, holds its shine.

A third option, outside the debate, is titanium. Titanium is lighter than stainless steel and resistant to corrosion. Jewelry made with titanium holds up under water and is also stronger than steel. However, if jewelry is made with Titanium and cracks, it cannot be repaired. Titanium is also more costly than silver or stainless steel.


Karats in Gold

Gold is a precious commodity that is used to manufacture coins, artifacts and jewelry. It also has health uses, such as in dental implants and crowns. The value of gold is measured by purity, which is determined by the number of other metals the gold contains. Gold dealers use several methods to evaluate the purity of gold, including the use of nitric acid. Typically, gold is offered in 10, 14, 18 and 24-carat choices, each representing a different level of purity.

Jewelry

Main article: Jewelry
Moche gold necklace depicting feline heads. Larco Museum Collection. Lima-Peru

Because of the softness of pure (24k) gold, it is usually alloyed with base metals for use in jewelry, altering its hardness and ductility, melting point, color and other properties. Alloys with lower caratage, typically 22k, 18k, 14k or 10k, contain higher percentages of copper or other base metals or silver or palladium in the alloy. Copper is the most commonly used base metal, yielding a redder color.[36]

Eighteen-carat gold containing 25% copper is found in antique and Russian jewelry and has a distinct, though not dominant, copper cast, creating rose gold. Fourteen-carat gold-copper alloy is nearly identical in color to certain bronze alloys, and both may be used to produce police and other badges. Blue gold can be made by alloying with iron and purple gold can be made by alloying with aluminium, although rarely done except in specialized jewelry. Blue gold is more brittle and therefore more difficult to work with when making jewelry.[36]

Fourteen- and eighteen-carat gold alloys with silver alone appear greenish-yellow and are referred to as green gold. White gold alloys can be made with palladium or nickel. White 18-carat gold containing 17.3% nickel, 5.5% zinc and 2.2% copper is silvery in appearance. Nickel is toxic, however, and its release from nickel white gold is controlled by legislation in Europe.[36]

Alternative white gold alloys are available based on palladium, silver and other white metals,[36] but the palladium alloys are more expensive than those using nickel. High-carat white gold alloys are far more resistant to corrosion than are either pure silver or sterling silver. The Japanese craft of Mokume-gane exploits the color contrasts between laminated colored gold alloys to produce decorative wood-grain effects.

Composition

Alloys

  • Because 24-carat gold is pure, it is not combined with another type of metal, which is not the case for 18, 14 and 10-carat gold. Metals added to these gold carats are known as alloys, which can affect the price of the gold. Commonly used alloys include silver, copper, zinc, nickel, palladium and platinum. The price of gold jewelry is dependent in part on the kind of alloy it contains. In general, a platinum alloy is the most expensive because of its durability and purity.

Yellow, White and Rose

  • Differences exist in gold colors based on the alloy the gold contains. Yellow gold is typically 14 and 18-carat gold and has a deep orange tint. Zinc and silver are common alloys in yellow gold, which hardens the jewelry but preserves the rich color. White gold is also produced from 14 and 18-carat gold, but contains alloys such as silver, platinum and palladium, which dilutes the gold hue and creates a silver color that looks very similar to pure platinum jewelry. Rose gold is less common than yellow and white gold and contains a copper alloy that gives the gold a pink-rose hue. It is generally produced from 10 and 14-carat gold.


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