Gold Alternatives

For most people, gold has been the traditional metal choice for everyday jewelry, especially wedding bands and sets. In its pure form, gold is a soft metal and is quite malleable. For this reason, 24k (pure) gold is rarely used for jewelry. More common is 18k, 14k, or 10k alloys, which consist of pure gold combined with silver, copper, nickel, or other precious metals. The higher the karat value is, the purer the alloy. Though many times stronger than 24 karat, gold alloys can still wear down after time and can develop fine scratches rather easily. Some people have sensitive skin and develop allergic reactions when they wear gold close to their skin, especially lower-karat alloys like 10 karat. For all of these reasons, we find that increasingly more customers are turning to alternative metals for their jewelry needs.

 



A pair of titanium wedding bands.
Titanium is a precious metal found in meteorites and was originally referred to as menachite. It was dubbed "titanium" about 200 years ago by Dr. Martin Klaproth, who named it after the titans of Greek mythology.

Titanium is extremely valuable in the world of jewelry for both its neutrality to the human body and its strong, durable aircraft-grade form. It does not cause a reaction on even sensitive skin, and is used in the medical field for heart valve and bone replacements. Titanium is lightweight, stable, heat resistant and rustproof, making it one of the most versatile metals known to man. In the 1950's, Lockheed produced the SR-71 Blackbird spyplane, which was built almost entirely out of titanium. Soon afterward, titanium became the metal of choice for the aerospace technology industry. Titanium has also been found to be useful in various other applications: eyeglass frames, bicycles, watches, even architecture and computers. But some of the most creative uses of titanium can be seen in jewelry.

Aircraft-grade titanium alloys are valued for the fact that they are stronger, more durable, and lighter than gold, silver, or platinum. Titanium alloys are about three times stronger than steel, but about 45% lighter. It is important to remember that regular titanium's hardness can be compared to platinum's, and that only aircraft-grade titanium alloys provide the highest strength and durability. When considering a titanium jewelry purchase that will last a lifetime, we recommend buying the strongest alloy available. This will provide you with the most resistance to wear and ultimately maintain you jewelry's style for years longer than other metals.


A platinum engagement ring. Platinum is used to hold stones more often than other alternative metals.
Platinum is a very rare, pliable, and durable precious metal with a brilliant white luster. Like titanium, it is found in meteorites and is a popular choice for those who desire the color of white gold, but need more strength and wear resistance from their jewelry.

One way that platinum differs from gold is that, though it does tend to scratch, the scratches do not represent a loss of material, only a displacement. When gold scratches, tiny shavings are lost in the form of metal dust. After time, a gold piece can actually be worn away, but a scratched platinum piece will not shave off or lose any of its total mass. This prevents reactions caused by tiny metal shavings that get caught close to the skin. Lending to its hypoallergenic properties is the fact that it is generally 95 percent pure. 18k gold, the purest form of gold commonly used for jewelry purposes, is only about 75 percent pure. Because of its purity, platinum has also found applications in the medical field, especially in the production of pacemakers.

 


A pair of tungsten carbide rings
Tungsten is titanium's opposite when it comes to weight. A piece of tungsten weighs almost fifty percent more than a piece of steel the same size. It is known to be the hardest metal in existence, with hardness close to that of a diamond. It has one of the highest melting points of all metals and has the highest wear resistance of any metal in the world. Formerly known as "wolfram", tungsten resembles titanium in appearance and is also neutral to the human body. Though it has developed a high standing in the jewelry world more recently than platinum or titanium, tungsten has found various applications in the hardware industry because of its toughness. It is commonly used for light bulb filaments, cutting tools, and abrasives. But for jewelry applications, tungsten is virtually unbeatable for durability and resistance. Owning a piece of tungsten jewelry is a unique and stylish way to express yourself and ensure your style lasts forever.

 


A pair of sterling silver rings
Sterling Silver is the phrase used to distinguish a silver alloy that is 92.5% pure, with the other 7.5% usually consisting of copper. The copper adds strength and luster to the otherwise whitest metal known to man. Silver in its pure form is ductile, malleable, and an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. It is not chemically active and does not oxidize, but it does react with sulfides in the air, which causes the infamous silver tarnish. The copper present in sterling silver can also contribute to the discoloration of the metal over time.

Sterling silver is often used for jewelry, utensils, plating, and coins. It is considered by some people to be too soft for use in jewelry due to the danger of losing stones that have been set in it. Nevertheless, it is still prized by many for its beauty and versatility, and is commonly used for relatively inexpensive wedding bands.