Know Your Metals

The Many Colors of Gold

Gold is a rare metal that occurs in nature in only one color, a deep rich yellow. In it’s pure form gold is referred to as 24 karat or 24K. The total amount of gold in the entire world is less than you would imagine. If you could somehow gather every bit of gold that man has ever mined into one place, you could only build about one-third of the Washington Monument.

Pure gold is extremely soft which makes it impractical for most jewelry applications.

To strengthen the gold other metals are added. This is where the many colors of gold comes from.

In the United States, the standard of fine jewelry is 14K gold. 14K gold is 14 parts gold and 10 parts other metals. These added metals are commonly copper, silver, zinc, nickel and palladium. By varying the proportion of these alloy metals, yellow gold can appear yellow, pink, green or white.

To make a naturally yellow metal appear white, silver colored metals, usually nickel or palladium are added. These added metals have a pronounced bleaching effect on the gold making it appear silver.

White gold does have a slight yellow cast to it. Often on new white gold jewelry a plating of rhodium gives the piece a brilliant white finish. Over time this plating usually wears off revealing the underlying slightly warm color of white gold.

When this occurs some people choose to have their piece replated with the rhodium, however often a professional polishing of the white gold can give excellent results.

To keep you jewelry looking its best stop in for a regular professional polishing done at no charge while you wait. Your gold will look new again!


Platinum is even more scarce than gold. The total worldwide supply of platinum would fit in a cube that is about 20 feet on a side. In other words, all of the platinum in the entire world would easily fit in the average home!

Platinum is a white metal, but unlike gold it is used in jewelry in almost its pure form (approximately 95% pure). Platinum is extremely long wearing and is very white, so it does not need to be rhodium plated like white gold does.

Platinum is very dense and heavy metal, so a platinum ring will feel heavier than gold or silver.

Platinum is significantly more expensive than gold or silver and therefore is normally not used in the full range of jewelry products.

Platinum is mainly used in ladies engagement and wedding rings and is not commonly used to make earrings, pendants, bracelets or necklaces.


Sterling silver is a white metal which is 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper. It is a much softer metal than gold or platinum. Because silver occurs in nature in greater quantities than gold or platinum it is much less expensive. This makes it an attractive metal for popular priced jewelry.

Silver is prone to oxidation or tarnish and requires more frequent cleaning than other jewelry metals. Silver jewelry can easily be made to look like new again using a silver cleaner at or home or by having it professionally cleaned.