Know Your Metals

Gemstones are only part of the jewelry equation. At the heart of each beautiful piece of jewelry lies a foundation of equally beautiful precious metal. Choosing a metal relies on equal parts personal preference, budget considerations, maintenance, and structural aspects. Here are the choices we offer at Mathew Jewelers

“Pure” gold – gold not mixed with other metals to increase its hardness – is called 24 karat (24K) gold.
The karat quality marking tells you what proportion of gold is mixed with the other (alloy) metals. For example, fourteen-karat (14K) jewelry contains 14 parts of gold, mixed with 10 parts of an alloy metal. To make white gold, yellow gold is plated with a silvery white alloy such as nickel or rhodium. If not re-plated, white gold can lose its silvery appearance.

A popular choice for engagement and bridal rings, platinum is naturally white, more durable, and heavier than gold. Like gold, platinum is mixed with other metals. However, the quality markings for platinum are based on parts per thousand. For example, the marking “900 Platinum” means that 900 parts out of 1000 are pure platinum, or in other words, the item is 90% platinum and 10% other metals. The abbreviations for platinum — Plat. or Pt. — also can be used in marking jewelry.

“Silver” or “sterling silver” describes a product that contains 92.5% silver – marked accordingly with the numbers “925.” When an item is referred to as “silver plated,” it features a layer of silver bonded to a base metal. The designation of “coin silver” is used for compounds that contain 90% silver.