Jewelry Metal Guide

There are many different types of metals used to make jewelry today. Traditional gold and sterling silver designs are often now be available in a host of alternative metals. These metals are durable, stylish and, like gold and silver, perfect for everyday wear.

Piercing Pagoda offers a wide range of jewelry styles in metals that suit any taste and budget. The metal used in the jewelry you wear is a personal choice. This guide will give you an overview of some of the types of metals available at Pagoda.


  • Gold has the longest and most storied history of all precious metals. It is soft enough to be worked into interesting shapes, making it perfect for creating jewelry. Its warm color and scarcity gave it great value in early civilizations.
  • As jewelry, it was gold's softness and natural beauty that made it appealing, in addition to the fact that it does not corrode or tarnish. It is so soft, in fact, that pure gold is rarely used in jewelry. In order to increase durability of gold it is mixed with other metals; highest percentage of the mixture is either combination of copper and silver or combination of copper and zinc.
  • The quantity of gold in a given alloy is expressed in karats (abbreviated as K). Pure gold is 24K; 18K gold is 75% gold and 25% other metals. In other words, each karat is equal to roughly 4.17% of the total of the alloy. The most commonly purchased and worn gold is 10K and 14K.
  • Pure gold (24K) will not tarnish however all gold will darken over time, the higher the karat of gold the less darkening will occur. Regular care and cleaning will keep your jewelry looking new indefinitely.
  • As the karat weight drops, the metal becomes more durable but less yellow. Sometimes, gold that is a lower karat weight will be plated in high-karat gold to enhance the color.
  • Keep in mind that gold plating will wear off with time, and your jewelry may need to be re-plated.
  • When buying gold jewelry, look for a stamp with a karat mark, the manufacturer's registered trademark and the country of origin, on the inside of the shank (ring) or the back of the item. All gold jewelry has a karat (K) stamp.
  • Gold is timeless, elegant and the perfect metal for everyday wear.
  • There are multiple combinations of the different colors: Two-Tone (yellow and white gold), Tri-Color (yellow, white, and rose gold), and Bi-Color (rose and yellow gold)

White Gold

  • White gold was developed to give a different look to jewelry. It is made with similar properties as yellow gold, but it has been mixed with different metals to give it a white color: often silver, zinc or even platinum.
  • White gold should not be confused with platinum, which is much rarer than gold and more valuable.
  • The karat weight system used in white gold is the same as that used in yellow gold.
  • 18K yellow gold and 18K white gold contain the same proportion of gold; only the remaining 25% of the alloy is different.
  • Sometimes, white gold is plated with an even whiter metal, such as rhodium (a very rare member of the platinum family), to enhance its appearance. Rhodium-plated items will wear and eventually need re-plating.

Rose Gold

  • Rose gold is made with similar properties as yellow gold, but instead of mixing with silver or zinc, it is only mixed with copper.
  • Rose gold is also known as pink gold.
  • The karat weight system used in rose gold is the same as that used in yellow gold.
  • 18K yellow gold and 18K rose gold contain the same proportion of gold; only the remaining 25% of the alloy is different.

Sterling Silver

  • Sterling silver is a plentiful metal and is commonly used to make fashion jewelry including rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets.
  • Like gold, silver is too soft for use in its pure state and must be combined with other metals for durability. However, silver tends to tarnish, making it less popular in some forms of jewelry.
  • The standard for sterling silver has remained unchanged since 1300 when Edward I of England established an early trade practice rule for silversmiths, decreeing that sterling silver must consist of 92.5% pure silver alloyed with 7.6% copper.
  • The term "sterling" refers to the composition of the metal, never to the weight of a finished item.
  • Jewelry made of silver parts and gold parts must carry dual designations such as "Sterling silver and 10K gold."
  • Sterling silver is an affordable alternative to white gold or platinum.

Bonded, Gold Filled, and Plated

  • A piece that is bonded is the best combination of silver and gold. It means that these two precious metals are together forever. The bonded wire contains a fine sterling silver core wrapped in gold. 1/20th of the total weight must be gold.
  • Gold filled metal jewelry follows a similar process to bonded metals with the difference being that it is a base metal (non-precious such as brass or bronze) wrapped in gold. 1/20th of the total weight of the product must be gold.
  • With reasonable care, both gold bonded and gold filled jewelry will last a lifetime.
  • The process of plated jewelry places a thin layer of gold (or silver) on any metal (sterling silver, bronze or brass) and carries a hallmark of GP for gold pated or SP for silver plated.
  • Any of these combinations can be used for any color of gold.

Stainless Steel

  • Stainless steel is a metal with many uses. Most commonly, stainless steel is seen in kitchenware, appliances, hardware, architecture, watches and jewelry.
  • The silvery-white color of stainless steel creates a mirror finish that retains its shine and color very well, and it is resistant to tarnishing.
  • The most popular uses for stainless steel in jewelry are primarily in men's jewelry, watches, bracelets, rings, earring posts and body jewelry.
  • Stainless steel is easy to clean, and it is highly durable, scratch resistant and resistant to corrosion.
  • Hallmark for stainless steel is SSTL or SST.


  • Titanium is versatile, lightweight and strong, with a silvery-white metallic color. This metal is as strong as steel but is 45% lighter in weight, and is similar to platinum in its resistance to tarnishing.
  • This metal is often used for armor plating, the construction of spacecraft and aircraft parts and jewelry design. Titanium's strength, durability and lustrous beauty make it an ideal choice for jewelry.
  • Titanium is a good choice for rings and bracelets that are worn daily.
  • Titanium is also hypoallergenic, relatively unlikely to cause allergies.
  • Titanium is most commonly used in men's jewelry, but is becoming more available in women's styles.
  • Hallmark for titanium is TTN.

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