Five Primary Metal Types
More than 3 billion pounds of aluminum is used annually in U.S. construction, and much of that is in aluminum roof and wall systems of commercial buildings. Aluminum is highly receptive to today’s high-performance, architectural coatings. A wide variety of factory-applied coatings and colors perform well and stay colorfast, which is critical for highly visible steep-slope roof applications. The coatings also help ensure virtually maintenance-free performance and long service life.
Long life and low maintenance are critically important qualities for exterior treatments of commercial buildings. Metal is emerging as the material of choice in many roof and wall applications, and copper is proving the most popular among metal types. A primary reason for this is its permanency. Copper roofs can last decades, if not centuries. The oldest copper roof in the United States was installed on the Olde Christ Church in Philadelphia in 1742. In Europe, the copper cornice around the dome at the Pantheon in Rome lasted more than 1,800 year.
Steel is considered a universal building product because of its strength, versatility, durability, and economic value. Today, standing-seam metal roofs are used for countless structures, including shopping centers, schools, churches, and libraries. According to the American Iron and Steel Institute, this type of roofing system is used in nearly half of all low-rise commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings erected in the past several years.
Terne is produced by coating metals such as carbon steel and stainless steel with a specially formulated alloy containing zinc and tin to dramatically increase corrosion resistance. When terne was first used in colonial times, it contained roughly 80% lead and 20% tin. However, in the latter half of the 20th century, as lead was found to have potentially detrimental effects on health, the lead/tin alloy was replaced. In the mid-1990s, a new and superior zinc/tin alloy was produced that provides improved performance and aesthetics over the original—minus the health risks.
Building owners and architects are increasingly turning to zinc for its long, maintenance-free life and adaptability to various design styles ranging from traditional to modern. Zinc is a natural material that never fades and retains its look over its entire life span. It is also a noncorrosive, environmentally friendly product with a 100%-clear water runoff. Zinc’s anticorrosion qualities have led its use extensively as a protective coating for steel and other metals.
There are several metals used in the creation of fine jewelry. By knowing information about the different metals, their benefits compared with each other and their unique qualities you will be able to make a better and more informed decision about purchasing your jewelry. The metal types commonly used to make jewelry include gold, platinum, titanium, silver and stainless steel. Metals including rhodium and palladium are also used with jewelry. Below you will find information about each of these metal types, together with information about which metals are best for particular types of jewelry.
Gold is the most popular choice for men’s and ladies wedding rings and engagement rings. Gold is also very popular in dress rings, earrings, pendants, necklaces and bracelets.
There are two things to consider when looking at gold. First, which gold carat to choose and second, the gold color or the combination of gold colors available.
There are several carats available for gold. The carat is the gold content of the metal. The carat measures the proportion of pure gold mixed with other metal alloy to make up the final metal. The carat of gold is represented in many countries by the abbreviation ct. Carat can also be called karat, represented by kt or K. You may notice that carat or ct is also used to measure the weight of diamonds and gemstones. Although the same name is used, the two measurements are measuring different characteristics of jewelry. The gold carats normally used in men’s wedding rings are 9kt, 14kt and 18kt. The higher the proportion of gold used in the final metal, the more valuable and expensive the metal will be. So all other things being the same, an 18kt ring will be moreexpensive than a 14kt ring and a 14kt ring will be more expensive than a 9kt ring.
9kt gold contains 37.5% pure gold (375 parts per thousand parts).
14kt gold contains 58.5% pre gold (585 parts per thousand parts).
18kt gold contains 75% pure gold (750 parts per thousand parts).
The remainder of the metals is made up of a combination of alloys, different metals which can help to give the metal its unique appearance, such as a different color. Other gold carats are
used in different parts of the world including 10ct, 22ct and 24ct. It is generally considered that 22ct and 24ct gold are too soft to be used to make men’s wedding rings.
10ct gold (417 parts pure gold per thousand parts) is very similar to 9kt gold and the reason whysome countries use 9kt and other countries use 10ct is due to historical reasons, rather than one being superior to the other. Jewelry is normally stamped with a marking to show the type of gold. For 9kt gold the stamp will normally be the number 375, 9kt, 9kt or 9K. For 14kt gold the stamp will normally be either the number 585, 14kt, 14kt or 14K. For 18kt gold the stamp will normally be either the number 750, 18kt, 18kt or 18K. The stamps only indicate
the carat of metal. They do not indicate the color of the metal. So for example an 18kt yellow gold ring would have a stamp of 750 as would an 18kt white gold ring. 9kt, 14kt and 18kt gold are each relatively hard and durable metal and are suitable for use in all types of fine jewelry. Gold is also suitable to be used in jewelry that is worn on an everyday basis.
