Since ancient times, gold has been one of the most popular choices for both men's and women's jewelry. "Carat" refers to the pure gold content of the metal. The higher the proportion of gold, the more value and expensive the metal.
- 9kt gold contains 37.5% pure gold (375 parts per thousand)
- 14kt gold contains 58.5% pure gold (585 parts per thousand)
- 18kt gold contains 75% pure gold (750 parts per thousand)
The remainder of the metals are a combination of alloys which can give the metal a unique appearance or different color. Yellow gold is the most popular color, followed by white gold and rose gold. Specialty colors include bronze, red or lime gold.
Sterling Silver is a white-grey color metal, softer and more affordable than gold, titanium or palladium. It is popular for use in a wide variety of jewelry applications, including earrings, pendants, bracelets, necklaces and dress rings. Usually it is not recommended for wedding or engagement rings, as it isn't as durable as other more suitable precious metals. Silver also tends to oxidize and turn black, but this can be remedied with a silver jewelry cleaner.
Platinum is a white metal which is used in jewelry in almost pure form (approx. 95% pure). Very long wearing with a white appearance, it is also very dense and heavy. Significantly more expensive in gold, on the average you will find a platinum ring to cost approximately twice the price of an 18kt white gold ring. Due to its high price, it is considered a prestige choice and is mainly used for engagement and wedding rings.
Titanium is a natural element with a silver/grey/white appearance. It is the hardest natural metal in the world and has three times the strength of steel, yet is very lightweight. Titanium is also hypo-allergenic, safe for anyone with tendencies towards skin reactions. One limitation of Titanium is that is cannot be soldered, which means rings made of it cannot normally be resized.
Stainless Steel is a relatively hard and durable metal that is gaining in popularity in mostly men's jewelry applications, such as in bracelets, necklaces and rings. Its lower cost makes it an attractive option for men's wedding bands.
Highly scratch resistant, Tungsten is a popular choice for men's wedding bands. Although heavy, it stands up to wear and always looks bright and shiny, so it doesn't need the polishing maintenance that gold, platinum and titanium rings do. Tungsten cannot be cut and resoldered, so rings cannot be resized. Tungsten in jewelry use is mostly limited to rings.
Palladium is a white metal with a similar appearance to platinum. Once priced higher than platinum is now a more affordable option to platinum and used mostly in the production of rings.
Rhodium is a silvery-white highly reflective hard metal. It is often electroplated on white gold or platinum to provide a bright reflective surface. Solid Rhodium jewelry is very rare, since Rhodium has both a high melting point and poor malleability, as well as very high cost.