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Jewelry Guide: Which Metal is Right for You?

May 25, 2016

Which Metal is Right for You?

Silver, gold, platinum, titanium, tungsten... 

There are a LOT of metal options available today for jewelry,  so it can get a little confusing to figure out which metal is right for you and your lifestyle. Armed with a little bit of guidance and knowledge, you can confidently choose that next piece of jewelry. Here are some things to consider the next time you go jewelry shopping.

Style Preference

Oftentimes people choose a metal type based on what it looks like, and that's perfectly fine. Some individuals prefer the warmer tones of gold and rose gold, so they opt for those. Others are drawn to cooler hues and silver-toned jewelry, so platinum and white gold top their list. Either way, it is important to love the look of the metal and enjoy what you're wearing.

However, I also believe it's important to know the costs and durability of those metals. Every year jewelry designers are creating new and unique metal options for jewelry like cobalt chrome, zirconium, damascus steel, mokume gane, ceramic, the list goes on. Here's a run-down on some popular metal options you'll see, if you have questions about a different metal, feel free to shoot me an email.

Metal Durability and Costs


Which Metal is Right for You? Platinum

Platinum is a naturally white metal with a cool luster. Platinum is five times as rare as gold which makes it a pricier option. Since it is extremely dense and significantly heavier than gold or silver, it has a remarkably high level of durability. Platinum doesn't wear or tarnish like other metals, which is a very appealing feature, and it's not susceptible to problems like stress-cracking or corrosion like white gold is. While platinum is scratch-resistant, it’s not scratch proof. (The scratches can be buffed out though.)  Although platinum costs more, it requires less maintenance over time.


Gold remains a popular choice for jewelry and is very versatile. Gold is measured using karats, which describes the purity of gold. Pure gold is 24 karats, meaning 24 out of 24 parts are gold.

Gold most often comes in 18K (75% gold), 14K (58% gold) and 10K (about 42% gold). Since pure gold, 24K, is too soft to be used for jewelry, the remaining percent is made up of other metals — like silver, copper, nickel and zinc which gives gold its strength, durability, and hue. Price is dependent on purity and gold can come in a variety of colors such as...

Yellow Gold: Yellow gold will remain a classic choice for those that gravitate toward the warm color tones. Yellow gold can show scratches and other abrasions, but repairs and maintenance are easy.

Which Metal is for You? Yellow Gold

White Gold: White gold gets its look from mixing yellow gold with at least one white metal, e.g. silver, palladium, nickel, etc. White gold is plated with rhodium, a naturally white metal in the platinum family, which helps it resist scratches and tarnishing, and gives it a beautiful pure white, reflective appearance. However, rhodium will wear away over time and require re-plating. Typically rhodium plating will last 2-5 years depending on how much wear the piece receives. The plating on necklaces and earrings will last significantly long than rings or bracelets. Rhodium plating is a very simple process only costs $40.

Which Metal is Right for You? White Gold

Rose Gold: Rose gold has seen a surge in popularity lately. Its warm, pink hue is created by combining yellow gold with a copper alloy. Rose gold is durable thanks to the strength of copper, but could pose a problem for someone allergic to copper. Rose gold can be polished just like yellow gold, and does not require any plating. 

Which Metal is Right for You? Rose Gold

Sterling Silver

Sterling silver is the whitest of all metals and is often a good choice because it is less expensive than gold. Since 100% silver is too soft for most jewelry, it is a mixture of 92.5% silver and 7.5% metal alloy. Rhodium plating is frequently added to silver to enhance its beauty and protect it from tarnishing. With rhodium plating and diligent, consistent care, sterling silver jewelry can maintain a polished, reflective look for many years. It's important to remember that sterling silver jewelry, because of it's softness, is not nearly as durable as gold or platinum. Therefore we don't recommend it for engagement rings, wedding bands, or other types of jewelry you'd expect to wear daily for decades to come. 

Which Metal is Right for You? Sterling Silver


Lightweight and strong, titanium is a smokey gray-hued metal that is highly resistant to corrosion and scratching. If you work around water, titanium is the metal for you and it's 100% hypoallergenic. Despite it's strength, titanium is extremely lightweight. One thing to keep in mind though: Titanium, and all other alternative metals are impossible to resize. While titanium is a less expensive metal choice, its price can be driven up by the cost of labor to make it into jewelry. 

Which Metal is Right for You? Titanium


Tungsten, is a very hard metal with a gray color in it purest form. Tungsten "carbide" jewelry is made from an alloy of 80% tungsten and 20% carbon alloyed with other metals, which makes it dense, scratch-proof, and low maintenance. It's typically very affordable, too. Rings made with this can be plated in white, gold or black, which give it a very sharp look!  On the downside, since tungsten is so hard, it can shatter on high impact and this metal cannot be resized at all. Fortunately our designers have programs in place to swap out your damaged or non-fitting band with a new one.
Which Metal is Right for You? Tungsten
We're honored that Mullen Bros. Jewelers ranks #1 in overall customer ratings among all jewelry stores in Southeastern Massachusetts and we will continue to take care of our neighbors and friends, one jewel at a time.
Which Metal is Right for You?

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