What Metals Are Used to Make Jewelry?
Using jewelry to adorn human beauty is as old as human existence itself. This act consistently improved over time with the discoveries of diverse materials useful in making jewelry.
Several materials are used in making jewelry.
The best materials to make jewelry are gold because it has great value, durability, and visual appeal.
However, this is not the only suitable material. Others include;
- Base Metals
These materials vary in their value and properties. They also have different characteristics in terms of hardness, brightness, oxidation, etc.
Do you customize jewelry, or are you a lover of adornment? Either way, it is vital to understand the properties of various jewelry materials.
This guide provides you with a list of standard and not-so-common materials for making jewelry, including their properties, pros, and cons.
Read on to find out!
Gold is among the most precious materials on earth. Aside from the fact that it is a rare metal, it is also valuable.
Gold has always been a beloved material for making jewelry. The recent circulation of gold consists of about 50% of jewelry.
Pure gold usually has a bright reddish color, and its value is rated in Karats (K). However, the properties of gold make it challenging to use it alone in making jewelry. It is usually used with other materials like silver to make wedding bands, necklaces, and earrings.
In the early days, gold helped produce currencies, making it one of the antiquity metals. A metal of antiquity is any metal humans identified and utilized during the prehistoric era.
Pure gold is about 24 Karats and has a 2.5-3 on the Mohs hardness scale. This relatively soft nature makes it challenging to use gold alone.
Gold is alloyed with other hard metals like nickel, silver, copper, or zinc. Hence, most gold available in jewelry is usually 14k, 16k, 18k, and 21k Gold.
Alloying gold can help you produce jewelry of various colors, including white, yellow, green, and rose.
Gold is suitable for making several types of jewelry, but it is most prevalent in making wedding rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings.
Why use gold to make jewelry?
There are several advantages of using gold for making jewelry.
Some of the benefits include:
- Gold has high stability and longevity.
- It is easy to work with gold due to its high elasticity (ability to stretch) and malleability.
- Gold is precious, and it is one of the most refined metals for making jewelry.
- Gold will not tarnish over a long time, and it is resistant to most acids.
- Gold is less allergenic than silver and some other metals.
What are the disadvantages of using gold to make jewelry?
Some of the disadvantages of making jewelry with gold include:
- It is more expensive and less common than silver and most other materials.
- Alloying gold with nickel can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.
- Gold is not suitable for everyday use.
Silver is another precious, valuable material for making jewelry. It is also a metal of antiquity.
Silver has had diverse uses since early times, including its use for coinage and jewelry. Some of the best jewelry you can make with silver includes cufflinks, necklaces, belt buckles, bracelets, rings, earrings, and other body jewelry.
Like gold, pure silver is also too soft to be used alone as jewelry. It rates within 2.3 to 3 on the Mohs hardness scale. Therefore, silver is usually alloyed with copper to improve its hardness and other properties.
You will find most sterling silver jewelry in a proportion of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper.
Why use silver to make jewelry?
Silver is beautiful and sparkling, which makes it attractive as jewelry.
Aside from this, there are other advantages of using silver to make jewelry, which are:
- Most artisans fancy silver due to its high ductility and malleability.
- It is cheaper than gold and platinum, with high value.
- Silver offers high reflection, which makes it an ideal body adornment.
- Pure silver has antibacterial properties.
- It lasts longer than most other materials for making jewelry.
What are the disadvantages of using silver to make jewelry?
Some of the cons of using silver as jewelry include:
- Silver is not suitable for daily wear due to its softness and tendency of scratching and bending.
- Silver jewelry can take on a black or green hue after repetitive use.
- It is pretty sensitive to adverse conditions like corrosion and acids.
- The presence of copper as an alloy can make some individuals experience allergic reactions.
Titanium might not be one of the metals of antiquity, but it is one of the metals with the most strength. It has a similar color to silver, but it has higher strength, and it is more lustrous.
After discovering titanium in Cornwall in 1971, it was named after the titans of Greek mythology.
Unlike gold and silver, titanium is rated six on the Mohs hardness scale, making it tough. In fact, it has the highest strength-weight ratio of all-natural metals.
Titanium forms one of the best alloys for gold. The combination of gold and titanium in jewelry is usually available as 24 Karat gold. It is best for bracelets, earrings, neckpieces, rings, and other body accessories. Its hypoallergenic properties also make it suitable for body-piercing jewelry, surgical implants, and dental work.
Considering the hardness and durability of titanium, it is suitable for producing various types of jewelry.
Why use titanium to make jewelry?
Below are some advantages of using titanium to make jewelry:
- Titanium is entirely hypoallergenic, and it has high resistance against corrosion.
- It forms an excellent alloy with gold.
- Titanium is strong, lightweight, easy to color, and easy to recycle.
- Titanium is resistant to scratch and chemicals.
What are the disadvantages of using Titanium to make jewelry?
Some of the major cons of using titanium to make jewelry include:
- It is less ductile and malleable, which makes resizing difficult.
- Titanium is quite rare and expensive.
- It is difficult to join titanium pieces, except you mix them with other metals.
Platinum is close to titanium in most of its properties. This silver-white metal is a malleable precious metal and, of course, one of the rarest materials for making jewelry. It is highly dense and has other properties that signify longevity and luxury.
Platinum is one of the ideal materials for fine jewelry due to its durability and longevity. Its properties also make it suitable for bracelets, watches, earrings, wedding bands, and necklaces.
Platinum is more rigid than gold and silver but not as hard as titanium. It rates 4–4.5 on the Mohs of hardness. This property also makes it less malleable than silver and gold.
Consequently, you don’t make jewelry with pure platinum. You can mix it with other metals like copper, rhodium, and palladium to make it more malleable.
Why use platinum to make jewelry?
The advantages of using platinum in making jewelry include:
- Platinum does not tarnish due to its high durability and longevity.
- It does not fade from its original silver-white color.
- It has high resistance against corrosion and heat.
- It is ideal for individuals with sensitive skin due to its hypoallergenic properties.
What are the disadvantages of using platinum to make jewelry?
Some of the disadvantages of using platinum to make jewelry include:
- Platinum is relatively scarce and too dense.
- The metal is more expensive than pure gold and white silver.
- It is often heavier than most other materials.
7. Base Metals
Base metals are a collective name for copper, zinc, bronze, stainless steel, and brass. In the jewelry space, base metals refer to materials that can produce oxides relatively quickly. They are often used as costume jewelry due to their easy oxidation. Nevertheless, it helps make necklaces, bracelets, watches, rings, and other body jewelry.
They are often very cheap because they do not contain any of the noble or precious metals.
The hardness of base metals varies significantly between 2 to 6 Mohs on the hardness scale, depending on the mixture.
Copper is quite soft, malleable, readily stretched, and ideal for forming alloys.
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, and it usually appears like gold from afar.
Why use base metals to make jewelry?
Here are some of the benefits of using base metal in making jewelry:
- Base metals are relatively cheap and economical.
- They are widely available and generally stocked.
- Their properties allow easy coloring techniques and even allow 3D Printing.
What are the disadvantages of using base metals to make jewelry?
Some of the cons of using base metals to make jewelry include:
- They tarnish and oxidize easily and quickly in the air.
- More individuals have allergies to base metals compared to other metals.
- Base metals can accumulate traces of lead as they become old, which is quite dangerous.
- Platinum costs more than gold when having jewelry made.
- When buying gold jewelry the lower the karat the lower the cost.
- Example 14 karat gold is cheaper than 18 karat gold.
The average consumer request 14 karat gold.