Learn About Precious Metals
The process of determing the perfect precious metal can be overwhelming. Between balancing the durability of a metal with the aesthetics, many factors come into play. Don't worry we're here to help. We have created this Precious Metal Guide to help you to make an educated decision when purchasing your next peice of jewelry.
Feel free to click on each of the tabs below to learn more about each of the most popular types of precious metals used in jewelry. When you are ready to begin shopping for jewelry, or if you have any additional questions, please visit one of our showrooms.
Gold is the oldest precious metal known to humankind. Because of the metal’s luster and remarkable properties, gold has been crafted into the world's most coveted and exquisite jewelry.
Gold is the world's most malleable (able to be pounded thin ) and ductile (able to be drawn to a fine wire) of all metals. In its pure state, gold is too soft to be worn as jewelry, so it is usually mixed with other metals, such as silver, copper, nickel and zinc, to make it harder. A mixture of metals is called an alloy. The quantity of gold in an alloy is expressed in karats (abbreviated as k or kt).
Gold's softness and malleability makes it the perfect metal to create jewelry. It is also nontoxic, resists tarnishing, doesn’t corrode, is hypoallergenic, and retains its value making it very popular to wear. The natural color or shade of gold is yellow, which also happens to be the most commonly used shade of gold when making jewelry. Yellow gold is alloyed usually with copper or silver to add strength because of how soft pure gold really is. Another popular shade of gold is white gold made by mixing yellow gold with zinc, nickel, palladium, or copper.
Platinum is a popular choice of metal for fine jewelry. The cool white coloration of platinum, along with its ability to accentuate a diamond, particularly makes it a popular choice for ring settings. Morgan’s Jewelers carries a wide selection of platinum jewelry.
Aside from its outstanding aesthetics, one of the primary reasons platinum is so popular is due to its remarkable resilience. Typically, when other metals are scratched (e.g. gold or silver), a small amount of that particular metal is lost. This, however, does occur to platinum. While platinum may still scratch, the metal is so durable that none of it is actually lost.
Palladium Jewelry continues to gain in popularity around the world. It's light weight and luster is transforming it into the metal of choice for new wedding bands and unique custom pieces. Palladium jewelry was hard to find just a few years ago, but now is enjoying mainstream status in the jewelry industry.
Alone or alloyed with silver or gold, palladium offers some of the same metal working properties as other jewelry metals, and remains tarnish free. It also offers jewelers a sharply different pricing point than either gold, white gold or platinum. It is more precious than silver and whiter than platinum. Because it is also lighter than platinum, nearly half the weight, more intricate necklaces and bracelets can be made capable of bearing larger gemstones with no gain in overall weight. For the same reason, Palladium can be an especially good choice in earrings.
With the price of platinum and gold reaching recent highs, use of palladium for jewelry has seen renewed interest domestically and abroad. Palladium is an excellent material for electroplating, and sees significant use in the plating of jewelry and watches.
Silver has a long and noble history, second only to that of gold. Popular as a jewelry metal for thousands of years, it is harder than gold and much more plentiful. The abundant supply and ease of working it make silver more affordable and a good alternative to gold and platinum (although it does tarnish and need polishing from time to time).
Sterling silver is a silver alloy with a fixed standard of purity. It consists of 925 parts silver (out of 1,000) and 75 parts copper. Like gold alloys, sterling silver can be used to plate other metals. All silver jewelry we offer at Morgan's Jewelry is guaranteed sterling silver and is stamped .925.
Silver was one of the first metals to be used and can be traced back to the ancient Egyptian, Phoenician, and Byzantine empires. The work of silver was also popular in colonial America where it developed along other craft traditions. Silver is now the metal that is mostly used throughout the world.