Platinum Platinum has become, for many, the only choice for jewelry. Platinum is usually used in a near pure form of 95%. Platinum is a very dense metal making it extremely hard and heavier than other metals used for jewelry. Due to this hardness, separate tools are sometimes required from gold & silver. The most common labels are Plat, Pt, or 950.
Gold Gold is the most popular and versatile metal used for jewelry today. Gold purity is measured in Karats (not to be confused with Carats) and is abbreviated K. Pure gold is 24K and rarely used for jewelry. The Karats most common are 22K (91.6% pure), 18K (75% pure), 14K (58.3% pure), and 10K (41.6% pure). Anything less than 10K cannot be labeled as gold jewelry by law. The most common here in the US is 14K which can be labeled as 14K or 585. White gold purity is measured the same way, with 14K white gold having the same percentage of gold as 14K yellow gold (58.3%). The difference is the other material mixed in to get the white color as 24K gold is yellow. Most white gold is rhodium plated to get the bright white shine we expect. This is necessary due to the intrinsic yellow color of gold.
Silver Silver is found all over the market in a few primary forms: Fine Silver, Sterling Silver and Argentium Silver.
- Fine Silver Fine silver can be thought of as pure silver. It is 99.9% silver and is becoming more common in jewelry, especially with the popularity of precious metal clay. It is very soft and is usually labeled .999.
- Sterling SilverSterling silver is the most common form we see in the market. It is 92.5% silver with the other 7.5% copper. The copper makes the silver stronger and easier to work with. Sterling silver jewelry should be labeled as SS, 925 or simply Sterling Silver. If there is anything after the words "Sterling Silver" describing the metal, it is most likely not pure sterling silver.
- Argentium SilverArgentium silver is just like sterling silver (92.5% silver), except it includes a few more items besides copper. The most important element is germanium. This allows the Argentium to not tarnish as quickly as Fine Silver and Sterling Silver.
VermeilVermeil, relatively new in the US, has been available for centuries overseas. To be true vermeil, it must be Sterling Silver with a plating of gold on top. The gold must be 10K or higher, though most jewelry and findings are 18K plated. The gold will eventually rub off, exposing the sterling underneath. The most important part of this is that it has to be sterling silver underneath. We have started to see other metals plated in gold and called Vermeil. The pricing of Vermeil should always be higher than the silver market because of the of the gold plating. Usually Vermeil is labeled as 925.
Gold - FilledGold –Filled (GF) has been around for over 100 years. It is a thick layer of gold bonded onto a base metal such as brass. This is why Gold-Filled prices go up and down with the gold market. The gold must be 1/20 (5%) the thickness or weight of the metal by law. This allows gold-filled to be polished and even soldered. The gold layer does not rub off as in Vermeil or Plated material. There are different types of gold-filled based on the purity of gold used. 14K 1/20 Gold-Filled (14/20 GF) and 12K 1/20 Gold-Filled (12/20 GF) are the most common.
Silver - FilledSilver-Filled has become the biggest thing since silver prices have shot up. Silver-Filled (SF) is the same concept as GF, just with Sterling Silver. In silver-filled material, you see both 1/10 SF (10%) and 1/20 SF (5%) the thickness or weight of the entire piece. Silver-Filled can also be polished and soldered. It will not rub off with wearing. We have seen labeling as Sterling Silver Filled which is technically correct, but can be misleading.
PlatedPlated jewelry have become very popular primarily because of their look and price points. Usually applied over an inexpensive base metal, such as brass or copper, plated material can come in every color of the rainbow. The most common are Gold Plated, Silver Plated, Gun Metal Plated, Rose Gold Plated, Antique Brass Plated and Antique Copper Plated. Better plated material usually has a clear coating applied on top of the pieces to allow the plating to last longer. Eventually the coating and plating will rub off exposing the base metal.< Back To Education