As most of you know, accessories can either make or break your look. With jewelry being the main “go to” accessory it can be difficult choosing the right piece that compliments your wardrobe. In order to choose the right accessory, you must first understand the components of the piece you are choosing. The use of metals in jewelry making can be dated back to 6000 BC with gold being one of the first metals used in the process. Choosing the right metal for any piece is vital in determining it’s durability, appearance and cost. Check out some custom jewelry makers and ask them what is the best metal for the jewelry you are interested in. Since metal plays such an important role in jewelry making, it is necessary to educate yourself on metallurgy terminology.
Metals are divided into two categories in the jewelry world; Precious and Non-Precious. Precious metals command a higher value than their counterpart and are easier to work with. They are what is referred to as a Noble metal; which means they are resistant to corrosion and retain a high surface luster. Gold, Silver, and Platinum are all classified as Precious metals. Non-Precious metals tend to be less expensive as well as have a tendency to oxidize &/or corrode more easily than Precious metals. Iron, Nickel, Copper, and Titanium are classified as Non-Precious metals.
With a basic understanding of metal types, you can now decide which one will compliment you and your wardrobe. Below are some of the most commonly used metals in contemporary jewelry and a few ideas on how to wear them. The rule to wearing jewelry is the same as applying makeup; have fun with it and if you think you have too much on, you probably do!
Gold is very malleable which makes it ideal for jewelry making. Gold is a soft metal and is often mixed with copper and zinc to help make it more durable. The term karat is used when describing the percentage of gold in the piece. Here is a listing of gold purities:
24 Karat: 99.9 percent Pure
22 Karat: 91.7 percent Pure
18 Karat: 75 percent Pure
14 Karat: 58.3 percent Pure
12 Karat: 50 percent Pure
10 Karat: 41.7 percent Pure
Gold is fashionable for any kind of look. Gold statement pieces command attention and layered gold chains can help to create a bohemian look. Gold is a classic and timeless metal which will last though the years.
Silver, like gold, is a soft metal and is often mixed with copper to increase durability. Jewelers use the terms fine and sterling to describe the purity. Fine silver has a .999 level of purity and is not often used for jewelry making since it is extremely malleable. Sterling silver is a mixture of metals that contains 92.5 percent silver; it must contain at least 92.5 percent silver to be classified as sterling. There are many reasons jewelry buyers prefer silver over gold with a few of the reasons being:
Silver is more lustrous than gold.
Silver is more affordable than gold.
Silver looks flattering on all skin tones.
Silver has the ability to look casual or dressy.
Silver, just like gold, is timeless and will always be a staple in anyone’s wardrobe. A trend that has become quite popular is mixing gold and silver jewelry. It used to be considered a fashion faux pas, but anything goes these days….especially gold and silver.
Platinum is considered to be more rare than gold. It is also mixed with other metals, but must have at least a 95 percent purity level to be considered platinum. Platinum is a silvery white metal and is commonly used in wedding rings. Platinum is costly and therefore not commonly used for everyday accessory pieces.
Copper is a Non-Precious metal and has a warm reddish brown to it. Relatively inexpensive, it can oxidize with time and create a greenish hue in addition to it’s original color. Copper is trendy right now; it really helps when trying to portray a casual or dressy bohemian look. Statement cuffs and long hammered bar earrings are the look right now and it looks great on any skin tone.
Jewelry is an intricate part of any wardrobe and allows one’s self to express their personal style. Whether it be a timeless piece or the latest trend, using your knowledge of metals can help you choose the piece that is right for you!