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There are a variety of metals choices available for jewelry. Whether you like the allure of platinum or the range of options with the classic gold, you will find a number of stylish pieces, sometimes even combining the two metals. Today, alternative metals like sterling silver, titanium, and stainless steel give you additional options in look, strength, price, etc. Each choice has its own qualities, so base your choice on the ones that you value most.
Precious metals are weighed in "Troy Ounces" or fractions there of. Two very common methods are Pennyweight (dwt) or Gram (g) weight. There are 20dwt to one troy ounce, 5 dwt to 1/4 troy ounce, etc. (very easy). There are 31.1035g to one troy ounce, a little more confusing as 1/4 troy ounce would be 7.7759g.
Here in the US we commonly use the Avoirdupois Ounce to weigh letters, meats, etc. This ounce only has 28.3495 grams, much different than a Troy Ounce. We wouldn't suggest weighing your precious metals on a postage scale unless you completely understand the conversion to troy weight.
Platinum is generally 95% pure and does not tarnish or lose its rich white luster. Platinum is the heaviest of all the precious metals weighing approximately twice as much as karat gold. Its purity makes it hypoallergenic, perfect for people who are sensitive to the alloys used in gold. Platinum is also known for its strength and pliability, just one gram of platinum can be drawn into a fine wire over one mile long.
Pure 24 karat gold is rarely used in jewelry because it is too soft for frequent wear. Gold is mixed with alloys like copper, silver, nickel, and zinc to give different colors, strength, and durability. Gold's purity is measured in karats, which indicate out of 24 parts how many parts are gold. For example, 18kt gold contains 18/24 gold (75%) and 6/24 alloy, while 14kt gold contains 14/24 gold (58.3%) and 10/24 alloy. 10kt gold contains 10/24 gold (41.7%)) and 14/24 alloy. Gold is traditionally seen in yellow and white colors, but is also available in rose or green.
Sterling silver here in the US must have at least 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. Silver is much more plentiful than platinum or gold and is much less expensive. It takes on a much higher polish than any other metal, but it does tarnish. The tarnish can be removed, but silver requires much more care than other metals.
Titanium is a light, strong, and corrosion-resistant metal. Titanium offers you seven times the strength of platinum at about 1/3 of the weight. It is the hardest natural metal on earth and therefore offers more scratch resistance than gold or silver. In addition, titanium is also hypoallergenic. When ordering titanium rings, be extra sure about your ring size. The biggest drawback of titanium rings is that they cannot be sized by traditional ring sizing methods.
Stainless steel is a low cost alternative to traditional metals. It is naturally hypoallergenic and will not rust or tarnish. Stainless Steel will not break or bend under normal usage and is stronger than any other alloy.
Cobalt has a similar look to platinum, with great strength and light weight. Because of its temperature stability, cobalt alloys are often used in engine turbines and surgical implants.
Zirconium is utilized in nuclear reactors and explosive wartime applications. It is very resistant to decay and heat. While most commonly mined from South Africa and Australia, zirconium has also been found in meteorites and moon rocks. It is naturally a silver grey color with a darker oxidized layer.
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