Jewelry: Know Your Metals
When most folks go jewelry shopping, they tend to think in terms of gold or silver. There are, however, a number of metal types that are commonly used in the production of jewelry - some of which are designed to be more economical; others, to be more attractive. Regardless of which category you fit into, you'll be able to do your jewelry shopping with more confidence when you've armed yourself with a little knowledge beforehand. Gold Most gold jewelry is made of a combination of metals, since 24K gold is too soft to be practical for everyday use. Generally speaking, gold jewelry is typically made from gold and either nickel, zinc, copper or silver, but may also be produced using a blend of gold and two or more of these other metals. The color of the resulting metal will be determined by which metals were used in the production of the jewelry. For instance, white gold has a higher percentage of nickel, whereas gold that has a rosy tone indicates a greater amount of copper in its base. In the case of certain gold jewelry that leaves discolorations on the skin or appears to tarnish or darken over time, you can be sure that a large amount of metals have been added to the gold during its production. Silver Silver is typically seen in the production of costume jewelry, since it's less durable than gold and tarnishes quite easily. Thus, this rather inexpensive metal isn't generally used to produce jewelry that contains precious stones or higher priced pieces. In addition to being less durable than gold, it is also far more plentiful, resulting in its popularity. Prior to the production of white gold and platinum jewelry, silver was the only white metal that was available on the common market that was considered a precious metal. Variations on the name, such as Nickel Silver and German Silver are not silver at all, but actually separate metals with misleading names. Platinum Due to its rarity, platinum is more expensive than gold and, therefore, not as readily available. In most cases, platinum jewelry must be ordered from a jeweler - you don't generally find this type of jewelry in the display case. In addition to its great strength, it's also resistant to tarnish and has an attractive silvery finish, with a whitish quality. Platinum is an alloy that is actually a blending of platinum and iridium. While this was, at one time, the most popular jewelry alloy (in the 1920s), it is now not a sound economic choice for most people, due to its escalated prices as a result of its rarity. Titanium For those who have a problem in the area of allergies to certain metals, titanium is a wonderful alternative. In weight, it's comparable to aluminum, while its strength matches that of steel. Due to its hypoallergenic properties, this metal is not only used in jewelry, but also in the production of surgical equipment and implants. Surprisingly, titanium is quite affordable, in spite of its characteristics. In fact, the cost is far less than that of either gold or platinum, and the presentation of this type of jewelry is unique in that its color is derived from the process through which it's manufactured, rather than that of paint or other pigmentation processes. Copper While copper jewelry has been on the upswing since the declaration that its properties help to ease the pains of those who are suffering from arthritis became public knowledge, it can typically be found as one of the elements in most pieces of jewelry on the market today. One of the main uses of copper is in the production of watch cases - the less expensive the watch case, the more copper in the alloy. In some cases, jewelry producers utilize a special process called "flame oxidization" in order to obtain copper jewelry that offers a patterned effect. Otherwise, pure copper jewelry tends to retain a natural finish - although, some pieces of copper jewelry are lacquered in order to produce a finished piece. These and many other metals are used in the standard production of jewelry in today's market. Keep in mind that the less expensive the jewelry, the more metals are involved in the alloy. So, if a piece of gold jewelry that you find striking is rather inexpensive, it probably either has just a gold finish or is a blend of a number of other metals.
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