Shopping for jewelry can be an exciting experience, but it is important to do your research and make sure you know what you are spending your hard-earned money on. From metal types to gem quality and carat, there are a few things to consider before making any jewelry purchases.
My first tip would be to know your metals: The most common jewelry metals are gold, silver and platinum.
When talking about gold, Karat is a measure of the purity of gold. The higher the karat, the higher the percentage of gold in the jewelry. The most commonly used karats for jewelry are 10k, 14k, and 18k. The gold is then mixed with various alloys to create different colors and finishes. For instance, 10k rose gold is 10 parts gold and 14 parts copper. While 10k yellow gold is 10 parts gold and 14 parts sterling silver. 14k white gold would be 14 parts gold and 10 parts sterling silver. The higher the gold content the higher the value.
Gold-plated jewelry has a thin layer of gold on the surface, while non-plated jewelry is made from solid metal throughout making it more durable and longer lasting. Plated jewelry can be less expensive, but it may wear off over time and unfortunately, most are not repairable and do not hold their value.
When looking for a more affordable option, a lot of people opt for jewelry made of silver. Just like gold, silver is also measured by its fineness. The fineness of silver is typically expressed as parts per thousand. For example, a fineness of 925 means that the silver is 92.5% pure. The remaining 7.5% is made up of other alloys such as copper. Keep in mind, sterling silver jewelry will need to be polished regularly to keep its bright shiny surface.
Looking for more durability? Platinum would be your best choice. Platinum's most common purities are 850, 900 and 950. Platinum is denser than gold and silver and the same piece of jewelry would weigh quite a bit more if made in platinum. Combined with the fact that this metal is rare, platinum is the most expensive option of the three.
While there are many other metals and materials these days... gold, silver and platinum are three of the most popular metals used to make jewelry. Each has its own unique characteristics and advantages. It is up to you to educate yourself and decide which option is best for your needs.