It’s natural for white gold to fade, sometimes yellowing, here’s why. Most white gold rings are flash plated with a very, very thin coating of rhodium (a pure white metal) to give them a more brilliant, pure white appearance. This rhodium plating will wear off over time and reveal the white gold ring underneath. Because pure gold is very yellow, no matter how much you alloy it with other white metals like zinc and nickel, it will almost always retain some of its yellowish body color.
Before you set out to sell your gold jewelry follow these tips to make sure what you get back in cash is worth parting with jewelry that often represents cherished memories.


Understanding the various jewelry metal options for your fine jewelry will help you build a jewelry wardrobe that fits your life and style.

Fine jewelry metals have captured imaginations for centuries. You may prefer one kind of metal, or you may be surprised to discover a new favorite among the wide range of metals used in jewelry today. Each has its distinct advantages and some have unique looks and applications for jewelry. Understanding the qualities of each type of jewelry metal can help ensure that the piece you select today will offer a lifetime of joy and satisfaction.

To be confident when you shop for fine jewelry, review our guides on GoldPlatinum, Silver and the materials Beyond Precious Metals.

How to Care for Jewelry Metals

Each jewelry metal or material requires special care, so review our jewelry metal buying guides for specific instructions. Here are some general care tips for metal jewelry to keep your jewelry timeless:

  • Store jewelry in separate pouches or compartments to avoid scratching.
  • Clean jewelry in a solution of mild dish detergent and warm water, rinse thoroughly and dry with a soft cloth. You can also use a soft toothbrush.
  • Do not wear metal jewelry when working with chemicals or swimming in chlorinated water.
  • Check with your local Jewelers of America Member jewelry store for special care instructions if your jewelry contains additional diamond or gemstones.


Pure, rare, eternal – these qualities set platinum apart. The metal of choice for late 19th- and early 20th-century royalty – in both Europe and Hollywood, this precious metal has enjoyed a surge in popularity particularly among discriminating bridal jewelry buyers.

 

Platinum Strength

Platinum’s strength surpasses both gold and silver and assures your most precious diamonds and gemstones will be protected and secured. Platinum is one of the strongest, most enduring and densest metals. In fact, a piece of jewelry containing 90-percent pure platinum weighs 60 percent more than a 14-karat gold piece of similar size.

Platinum Purity & Quality Marks

Platinum jewelry has a high level of purity that makes it naturally hypoallergenic and, thus, the perfect choice for people with sensitive skin. In the United States, platinum jewelry generally contains 85- to 95-percent pure platinum. By comparison, 14-karat gold is only 58.3-percent pure gold.  Jewelry marked only “Platinum”, “Pt” or “Plat” contains at least 95-percent pure platinum. Platinum content can also be marked by 999 for 99.9% pure platinum, 950 for 95% and so on. In the United States, jewelry containing less than 50-percent pure platinum cannot be marked with the word “Platinum” or any abbreviation thereof.

Platinum Durability

Platinum’s durability makes it ideal for wearing every day, as it sustains very little metal loss over a lifetime of wear. Over time, platinum jewelry will develop a natural “patina,” which can be returned to a bright, white shine with a simple repolishing.


From the ancient worlds of Byzantium and Egypt 4,000 years ago, to the New World mines of Mexico and Peru during the 17th and 18th centuries, silver’s qualities have fascinated kings and conquerors throughout the ages. Today, sterling silver is a favorite metal for creative and innovative designers due to its affordability and malleability.

 

Durability

Silver is a naturally soft metal and is alloyed with other metals, most commonly copper, to increase its strength and durability. While sterling jewelry can tarnish or darken in color, it will never rust. And the bright reflective luster of sterling is restored with regular polishing and cleaning.

Quality Marks & Purity

In the United States, only jewelry that is at least 92.5% pure silver can be called or labeled “silver,” “sterling silver” or “sterling.” Sterling silver jewelry may also be marked with a 925, .925, 92.5 or “Ster” on the inside of the jewelry piece.

What is Vermeil?

Sterling silver jewelry is often electroplated with karat gold. When the thickness of the karat gold plating is at least 100 millionths of an inch thick, it is referred to as “vermeil,” pronounced “vermay.” Vermeil jewelry is an affordable alternative to jewelry made completely with karat gold. Items meeting this definition may be stamped with standard sterling markings or with the word “vermeil.”

Sterling Silver Care & Cleaning

How do I stop my silver from tarnishing?  

Unfortunately silver does tarnish when exposed to oxygen, which leaves a dark, black buildup.  To combat this, you can store silver jewelry in an airtight ziplock bag. To slow the process down, there are tarnish prevention strips you can purchase and store with your silver jewelry.

Regular polishing will easily remove the tarnish. Silver jewelry should be taken to your local jeweler annually for cleaning and to remove tarnish.


Gold has captivated mankind since the dawn of time. The Egyptians, the largest users of gold in the ancient world, equated gold with the sun and reserved its use exclusively for pharaohs. Gold jewelry – either purchased for yourself or as a gift – provides a lasting symbol of life’s significant events, emotions and accomplishments.



Gold Purity & Quality Marks

Pure gold, or 24-karat, is generally too soft for use in most jewelry, so gold is alloyed with other metals to increase its strength. In the United States, 14-karat gold is the most common jewelry alloy. Recent guidelines now allow for jewelers to sell gold under 10K, however it is important to note that pieces under 10K contain very little gold and will not have the longevity or quality like pieces over 10K.

