This article describes in detail the precious metals we use at the Bario-Neal studio, and we hope it will be helpful in choosing the right material for your commitment band or engagement ring.
What does the karat refer to? Karat is a unit of measurement for gold. 24 karats is pure gold, or 100% gold. The higher the karat, the more pure gold a metal contains. Because pure gold is quite soft, 24kt gold is not used in jewelry but simply used as a reference for measurement. The most popular gold, 14kt yellow gold, is 14 parts pure gold and 10 parts other metal (also called alloy). So 14kt gold is 14/24 karats, or 58.3% pure gold. 18 karats can be figured out the same way: 18/24 = 75% pure gold.
What type of metal should I get if I am hard on my hands? What is the hardest metal? What metals resist scratching best? If you are hard on your hands, we recommend platinum or palladium. Because of their ductility, platinum and palladium will not break or wear thin the way gold will. Platinum and palladium will sooner bend or deform than crack, which is usually an easier repair. All metal will scratch overtime but you may notice it most on softer metals such as sterling silver.
What type of metal should I get for my engagement ring if it is a delicate setting style? Because of its strength and density, platinum is the best metal for rings with delicate settings. As mentioned above, platinum will not wear away so the prongs will never become thin, as they would if they were in gold. Palladium is not recommended for delicate setting styles. If you are interested in a yellow metal, then 18k yellow gold is a good choice as well. If platinum doesn’t work with your budget and you’re interested in a white metal, 18k white gold or 14k white gold are also good options.
Will a brass or bronze ring turn my finger green? Yes. Brass and bronze react with acids in your skin when you sweat. The oxidation of the metal then rubs off on your finger turning it green. This is the same type of oxidation that happens to bronze sculptures or copper roofing, but instead the bronze is reacting with acids and chemicals in the air. In the past we have made rings with an inner band of gold and the outer band made of brass. This is a great solution if you really love the color of brass but want to avoid the skin discoloration.
How do I know if I am allergic to nickel? If you’re allergic to nickel, your skin will turn red and become irritated where you come in contact with the metal. About 1 in 8 women have a nickel allergy. White gold is the only metal we work with that is alloyed with nickel so all other metals are considered nickel free. Therefore, platinum, palladium, 14kt yellow, 18kt yellow 14kt rose, 18kt rose and sterling silver are safe to wear if you have a nickel allergy. Sometimes wearing a necklace that has a 14kt white gold chain is not always the best judge to decide if you have a nickel allergy because it is not worn every day. Because of this, customers in the past who thought they did not have an allergy discovered that they did indeed after wearing the ring for a couple months. If you are unsure about having an allergy or not, consider wearing jewelry containing nickel for a longer period of time, rather than just a day or two. If your skin becomes irritated from a ring that does not contain nickel, consider having it cleaned or cleaning the ring yourself.
Platinum: Platinum is a very strong and naturally white precious metal. It is also very dense and therefore the heaviest. It does not tarnish and is hypoallergenic. All of these qualities contribute to platinum being the best metal to work with- especially for prolonged wear. It is the purest precious metal we work with, containing 95% pure platinum and 5% ruthenium. Ruthenium is of the platinum family and is alloyed with platinum to make it harder.
Continue reading Metal Properties