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Metals

Although we offer countless metals to choose from, gold, white gold, platinum and palladium are the most popular.

Platinum

Platinum, a grey-white metal, is denser and stronger than gold and will never tarnish or change color. 

Platinum is 30 times more rare than gold. Due to its rarity, platinum was not commonly used in jewelry until the beginning of the 20th century. Because platinum is extremely durable and strong, it will hold gemstones securely in place for long periods of time. Despite its strength, platinum is extraordinarily pliable; one gram of the metal can be drawn to produce a fine wire more than one mile long. 

Platinum is generally 95% pure. In comparison, 18 carat gold is 75% pure.

Gold

Gold is dense, soft, shiny and the most malleable and ductile of the known metals; a single gram can be beaten into a sheet of one square meter, or an ounce into 300 square feet. Gold is impervious to heat, air and moisture, it is also resistant to tarnish. 

100% pure gold is defined as 24 carat gold. Purity is indicated by caratage. Alloys with lower caratage, typically 22k, 18k, 14k or 10k, contain higher percentages of copper, silver or other base metals in the alloy. 

About half of the world’s gold comes from South Africa. Other major producers are United States, Australia, China, Russia and Peru. 

Because it is so soft, pure gold is rarely used in jewelry; other metals are added to increase the hardness or to create exotic colors. Depending on the metal alloy, gold can take on its characteristics.


Yellow Gold:
 
This is the gold's natural color and is the most common gold used for jewelry. It is usually alloyed with copper and silver. The color depends on the content of gold and other metals. A more pure gold has a brighter yellow color.
     
White Gold:   Usually alloyed with palladium or nickel, zinc and copper. High-carat white gold alloys are far more resistant to corrosion than pure silver or sterling silver. 

While some higher-quality white gold alloys retain their shine and luster, most will be coated with a very thin layer of rhodium, an even whiter metal, to enhance its appearance and reduce scratching. Rhodium plating can dramatically increase the long-term durability, brightness and luster of the finish. But it will wear off over time. Frequently worn jewelry like a wedding ring can require rhodium plating every other year. 

White gold is more durable than yellow gold and generally suffers fewer scratches if cared for properly.
     
Rose Gold:   Rose gold is made by alloying gold with copper, which gives it a distinct copper cast. 

Other colors are blue gold (made by alloying with iron), purple gold (alloying with aluminum), and green gold (alloying with silver).


Palladium

Palladium is now one of the hottest trends in fine jewelry. In fact, entire bridal lines are being reworked in Palladium. 

This rare silver-white metal resembling platinum was discovered in 1803, and has been used in jewelry since 1939. Historically, however, it was most often alloyed with other metals such as white gold. It has only become popular on its own in last few years, mostly as an alternative to platinum or white gold. It is slightly whiter and nearly half the weight of platinum, allowing it to be used with intricate necklaces and bracelets bearing larger gemstones. For the same reason, Palladium can be an especially good choice in earrings. Palladium will never tarnish. 

Over half of the world’s palladium comes from Russia. South Africa, Canada and the USA are also major sources.

Rhodium Plating

Rhodium is very rare; it’s nearly 4 times as expensive as platinum, and 9 times as expensive as gold. Many contemporary jewelry items, especially those made of white gold, are electroplated in rhodium to decrease wear and prevent scratching. 

In addition to its physical properties, rhodium has a beautiful bright white look. But rhodium plating does not last forever. The plating on jewelry that has heavy use, like a wedding ring, can wear away in as little as two years. You can tell when the plating is wearing away; the area without the plating will show the yellowish color of the original white gold. At Ethan Lord, we can quickly replate your jewelry. 

Replating will not fill in dents, dings and scratches, but will make them less noticeable. We always make sure your jewelry is cleaned and repolished before it is replated. The smoother the piece is to start with, the better the effect you will get from the replating process. 

Sometimes, platinum or silver jewelry is rhodium-plated. In the case of platinum, it is because rhodium is a bit brighter than platinum, so it is used to enhance the shine. For silver, however, it may actually decrease its shine. Even so, silver is sometimes plated to help prevent scratching.