Nettletons Jewellers Guide To Metals

11 January 2017

Jewellery is made of many different metals, including sterling silver, gold, palladium and platinum. Each of these metals has its own properties and special character.

Sterling Silver

Silver is the most affordable precious metal. Kept clean and polished, it looks a beautiful bright colour. It is much softer than other metals and can be scratched easily. This is why silver is rarely used for wedding rings. Silver needs regular care as it can tarnish or oxidise. Most scratches can be polished out though.


Gold comes in degrees of purity, known as carat. The higher the carat, the more gold is contained in the metal. 24 carat is considered pure gold. Gold is commonly available as 9 carat (one-third pure gold) or 18 carat (three-quarters pure gold). Gold jewellery comes in three colours: yellow, white and rose gold.

Yellow Gold

This is the gold most people are familiar with. To make 9ct or 18ct yellow gold, pure gold is mixed with silver, copper and zinc to make a harder alloy. Adding these metals makes yellow gold more resistant to scratching and denting than pure gold.

White Gold

White gold does not occur naturally. It is made by adding other metals to natural gold. 9ct white gold is made of an alloy of yellow gold and silver. It has a white, creamy colour with a hint of yellow. 18ct white gold adds palladium for a rich, dark white. The palladium makes 18ct white gold more resilient than the 9ct variety. White gold can also be rhodium plated for an even whiter finish. This gives rings a nice lustre, but the plating needs to be replaced periodically.

Rose Gold

Rose gold also does not occur naturally. It is created by adding copper to gold. The warm blush of rose gold comes from the copper. It was very popular in the 19th century and has come back into fashion recently.

Palladium and Platinum

Palladium and platinum are both harder and heavier than silver or gold. They do not tarnish, are very durable and are unlikely to show evidence of everyday wear. They are great for sensitive skin as they are hypo-allergic. Both metals are rarer – and more expensive – than gold. Palladium is slightly darker coloured than platinum. It is less dense and more affordable. Platinum is the rarest, most precious metal – and also the heaviest.

For more information about our guide to metals call Nettletons Jewellers Clitheroe on 01200 422127 today.