Guide to Precious Metal Types

Guide to Precious Metal Types

Precious metals are an essential part of any fine jewelry accessory. Named for their value and desirability, they exhibit a plethora of distinctive qualities that make each one unique. Their color and luster define these marvelous accessories. When purchasing jewelry, it is important to understand the characteristics of each alloy. They not only sport a distinct hue but also require different maintenance and durability. They also come at different price points.

Sterling Silver

This precious metal has a delightful gray tone and radiant shine. Classic and timeless, sterling silver is often used in fashion jewelry to accentuate colorful gemstones perfectly. Although it is rarely used in engagement rings for several reasons, it is still an enchanting and attractive material. The sophisticated alloy is more affordable than other metals, making it well-suited for everyday accessories and expanding your chic collection, but it is not ideal for bridal jewelry.

Sterling silver is an alloy made from 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals. Silver is naturally brittle and soft, so it is not easily workable. It is subsequently reinforced by other metals like copper and nickel. They lend strength and durability to the silver, which retains its elegant color. However, these other metals impart some negative qualities. Sterling silver can tarnish and dull in color. Some sterling silver alloys, especially those with nickel and chrome, can also cause allergic reactions.

This classic metal was invented and reinvented many times over the centuries. Its 92.5% composition is due to a standard issued by English King Edward I to ensure the metal’s quality. Some higher-purity silver alloys exist, but none are as ubiquitous as sterling silver.

Yellow Gold

Synonymous with luxury and glamor, yellow gold ensures a warm and spectacular chic. It is vivacious, beautiful, and romantic. As a favorite for bridal jewelry, it accentuates colorless diamonds with a graceful hue. Yellow gold also symbolizes prosperity and wealth in many cultures and is sure to make a statement.

Gold is naturally a warm yellow color. This term differentiates it from the other gold alloys used in jewelry. Its purity is measured in karats, not to be confused with carats, which is the measurement unit used for gemstones. Reinforcing metals include copper and zinc. 24k yellow gold is entirely pure. However, it is rarely used as it is expensive and delicate. Like silver, gold is soft and difficult to use.

Throughout history, yellow gold has been the backbone of many economies. Until relatively recently, it was the standard upon which most currencies relied. Subsequently, it has gained a glamorous and high-end status in high-end designer and bridal jewelry. 

White Gold

This bright and beautiful precious metal has a slightly deeper gray shade than sterling silver. Elegant, sophisticated, and classy, white gold is a marvelous alloy with an enchanting aesthetic. It accentuates any gemstone by illuminating it with an understated sheen.

White gold is a fascinating precious metal. It is made by adding white metals like palladium and silver to natural gold for a gray-white color. The alloy is durable, strong, and never tarnishes. Most white gold is plated by rhodium, bolstering its bright hue and shine. This rhodium plating is essential for keeping the jewelry radiant. However, it must be taken to a jeweler for occasional redipping, or else the gold’s yellow color will come through.

White gold is sometimes paired with colorful alloys like yellow and rose gold for a diverse look. Commonly referred to as mixed metal, this combination is stunning and charming. Intricate metalwork from industry-favorite designers serves to further elevate this fascinating style.

Rose Gold

Displaying a lively red-pink hue, rose gold is a romantic and show-stopping alloy that has surged in popularity in recent years. It is beloved for its regal chic and warm aesthetic. Some appreciate its feminine charm, while others enjoy its bombastic glamor.

Rose gold is made by adding substantial amounts of copper to natural gold. Higher karat jewelry has a more distinct champagne hue, while lower karat pieces have a rosier glow. Both are enchanting and lively. Rose gold’s high level of copper makes the precious metal hypoallergenic for most jewelry lovers, since few have allergies to copper.

Rose gold is a metal of many names. This alloy was invented by the Russian creator of the legendary Faberge Eggs. As a result, rose gold was originally called Russian gold, although this term is uncommon today. 24k rose gold is sometimes called “crown gold.”


As the most valuable precious metal available in most jewelry stores, platinum is the ultimate in luxurious jewelry. Brighter in color than both sterling silver or white gold, it is truly radiant and striking. It is used in only the most valuable jewelry. Platinum is often used in engagement rings and wedding bands but is still well-suited for certain fashion accessories and timepieces.

Platinum possesses many qualities that make it unique. Unlike other precious metals, platinum is relatively pure. It contains around 95% pure platinum, as the element is inherently strong. Therefore, it does not need to be reinforced by copper, nickel, or any other metal to be workable in jewelry. Platinum never tarnishes nor needs to be redipped. However, it is not scratch-proof, so some extra care should be taken to maintain platinum jewelry.

This metal is an essential part of modern industry. Platinum is all around us, used in everything from automobiles to electronics to weapons. When used in jewelry, this material will turn heads wherever you go.

Discover Fine Jewelry at Aucoin Hart

Browse a variety of precious metal jewelry at Aucoin Hart Jewelers. Our Metairie showroom in New Orleans exhibits a wide variety of glamorous, glittering jewelry guaranteed to become your favorite. View our vast selection of designer brand timepieces, wedding bands, and more. Everything in our jewelry store has been carefully curated to appeal to our community and neighbors. Discover platinum engagement rings, sterling silver necklaces, white gold earrings, and much more. We also provide services like professional jewelry repair, including resizing, redipping, restoration, and polishing. Call (504) 834-9999 to speak directly with our team for more information about our products and services.

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