When choosing jewelry, particularly rings, many people consider the hardness and durability of gold to be used in their ring. Metal hardness is measured by what is called the Vickers scale where harder metals receive a higher Vickers score than less hard metals. 9kt has a Vickers hardness of 120 and 18kt has a Vickers hardness of 125. This shows 18kt as harder, but the difference is so slight that in practical terms 9kt and 18kt are much the same in terms of hardness. There is another difference that should be considered when comparing 9kt and 18kt. 9kt is more difficult to bend and is a little more springy and therefore a fine 9kt ring may be less likely to bend out of shape than a fine 18kt ring. However, if the ring is of a good sturdy construction neither metal will be likely to bend out of shape.
Next you need to consider the color of gold. Gold is available in several different colors. The most popular is yellow gold, followed by white gold and rose gold, though other gold colors are sometimes also available such as bronze, red and lime gold. Jewelry can also be made using a combination of different gold colors. These jewelry items are sometimes called two-tone, three-tone or multi-colored gold. The gold content of yellow gold is measured in the same way it is measured in for example white gold. So an 18kt white gold ring contains 75% pure gold, just as 18kt yellow gold contains 75% pure gold. The difference in color between yellow, white and rose is determined by the metals used in the alloy mix. As the color difference is due to the metal components in the alloy mix, the color of yellow gold and rose gold will not chip, fade or wear off with age. Yellow gold is made by mixing pure gold with alloy metals such as copper and zinc. Rose gold is made using a mix of pure gold with alloys including copper. The copper provides the rose-reddish color. White gold is an alloy of gold and some white metals such as silver and palladium. Traditionally nickel was used in white gold, however, nickel is no longer used in most white gold made today as nickel can cause reactions with some people. We do not use nickel in our white gold. When white gold rings are new they can be coated with another white metal called Rhodium. Rhodium is a metal very similar to platinum and rhodium shares many of the properties of platinum including its white color. The rhodium plating is used to make the white gold look more white. The natural color of white gold is actually a light grey color. The rhodium is very white and very hard, but it does wear away eventually. To keep a white gold ring looking its best it should be re-rhodium plated approximately each 12 to 18 months. Most local jewelers are able to rhodium plate jewelry for a cost effective price. As each gold color contains the same proportion of pure gold all gold colors with the same carat weight when measured on the Vickers scale have the same Vickers score. There can be a difference in color between the different carats of gold. 18kt yellow gold is more yellow than 9kt yellow gold with 18kt yellow gold having a richer golden color making 18kt yellow gold a more popular choice of yellow gold than 9kt for ladies engagement rings. 9kt rose gold has a darker rose-copper color than 18kt rose gold which has a more subtle rose color. 9kt white gold and 18kt white gold have a similar white color (as normally both have a rhodium plating finish. When comparing the price of the gold colors in the same carat, white gold is normally a little more expensive than yellow gold and rose gold. Yellow gold and rose gold normally have approximately the same price.
When trying to decide between the gold carat types there are three things to consider.
- The metals performance
with every day wear
- The difference in color
between the 9kt, 14kt and 18kt gold
- The difference in price
between the gold carats.
In practical terms, 18kt generally holds up to everyday wear better than 9kt and tends to look better than 9kt as it ages over the years. This is one of the reasons why 18kt is normally preferred for ladies engagement rings rather than 9kt. 18kt is the superior metal for lady’s and men’s wedding rings provided that the ring is not a lightweight construction (Gillett’s Jewelers’ rings are a good construction). However, 18kt is more expensive than 14kt and 9kt, which is usually fine for ladies engagement rings, though in a large men’s ring the 18kt price can be a noticeable difference. 9kt, 14kt and 18kt are each suitable equally suitable for use in dress rings, earrings, pendants, bracelets and necklaces. Many people choose 9kt and 14kt for their earrings and pendants due to its lower price.
