GUIDE TO METALS USED IN JEWELRY MAKING

Your Private Label Jewelry

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Choosing from the different types of jewelry metals for your special piece is an important decision. And the more you know about how each metal performs, feels, wears and looks, the better your choice will be.

There are several metals used in the design and production of jewelry. The metal types commonly used to make jewelry include Gold, Sterling Silver, Stainless, Brass, Steel and Zinc Alloy. We will provid you with information about these metals, their pros & cons and unique qualities. In the future, this may allow you to make a better and more informed decision when having your private label jewelry.

 
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Metals have been around for thousands of years, dating back to when human civilization first began. They have been used by ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks for all sorts of purposes, including making jewelry. Gold was first discovered around 6000 B.C. and Silver around 4000 B.C.

There are many different types of metals but only some are used for jewelry-making. Gold, silver and platinum are all types of precious metals, also known as noble metals. Precious metals have a high economic value and are seen as valuable and even rare compared to non-precious metals.

All other metals outside of gold, silver and platinum are known as non-precious or base metals and these are much cheaper to buy and easier to get hold of.


Both precious and non-precious metals can sometimes be classed as alloys – this is when metals are mixed together to change the color and strength of a metal.

Below we have outlined some of the main characteristics about some of the common types of metal that you will come across in the jewelry industry.

 

Precious or Noble Metals

​What are the Noble Metals?

  • Gold

  • Rose Gold

  • White Gold

  • Silver

  • Platinum

 

Base Metals

​What are Base or Costume Metals?

  • Brass

  • Copper

  • Stainless Steel

  • Titanium

  • Zinc Alloy

 
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PRECIOUS OR NOBLE METALS

What are Precious or Noble Metals?

The term precious metal refers to rare metals of high economic value. The term usually includes platinum, gold, and silver. A metal can be considered a "noble" metal (meaning it is highly resistant to corrosion) without being a "precious" metal. Gold, silver, and platinum are generally considered to be both noble metals and precious metals.


Some years, market spot prices of precious metals fluctuate greatly. An immediate effect will be noticed in sterling, gold filled and 14kt gold wire, sheet, beads and findings. If prices remain particularly high (or low), there will be a similar (but smaller) effect in the prices of silver-plated and gold-plated (base metal) items.

 
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GOLD

General Basics

  • Gold is one of the best metals to use for jewelry making as it is very soft and easy to work with and of course it looks very beautiful too! Gold is often mixed with metals like zinc or copper as in its purest form, it can be too soft to use.

  • Gold is measured in weight with 24 Karat being the purest form of gold (99.9%) right down to 10 Karat (41.7% pure gold). Some costume jewelry is made with gold plate, which is a base metal covered with a very thin layer of gold. Gold plate is much less expensive than pure gold and is more readily available for that reason.

  • The world consumption of new gold consists of 50% in jewellery, 40% in investments, and 10% in industry.


  • Pure Gold (24k) is soft and rated 2.5 to 3 on the Mohs Hardness scale and therefore it's rare for it be used in it's pure form for jewellery.

Read More - Is Gold a Metal, Element, Compound?
 

Jewelry Basics

  • Gold is alloyed with copper, silver, zinc, nickel, or palladium to produce a harder material for the jewellery trade. 

  • Typical gold jewellery is usually 14k gold, 16k gold, 18k gold and 21k gold.

  • In the Alloy process, Yellow, White, Rose and Green Gold can be produced. 

  • Much like a red lipstick - there is a tone or hue for everyone. For instance, Rose gold is warming and therefore favoured by those with paler skin.

  • In any of its variations, gold is a popular choice for wedding bands, rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces due to its stability and longevity.

Read More - Gold Terminology - Purities vs Karats? Gold Color? Gold Vermeil vs Filled vs Plated?
 

The Pros and Cons of Using Gold for Jewelry Making

Pros

  • Gold is one of the finest metals used for jewellery – traditionally the choice for wedding bands.

  • Gold is one of the most malleable (easily squashed) and ductile (easily stretched) metals, making it easy to work with.

  • Gold is resistant to most acids.

  • Pure gold will not tarnish, however 14k, 16k, 18k will do, but much less so than Silver and over a long time.

  • Gold is less allergenic than silver

Cons

  • More precious and therefore more expensive than Silver.

  • Gold jewellery can become scratched when worn on a daily basis.

  • The presence of nickel may not be suitable for metal allergy sufferers.

Read More - Gold vs Platinum / Silver / Rose Gold / White Gold?