A piece of jewelry is more than just the precious stone. Half of its beauty lies in the precious metal used for the bangle or band. Thus, when you are shopping for an engagement ring or a pendant necklace, it is also important to ask what metal is best for jewelry. Even for aspiring metal smith jewelry makers, knowing the basics of precious metals can enhance both skills and products.
Precious metals make up the foundation of jewelry. Finding the best match in terms of color combination can make or break the overall look of your jewelry. Start with understanding the different types of material that you can work with and work your way through building a good eye for buying and matching jewelry with gemstones and beads.
What Metal is Best For Jewelry?
Now knowing your way around metals for jewelry may involve a lot of research on your part, which is why we did the heavy lifting for you. Here, we’ll seek to answer the question–what is the best metal for jewelry? Hopefully, by the end of this read, you’ll have an idea of which among the multitudes of metals is the ideal material for your jewelry of choice.
Types of Metals Used in Jewelry
While there may be a lot of precious metals for various uses, jewelry works well with a handful of tried and tested variants. Most of the differences can be due to the cost, the shade, and the durability of the material.
Gold and Gold-filled
Perhaps the most valued and most well-known metal used in jewelry would be gold. Yet, in reality, the amount of gold that is in actual jewelry may dictate if it is fine, semi-fine, or even fashion jewelry. Gold can be mixed with other metals, including zinc, nickel, and copper when used in jewelry.
The higher the gold content is in a piece of jewelry, the higher its Karat measure. This also means it will be more expensive than a mixed version. For any jewelry, the highest measure would be 24K, which is considered to be pure gold. However, depending on one’s use and physical reactions to the gold, this isn’t necessarily the best variant. 24K gold is very malleable, making it delicate as a piece of jewelry. For fine jewelry that will be worn daily, such as engagement and wedding rings, 18K gold or 75% gold purity is already a good bet. Jewelry makers also like working with 14K gold because it does not take away the brilliance, but makes for a stronger metal overall.
Note that gold can also come in various colors, depending on the mixture of metals. Yellow gold usually has a mix of gold, copper, and silver. White gold mixes silver, palladium, and other white metals. There’s also a green gold variant, which jewelry makers often create by taking out the alloy in the mix.
Silver and Silver Overlay
Another precious metal that is high on the jewelry metals list is silver. Jewelry owners often choose sterling silver when they want a long-lasting precious metal that has a unique sheen to gold. If gold gives a warmer glow that best matches rubies, silver can give off a youthful vibe. It’s the kind of jewelry that can greatly match a broader range of accessories.
For instance, sterling silver can be found in belt buckles, cuff links, and other body jewelry types. While most people associate gold with fine jewelry, sterling silver may be best linked to semi-fine pieces. Yet, do note that sterling silver tends to tarnish more than gold. This can easily be dealt with through proper cleaning, but consistent care should always be practiced.
For jewelry makers, the only downside to working with silver as the base metal jewelry is that it is softer than its other counterparts. This may come down to more of a taste and preference issue than a durability one, given the next option for metals.
Platinum for Rarity and Durability
If you want your bespoke fine jewelry to be even more unique, opt for a platinum base metal. A lot of jewelry designers use this because it is among the strongest and purest metals. Best of all, a lot of hypoallergenic jewelry is made of platinum. If you are asking what is the best metal to use for jewelry, especially for those who have allergies, a relatively more expensive but safe choice is platinum.
If platinum ever had a downside as a base metal, it would be its weight. That’s why this is still one of the best metals for earrings and pendants.
Titanium for Strength
If you want to know what is the most durable metal for jewelry, your best bet would be titanium. Some even like it due to its blackish or grayish appearance. It is commonly used for a number of rings, particularly for those used frequently and are exposed to high wear and tear.
However, titanium rings make for better simple bands or bangles. Because of its hardness, this type of metal cannot be soldered or set with stones. It cannot be exposed to heat in the same way that other metals can be, lest it damages the material. So, if you are looking for metals for jewelry making that is simple and straight to the point, this should be on top of the list.
Rose Gold For Beauty
A big hit for millennials and the younger market rose gold may be one of the prettiest types of metals to use. When paired with colored gems, especially the much-loved rose quartz, it creates a delicate piece of jewelry. Rose gold gets its color from a higher copper content mixed with the gold. While it is technically gold in nature, more copper gives it an almost golden bronze tinge.
While rose gold does not tarnish, it is prone to scratching. Many jewelry owners may need to have them polished every once in a while to make them look brand new and well-kept.
Cobalt and Tungsten for Longevity
These two materials would be one’s best choice when deciding what metal is best for jewelry that can be used outdoors. More couples are opting for cobalt metal on their wedding rings because it won’t tarnish even with frequent wearing. It’s also hypoallergenic, which is perfect for those with sensitive skin.