Titanium is a natural element which has a silver-greyish-white color. Titanium is the hardest natural metal in the world. It is very strong, three times the strength of steel and much stronger than gold, silver and platinum and yet is very light weight. Pure titanium is also 100% hypo-allergenic which means that it if safe for anyone to wear as it will not react to your skin. Titanium provides several unique factors that make it a good metal for jewelry. It is very strong, more dent, bend and scratch resistant than gold, silver and platinum, is lightweight and importantly offers an exotic array of colors which other metals simply do not. One factor to consider with titanium is that titanium cannot be soldered, which means that titanium rings cannot normally be resized. Titanium rings made using pure titanium can normally be cut-off the finger in the event of an emergency, though they are more difficult to
cut-off than gold, silver or platinum rings. Aircraft grade titanium rings normally cannot be cut-off in the event of an emergency. Titanium is popular in earrings and bracelets for both ladies and men.
Platinum is a white metal, but unlike gold it is used in jewelry in almost it’s pure form (approximately 95% pure). Platinum is extremely long wearing and is very white, so it does not need to be rhodium plated like white gold does. Platinum is very dense and heavy metal, so a platinum ring will feel heavier than an 18kt gold ring. Platinum is, however, significantly more expensive than gold. With all other things being the same, a platinum ring will be approximately twice the price of an 18kt white gold ring. Platinum is a prestige choice and is often chosen for its sophisticated appeal and popularity amongst the rich and famous. Platinum is normally not used in the full range of jewelry products due to its higher price. Platinum is mainly used in ladies engagement rings, ladies wedding rings and men’s wedding rings. Platinum can also be used to make dress rings, though it is not commonly used to make earrings, pendants, bracelets or necklaces.
Palladium is a white metal which is has a silver-grey-white color and is similar to platinum. Palladium is one of the metals that are part of the platinum group of metals. The platinum group metals share similar chemical properties. Palladium is well suited to use with engagement rings and wedding rings. A few short years ago the price of palladium was actually higher than platinum, however, the price of palladium is now lower than platinum, making it a more affordable option.
Sterling silver is a white-grey colored metal which is less expensive than gold, platinum and titanium. Silver is a softer metal than gold, titanium and platinum and does not have hardness that the other metals do. Silver is a popular metal for use in jewelry such as earrings, pendants, bracelets, necklaces and dress rings. It is best used for jewelry that will not be worn every day for an extended period. For that reason it is usually not recommend to be chosen for ladies and men’s wedding rings, and is not suitable for ladies engagement rings. Silver is also more prone to oxidization, sometimes causing the silver to turn black. The silver jewelry can easily be made to look like new again if you use a silver jewelry cleaner (available from most department stores) or if you have your jewelry cleaned by a local jeweler.
Tungsten carbide, also referred to simply as tungsten, is a very hard, strong and durable metal. It’s also quite heavy. Tungsten has a characteristic unique to this special metal – tungsten is highly scratch resistant. Unlike gold, platinum and even titanium, tungsten rings do not scratch with every day wear like the other metals do. It is technically possible to scratch tungsten, though only with objects that are harder than tungsten. So that leaves diamonds, sapphires, rubies and ceramic. Though unless you dragged the tip of a loose diamond along the tungsten, the metal will stay scratch resistant. Having a wedding band that’s scratch resistant offers a lot of advantages. Tungsten always looks new and bright and shiny. Tungsten offers what’s referred to as a permanent polish, which means that it doesn’t need to be re-polished. So, it doesn’t need the polishing maintenance that gold, platinum and titanium rings do. Tungsten stands up to the wear that even the roughest husbands can dish-out, making it a popular choice for men’s wedding rings. Tungsten has an appealing color which almost all men like. The
tungsten color is a grey-white color, similar to that of white gold or titanium. Tungsten is particularly popular in men’s wedding rings. The range of tungsten jewelry is generally more restricted than for other metals. Tungsten rings cannot be resized (as tungsten can’t be cut and re-soldered), so it’s important to have your finger size accurately measured before buying a
Stainless steel is a metal not traditionally used in fine jewelry, though its popularity in dress jewelry is increasing. Stainless steel is a relatively hard and durable metal. It is particularly popular in men’s bracelets, necklaces and men’s dress rings. The range of stainless steel jewelry is generally more restricted than for other metals.