When choosing a ring, one of the first things you’ll be asked is what type of metal you would like. While this may seem like a simple question, there are a number of factors to consider when choosing a metal that go well beyond just price. Below is a breakdown of the different metal types we use in our jewellery at K. Amani Fine Jeweller, and some considerations for each.
Gold is one of the most timeless and instantly recognisable metals available. Valued for millennia for its purity, lustre, and malleability, gold remains one of the truest and most sought after metals in jewellery.
The purity of gold is distinguished by its karat. For instance, 24 karat (or 24k) refers to gold that is 99.99% pure. All other karats of gold are alloys that contain a specific portion of other metals. Each refinery uses its own unique recipe to form gold alloys. Some of these recipes contain nickle, which can cause allergic reactions in some people. For this reason, gold alloys from New Zealand do not contain nickel, and we at K. Amani do not sell jewellery that includes any nickel.
Common karats of gold include 9k, 14k, and 18k. The percentage of pure gold in the alloy is determined by dividing the karat by 24. For instance, 9k contains 37.5% pure gold. 14k contains 58.3% pure gold, and 18k contains 75% pure gold.
Pure gold is naturally soft. The secondary metals in a gold alloy give the gold its strength. This is the reason why we recommend 9k gold to people who work with their hands, or who naturally treat their jewellery a bit rough. 9k gold is much more durable and makes an ideal choice for a ring in these situations. However, because 9k gold contains more secondary metals, the colour of the gold is less pronounced.
Yellow gold polishes up with a distinct yellow shine that has evoked desire for centuries. Yellow gold is classic, timeless, and resistant to fads. It is also generally cheaper than other gold colours. Different colours of gold are available based on the alloy recipe. Gold in its pure form is yellow. K. Amani also offers white gold and rose gold.
The formula for white gold was patented in 1920 as a substitute for the more expensive platinum. White gold is one of the most common metals in NZ engagement rings and wedding rings today. The white colour is actually a very pale yellow created by a specific combination of secondary metals into the gold alloy. To give white gold its famous white brilliance, white gold is often rhodium-plated.
Once worn nearly exclusively by the Russian aristocracy in the 19th Century, and later popularised by Cartier, rose gold is in vogue once again. Rose gold provides a beautiful contrasting colour to yellow and white gold within the same ring. Also, the rose colour can complement and enhance the colours of certain stones like amethyst, blue sapphire, and morganite. Like with yellow gold, the richness of the rose colour increases with the karat.
Sterling silver is the official name for an alloy of silver consisting of 92.5% purity. Sterling silver remains perhaps the most common precious metal for jewellery due to its beauty, malleability, and relative inexpensiveness. As a result, sterling silver jewellery is much more affordable than jewellery in other precious metals. One well-known drawback to silver is its propensity to tarnish. This is true if silver is left unused. However, one of the best ways to prevent a silver ring from tarnishing is by wearing it every day.
Perhaps the least famous of the precious metals used in jewellery, palladium has grown in popularity in the past decade. Palladium provides a good degree of hardness and a shine similar to platinum. However, palladium is significantly less expensive than platinum. As a result, customers often choose palladium as an excellent substitute.
Platinum is the pinnacle of the precious metals used in jewellery, and is highly regarded for its rarity, durability, and shine. Customers who want jewellery of exquisite quality and luxury choose platinum. Platinum also remains one of the favourite choices for engagement rings, especially for rings with individual diamonds of 0.5 carats or greater. King Louis XV of France deemed that platinum is the only metal fit for a king. We think the same is true for a queen and a princess, too.