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Jewellery Metal Guide

Here at H. Samuel, we consider ourselves experts in metal. Therefore, we’ve created this comprehensive metal jewellery guide to help you decide which metal to add to your jewellery collection next. Discover all there is to know about jewellery metal including how to clean your metal jewellery so you can get the very most out of it! Take a read and let us guide you in your next jewellery purchase.

Everything you need to know

From us to you, we're sharing all our expertise on jewellery metals. We'll cover everything you need to know, from yellow gold to tungsten, discover your new favourite type of jewellery here. 

Gold Jewellery 

What is gold?

Gold is a precious metal which is malleable and ductile making it a popular metal choice for jewellery design. Pure gold is referred to as 24 carat gold, this is too soft to be used for jewellery, so it is combined with stronger metals to create an alloy.

The softness of gold makes it malleable, so it can be moulded and crafted into various creative shapes, without putting too much strain on the metal. Pure gold is too soft to be crafted into jewellery, so it is mixed with other more durable metals to make a stronger alloy and possibly an alternative colour.

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How to care for gold jewellery

Gold jewellery should be stored separately from other jewellery to avoid discolouring. Yellow gold in all its forms is an easy metal to care for, it’s resistant to rust and tarnishing and while the shine may fade when in contact with detergents or moisturisers, this is easily rectified by polishing with a soft cloth which will restore the shine to its original, pristine shimmer.

Types of Gold Metal Jewellery

Yellow gold jewellery

Yellow gold jewellery is a classically beautiful option having been in vogue for several decades. Yellow gold is a naturally occurring precious metal which is viewed as a timeless classic metal with some amazing properties. Whilst most other pure metals are grey or white, gold is naturally shiny yellow.

Yellow gold in all its forms is an easy metal to care for, it’s resistant to rust and tarnishing and while the shine may fade when in contact with detergents or moisturisers, this is easily rectified by polishing with a soft cloth which will restore the shine to its original, pristine shimmer. Gold jewellery should be stored separately from other jewellery to avoid discolouring.

Gold makes for a great investment you can pass down the generations.

Rose Gold Jewellery

Rose gold jewellery is all the range with rose, red and pink gold jewellery and watches being highly sought after. Rose gold is a striking metal alloy of gold mixed with copper and is a popular metal type for jewellery fabrication due to its delightful rosy red tint.

White Gold Jewellery

White gold jewellery is a contemporary metal choice with a striking silvery-white colour. Due to its eye-catching sheen, white gold is perhaps the most popular metal choice for wedding and engagement rings.

The colour of white gold is dependent on the amount of pure yellow gold and other metals used to create the alloy. Almost all white gold is electro plated with rhodium to hide any staining or browning from the alloying process and to ensure white gold always has a shiny white, polished finish.

Types of Silver

Sterling Silver Jewellery 

What is sterling silver?

Sterling silver is an alloy, made up of copper and 92.5% pure silver and this is reflected in the 925 sterling silver hallmark stamp. Sterling silver is commonly used for jewellery fabrication due to its ductile and malleable properties making it easy to draw into wire or beat into sheets. Slightly harder than pure silver, sterling silver is the most popular alloy for use in the manufacture of jewellery and silverware.

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How to care for silver jewellery

The best way to keep your silver jewellery looking great is to wear it, as this stops it oxidising with the air and tarnishing. If it comes into contact with water, dry quickly to avoid stains.

Argentium Silver Jewellery

What is argentium silver?

Argentium silver is a recent development of the sterling silver alloy, made with pure silver, copper and the addition of metalloid germanium. Argentium silver is commonly used for jewellery pieces and silverware due to its durability and strength. It has a higher resistance to tarnishing and will not dent or scratch easily, so it’s particularly good for jewellery that will be worn daily.

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Other Metals

Titanium Jewellery

What is titanium?

Titanium is a lightweight, lustrous grey metal with a low density, great strength and high durability. Titanium is exceptional amongst metals for the highest strength-to-density ratio. Titanium is often used for manufacturing everyday jewellery such as wedding bands and engagement rings due to its durability and resistance to tarnishing.

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How to care for titanium jewellery

Always store your titanium jewellery in a pouch if you can, to prevent scratching and use a soft cloth for polishing.

Cobalt Jewellery 

What is cobalt?