When purchasing gold, especially from resellers, always look for a quality mark in the gold jewelry you buy. They will be stamped or engraved with the karatage of the piece. Gold-plated jewelry is often indicated with a “GP” marking. 

Quality Marks on Karat Gold Jewelry

KaratageKarat MarkEuropean MarkPercent Pure Gold
10-karat 10K 417 41.7%
14-karat 14K 585 58.3%
18-karat 18K 750 75.0%
24-karat 24K 999 99.99%
 

Beyond Yellow: The Gold Alloys

When discussing metals, you'll often hear the term alloy. A metal alloy is a metal made by combining two or more metals, to increase the strength and/or resistance to corrosion of the base metal. The ratio of each component determines the properties of the alloy. Alloys can also create a variety of colors.

White Gold

One of the most popular gold alloys is white gold, and it is an affordable and fashionable white-metal option. White gold is created by alloying gold with nickel or palladium, zinc and copper. White gold alloys are never truly “white” in color, so most white gold jewelry is plated with rhodium, a platinum group metal. White gold jewelry requires a little more extra care during its lifespan, because the rhodium plating may show signs of wear. A simple and quick re-plating at your local jewelry store can easily restore its brilliant white finish. Learn why white gold yellows >

Rose Gold

Fine jewelry customers are having a love affair for rose gold. The beautiful warm blush flatters skin tones. Pink or rose gold is created by alloying gold with copper. Most often, you’ll find 14-karat rose gold jewelry, which is 58.5% pure gold with copper added for color.

Rose gold comes in a variety of shades of pink, that blend well with gemstone colors and white and yellow metals.

Gold-Plated, Gold-Filled and Vermeil

Gold-plated, gold-filled and vermeil jewelry are affordable alternatives to jewelry made completely with karat gold. These pieces have the look of solid gold, but their durability and value are significantly less. These are great options for those wanting to save money or trendy pieces. These gold alternatives are distinguished by minor differences.

Gold-plated is the cheapest alternative, in which a thin layer of gold covers a low-quality base metal, normally copper, brass, through an electroplating process. These pieces will be the quickest to tarnish but vary in price depending on the karatage used.

Vermeil (pronounced “vermay”) is similar to gold-plated, but the base metal is a high-quality silver and true vermeil plating is at least 100 millionths of an inch thick and 10k or higher.

Gold-filled jewelry has a lower-end base metal, like copper or bass, but has the thickest layer of gold, bonded with heat. The piece needs to have at least 5% gold weight to be authentic “gold-filled.”

Thinking About Selling Your Gold Jewelry?

Use our tips for selling gold jewelry  to make sure what you get back in cash is worth parting with jewelry that often represents cherished memories.

Ceramic Jewelry

Ceramic, technically known as high-tech ceramic, is a jewelry material that marries high tech and high fashion. Made of a material called titanium carbide (TIC) – also used in space shuttle shields – ceramic jewelry it is created using exacting jewelry craftsmanship and polishing.

Material

It is scratch-resistant, durable, lightweight and hypoallergenic, making it the perfect jewelry material for an active and style-conscience woman or man. It also doesn’t tarnish, oxidize – or darken --  over time.

Appearance

High-tech ceramic jewelry is available in a range of colors including white, black, pastels and bold hues. It is often combined with metals. Ceramic is popular material for watches and in men’s jewelry, paired with other durable metals, like tungsten carbide.

Palladium Jewelry

A platinum group metal, palladium offers many of platinum’s benefits – bright white color, purity and strength – at a more affordable price. However, palladium is neither as rare nor as dense as platinum.

Material

Palladium jewelry alloys are very pure. Look for “950 Palladium,” which is 95-percent pure palladium usually mixed with five-percent ruthenium, or “900 Palladium,” which is mixed with 10-percent iridium.

Appearance

Unlike most white gold jewelry, palladium does not require plating to maintain its lustrous white color; palladium will not tarnish. It is hypoallergenic.

Precious Metal Clay

Appearing in the early 1990s in Japan, precious metal clay (or PMC) allows designers to create amazingly detailed jewelry items in a wide range of styles and prices.

Material

Precious metal clay consists of tiny particles of silver, gold or platinum mixed with an organic binder and water. This creates a pliable “clay” material that can be shaped into forms like soft clay. When heated to high temperatures, the organic binding compound burns away leaving the solid metal piece. It can then be worked like any piece of conventionally manufactured jewelry to create styles often unattainable or too costly to create using traditional methods.

Appearance

Jewelry made from precious metal clay is silver or gold, many times with intricate detailing because of the materials malleability.

Stainless Steel, Titanium & Tungsten Carbide

Stainless steel, titanium and tungsten carbide offer affordable alternatives to precious metal jewelry and are gaining popularity, especially in men’s jewelry.

Material

These industrial metals have the benefits of being very strong, lightweight, hypoallergenic and scratch resistant, so they are well suited to active consumers who wear jewelry on a daily basis. When used in chain or link bracelets, the metals are less likely to break – making the need for repair infrequent.

In fact, tungsten is considered the world’s hardest metal substance; it ranks 8.0-9.0 on the Mohs Hardness Scale (diamonds are a 10.0). However, their strength also limits their applications: resizing rings is sometimes difficult, but many manufacturers offer resizing services.

Appearance

They share a steely gray appearance, which men in particular find appealing.


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