The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Jewelry Types: Everything You Need to Know to Make Informed Purchases
With so much jewelry on the market today, it can be difficult to understand what to look for and how to identify high-quality pieces that are worth the investment. If you are trying to build a timeless collection of luxury jewelry pieces, it’s important to have the right information on your side to make informed choices.
In this article, we will break down our ultimate guide to high-quality jewelry and the most popular jewelry types. Keep reading if you want to learn about the true value of your jewelry!
Different Karats of Gold
Pure gold is 24 karats, so jewelry pieces that are 14k gold are real gold with relatively high purity. In this case, the jewelry is made from approximately 58.3% gold and 41.7% alloy. 14k gold is a popular alternative for people that want to splurge on resilient pieces of jewelry, without investing thousands of dollars. Due to its durability, and affordability compared to alternatives, 14k gold is often used for wedding rings and engagement rings.
18k gold is composed of 75% gold with the remaining 25% including copper, silver and other metals. This type of gold is often used in stone studded jewelry and different types of diamond regalia. 18k gold is significantly harder than 24k gold so it’s not as easily scratched, alongside its lower price compared to pure gold. Due to the high purity level, 18k gold is less likely to oxidize or leave behind a green residue compared to 14k or 10k gold.
24k gold is composed of 100% gold. 24k gold is very soft and therefore is not recommended for everyday wear.
Types of Gold Jewelry
If you see gold-plated jewelry, it means that the piece is covered in a thin layer of gold. The jewelry will be made from a cheaper metal or alloy that is then covered with traces of gold to create a ‘pure gold look.’ In general, gold plating will include coatings at 0.5 microns, which is a relatively low amount of gold. If a piece of jewelry has a small number of microns, it’s known as gold flashed or gold washed. Gold-plated jewelry is popular in most jewelry stores as it’s a highly affordable option, similar to costume pieces.
Gold-filled jewelry is higher quality. It is made from a base (i.e. jeweller’s brass) and has a solid layer of gold that has been mechanically bonded to the base. Gold-filled jewelry has almost 100 times more gold than gold-plated jewelry. The gold won’t rub off because of the mechanical bonding.
Gold Vermeil is a type of gold-coated metal. There are three main criteria that have to be met for a metal to be vermeil, including the following: the base of the metal needs to be 92.5% sterling or 99.9% silver, the gold purity needs to be a minimum of 10 karats, and the gold thickness should be around 2.5 microns. Gold vermeil is also available in different shades like rose gold. Gold vermeil is popular in mid-range jewelry and it’s the signature gold used for Olympic gold medals.
Solid gold is a piece of jewelry made entirely of gold, with no other base metal. As shown above, it comes in various karats.
Types of Silver Jewelry
Fine silver is an extremely soft metal that is purer compared to sterling silver. It is a flexible material that can be molded into small wires or thin see-through sheets. Anything that is 99.9% silver is considered fine silver. These items are seen as highly valuable commodities and precious investments.
Sterling Silver is a silver alloy that contains 92.5% of silver (by weight) and 7.5% of other metals like copper. Sterling silver is popular in commercial products as it doesn’t rust, promises sufficient durability, and looks similar to fine silver. If you have a lot of silver jewelry that isn’t costume jewelry, it is probably sterling silver.
Silver Vermeil is also referred to as gilded silver. Vermeil is a jewelry technique that originated in the early 18th century by French goldsmiths. Sterling silver vermeil is created similarly to gold vermeil. It is used in fine jewelry since it is well-crafted and known for being long-lasting.
Precious gemstones are natural gemstones used in high-quality jewelry making. Some popular gemstones include diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. Precious gemstones are a high-ticket item because they are irreplaceable. They are mined from the earth, jaded, bevelled, cut and polished to create a stunning accent piece.
A semi-precious gemstone is anything that is not a diamond, rubie, sapphire or emerald. Although they are called “semi-precious” gemstones, it doesn’t mean their value is less than precious gemstones. For the most part, semi-precious gemstones like abalone, cinnabar, amazonite and turquoise, are more plentiful however there are some exceptions. Many semi-precious gemstones make amazing accent pieces to luxury jewelry from bracelets to earrings to necklaces to rings.
We hope this guide helped you understand the different types of jewelry and their overall value. By understanding the names of popular metals and gemstones, you can begin to decipher high-quality pieces from typical costume jewelry. Although there are plenty of ways to get a similar look in low-cost jewelry, nothing can replace a high-value, artfully crafted jewelry item!