Tungsten shares the same quality for durability. For those who want a scratch-resistant precious metal that can retain a good gleam and be shaped in various outcomes, tungsten is a worthy precious metal for your jewelry.
Tips For Buying Metals for Jewelry
Each precious metal has specific pros and cons when one considers the likes of frequency of use, setting needs, and aftercare needs. These differences should factor in when you are starting to look for the kind of metals for your jewelry. The same goes for individuals who are using metals for jewelry making. Before you jump at the sight of a beautiful gemstone, make sure you also consider the precious metals on which it is set.
Know the Metal’s Durability for Use
People wear different kinds of jewelry for different occasions. For instance, fine jewelry is usually reserved for special occasions, whereas costume jewelry can be paired with random outfits to make it pop. However, it is also important to examine in-between use. Case in point, you may wear a semi-fine necklace daily. If you do, it’s best to examine the metals that are used for it.
24K gold might be tempting to have because it connotes pure gold. But because it is a soft kind of metal due to purity, you’re more likely to damage it in a short period of time. Go for pieces with lower karats between 10K to 14K. This does not necessarily lower its value because, based on your usage, it will be the better match.
Are You Allergic to It?
A lot of people have allergies to nickel, which is a shame as a lot of the gold products are made with it. For some, the safest option when it comes to what jewelry metal will not tarnish or cause allergies would be to go for tungsten, platinum, or titanium, which are mostly used for hypoallergenic pieces. Gold may be pretty to look at, but not when you break into hives while wearing it.
The Best Match: The Right Gemstone For Your Bands and Bangles
Another thing to focus on would be gemstones. If you have found what metal is best for jewelry that you will use, the next step would be to find the gemstone to set it off. With the exception of the harder metals, almost all precious metals can be set with stone.
Diamonds are very versatile not only due to its clear color but also because it is a known precious stone. It can match with almost any metal and can be set in any jewelry type. Nothing beats the classic of yellow gold or white gold to bring out the clarity of a diamond.
Rubies and Warm Stones
The warmth of stones like rubies, garnets, and rose quartz gives them a very feminine vibe. As such, when paired with the likes of rose gold, they become even warmer and softer. These are best paired with the gold tones unless you want the stark contrast between cool and hot–which can work too!
Sapphires and Cooler Stones
On the color wheel, stark cool colors compliment each other very well. Thus, the likes of deep sapphires and rich emeralds are a perfect match with white gold or silver. Of course, just as lapis lazuli merges blue and gold in a very artistic manner, you can still try to mix in cool and warm tones and get a great combination. Just make sure that for the likes of platinum, the cleanliness of the metal, which is what it’s known for, usually works best either with white or cool-colored stones.
Metal on Metal: An Emerging Trend
If you prefer simpler accessories, especially for bracelets, a good option would be mixing metals for a different kind of appeal. Because of the evolving techniques in jewelry making, it has expanded to create more options for varied tastes. Bespoke jewelry is now ushering a new wave of combinations.
Gone are the days when gold and silver can never go together. In some cases, a lot of people like the gradient finish that gold, rose gold, and green gold tend to make when worn as a set of bangles.
Wearing It Right: Best Jewelry For Your Skin Tone
Another factor to consider when choosing or making your own jewelry is knowing which best appeals to a specific palette and skin tone. This is why a lot of metals used in costume jewelry either stick to one particular color combination or a myriad of gradients so that customers will have their pick.
Ideally, when picking jewelry, you want it to accentuate your outfit. Part of that is deliberately ensuring that your outfit has been curated to match your overall style and color. While there are generic assumptions of skin color, even those that fall under generic shades will have unique highlights of their own. It’s important to get a feel for where you are in the spectrum so that your jewelry will best complement your look.
The Three Tones
As a general rule, there are three skin tones. There is warm, neutral, and cool. You can determine your skin tone by looking at the color of the veins on your wrist. When you are under natural light, see if the veins are green or blue. Green veins mean you have a warm skin tone, while blue means you are more on the cool side. Being in the middle suggests that you are neutral, which means you can play with both palettes.
Seasonal Skin Tones
The colors of the season can help determine which matches your skin tone best. For cooler skin tones, you can opt for winter and summer colors, which are either vivid or pastels. As such, silver jewelry looks great on this skin tone because it sets off the color with simple but vivid pendants or statement jewelry that are lighter in color.
For warmer skin tones, autumn and spring colors work best. This means that you will dazzle in gold tones. Autumn colors of warm hues are the perfect blend of chic when paired with warmer gemstones. Peach and pink punctuate spring, especially those from the reddish shade. Your skin tone will set off the favorite rose gold and rose quartz combination.
And there you have it; our take on what metal is best for jewelry. Just keep in mind that finding the right jewelry requires both the stone and the metal used. Make sure to develop a good eye for colors. This way, you can mix and match the metals and stones in the various jewelry pieces you wear.