Cobalt is a bright chemical element which is found as a by-product of copper and nickel. Its silvery radiance is completely natural and cobalt itself is often used in electroplating to give other metal based jewellery a polished surface. Cobalt contains hypoallergenic properties and is highly scratch resistant and doesn’t chip, shatter or crack making it a popular metal type for jewellery.

Cobalt is commonly used to manufacture rings due to its brilliant shine. Being heavier than titanium but lighter than tungsten, cobalt rings create a balance that is comfortable to wear.

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What is palladium?

Palladium falls within the platinum group of metals and has been used as a precious metal since 1939. Its natural, lustrous, silvery-white colour does not need to be plated. Palladium is the least dense of the metals in the platinum family, so like gold – it can be beaten as thin as a leaf, making it ideal for jewellery fabrication. Palladium is perfect in all types of jewellery and makes an ideal substitute for white gold and platinum.

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How to care for palladium jewellery

Palladium jewellery develops a natural patina over time. If it is dented or scratched, the metal simply displaces and can easily be rectified with polishing. It's best to avoid wearing your palladium jewellery if carrying out any hands-on, heavy work.

Stainless Steel Jewellery

What is stainless steel?

A bright, shiny, and versatile material, stainless steel is different from carbon steel because it contains a minimum of 10.5% chromium, preventing it from corroding easily or rusting like ordinary steel and making it resistant to tarnishing. It also contains hypoallergenic properties, so is unlikely to cause adverse skin reactions.

Stainless Steel is widely used in fashion jewellery and watches. Stainless steel is favoured as a material for watch bracelet straps and cases because of its smooth surface, non-magnetic properties and its resistance to scratching. As it is lightweight, it is perfect for use in all body piercing jewellery, such as earrings and belly bars.

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How to care for stainless steel jewellery

Stainless steel jewellery can be easily cleaned and polished with a soft cloth and mild detergent or toothpaste can be used for stubborn dirt. Avoid soaking in water and when polishing, clean along the grain of the metal. It is best to store other precious metals separately from stainless steel as it might cause damage to other items because it is so hard.

Platinum Jewellery 

The everlasting popularity of platinum is due to its purity, colour, strength and prestige. As gorgeous as platinum is, it's not all about looks. Many of us veer towards this metal because of its hardness and resistance to tarnishing, making it a practical and glamorous metal for everyday jewellery.

Platinum develops a beautiful sheen called a patina over time, its natural bright silvery tone is especially popular for specialist jewellery, with many bride and grooms swaying towards platinum for their wedding bands and engagement rings. Its durability and strength make it an ideal setting for diamonds and other precious gemstones.

Whilst gold contains a combination of metals, platinum's purity makes it naturally hypoallergenic and non reactive, ideal for those with skin sensitivities. Denser than gold and twice as dense than silver, it can be quite heavy but this is a favourable quality, especially for men. Despite its durability, like most metals, it does tend to wear a little over time and will scratch if it comes into contact with stronger materials, such as diamonds or steel. Unlike gold, platinum doesn't chip away but instead the scratches are seen as indentations that can be easily re-polished.

You may come across the term 'platinum plated' when shopping for your jewellery, where a metal such as silver has been coated with a thin layer of platinum to give jewellery the beautiful polished appearance of platinum at a more affordable cost.

Traditional platinum however, will always be stamped with a hallmark indicating its purity, with the 950 mark meaning the item contains 95% platinum; this is the most common for platinum jewellery.

The value of platinum is more volatile than gold due to its other more industrial uses, but its rarity means it stands the test of time. Many people invest in platinum and pass it down through the generations as a family heirloom.

Tungsten Jewellery 

What is tungsten?

Appreciated for its robustness, tungsten has a similar density to gold and is currently very popular in men’s wedding rings. Men tend to favour tungsten wedding rings because, whilst also fashionable, they offer a non-scratch, no-tarnish ring with a long-lasting shine.

Tungsten is a steel coloured grey metal. Raw tungsten can be quite brittle, meaning it can crack and be a little tricky to work with. In its pure form tungsten maintains its hardness but becomes malleable enough to craft more easily. It still retains its strength, but it becomes soft enough to be cut with a steel hacksaw.

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Rhodium Jewellery

What is rhodium?

Rhodium is another precious metal from the platinum family that has a silvery-white tone and a high level of reflectance. Rare and valuable, not only does rhodium have a high level of reflectance, it’s hard, durable and resistant to tarnishing.