Although there are a few very popular choices, the offerings for various types of metals in jewelry are vast, and it can be difficult to sort through the overabundance of unclear and conflicting information regarding the properties of each metal. This is why I’ve taken the time to sort through the information for you and compile it in a brief guide so as to give you a handle on understanding what your options are and what might work best for you.
As a part of the bespoke jewelry process, I will be more than happy to make a suggestion for you based on your desired metal qualities, but feel free to peruse this list first to get an idea of what metal may be right for you. Beneath each metal description is a note that indicates the availability of each metal at Soul Society Jewelry - metals that are commonly used and offered in ready to ship pieces are denoted as being offered, while metals that are less commonly used and only available upon request are denoted as acceptable for requests.
Base metals exist in abundance and are often used in fashion and costume jewelry thanks to their strength and affordable prices. Brass, bronze, copper, and aluminum are among the most common, but without protective clear coatings they are prone to quickly tarnishing (with the exception of aluminum, although aluminum can become dull and require polishing). These metals can be reinforced with nickel, which makes them a riskier choice for those with metal sensitivities.
Soul Society Jewelry occasionally offers base metal for ready to ship jewelry pieces, however it is always available per custom request.
Plated Base Metals Base metals, most often brass and copper, are often electroplated with higher quality noble metals like silver and gold, which allows for the high end look and feel without the price tag. Oftentimes these electroplated base metals are coated with a tarnish resistant coating to protect the shiny topcoat from darkening like the base metal underneath.
Soul Society Jewelry does offer tarnish resistant plated silver and gold for ready to ship and custom jewelry pieces.
Gold Filled “Filled” is a bit of a misnomer for this one, as technically there is no inner gold filling of any kind - rather, gold filled is gold plated onto a base metal, however the layer of gold is 100x thicker in filled gold VS plated gold, or a minimum of 5% gold applied to the base metal. Thanks to the thick layer of gold, filled metal is widely regarded as a highly tarnish resistant and durable metal. It should be noted that some people may experience slight dulling or darkening in the creases of filled metals due to a combination of factors like environment, skin secretions or chemicals one may wear that come into contact with the jewelry, how it is stored and if it’s cleaned after wearing, etc. Soul Society Jewelry offers both 14k rose and yellow gold filled metal for ready to ship and custom jewelry pieces.
Solid gold has been regarded as a metal for gods and royals for as long as human history can remember. Solid gold never tarnishes, and its soft nature lends itself to great workability. Although gold can last beyond lifetimes with proper care, the natural softness means it can easily wear out. Many jewelers choose to alloy gold with a stronger metal, as very high karat gold is not suited for wear on a regular basis. Pure gold is termed 24 karat gold, aka 100% gold - so a metal that is half pure gold and half alloyed with another metal (50%/50%) would be 12 karat gold. The lower the karat (or percentage of gold to alloyed metal), the lighter the gold tone. In my personal opinion, you will see 14k-18k karat gold most often in the jewelry making world. Depending on the alloyed metal, gold can take on different colors from yellow to pink to white.
For rose gold, the pink colored alternative to the ever popular yellow gold, pure gold is alloyed with copper. To create white gold, pure gold is often alloyed with palladium or platinum, giving the gold a bright, shiny, sterling silver-esque color, although white gold is recommended to have yearly touch ups by a jeweler to retain the bright white color. Soul Society Jewelry accepts requests for solid yellow, gold, or white jewelry between 12-18 karats.
Depending on time and place, silver may have been valued higher than gold at various points in human history. Silver is much more abundant than gold and platinum and thus, fetches a comparatively lower price. Unlike gold, however, when exposed to the air, silver tarnishes and requires polishing to maintain the bright and shiny silver look. Because pure silver is extremely soft, it is often alloyed with harder metals for improved durability. Soul Society Jewelry does not offer pure silver for jewelry pieces.
Sterling Silver Sterling silver is consists of 92.5% silver and is often alloyed with a base metal like copper or brass to improve durability. Like pure silver, sterling silver requires care and polishing to retain the natural bright white sheen. This is what I would consider an affordable metal middle ground between something like plated metal and something like gold or platinum, although those with metal sensitivities may not always be able to wear sterling silver. Soul Society Jewelry occasionally offers sterling silver for ready to ship jewelry pieces, however it is always available per custom request.
Argentium Argentium is a newer silver alloy that is alloyed with a touch of germanium to be less high maintenance, more tarnish resistant, and generally more suited to those with sterling silver sensitivities than traditional sterling silver. Argentium is typically 93.5, 94.0, or 96% silver, and the added germanium improves the durability of the metal. Soul Society Jewelry offers argentium for ready to ship and custom jewelry pieces.
Platinum + Palladium Platinum and palladium are both rarer than gold and as such, are among the most expensive jewelry metals. Palladium is currently more rare and more expensive than platinum due to its use in the auto industry. While platinum is a more popular choice for jewelers due to its malleability, palladium is the harder and more durable between the two, but both are extremely tarnish resistant, hypoallergenic, and long lasting. Soul Society Jewelry accepts requests for platinum or palladium jewelry pieces.
Rhodium Rhodium is a part of the platinum metal group as well as platinum and palladium, and is among the rarer metals. Rarely if ever will you see solid rhodium jewelry, although due to its natural tarnish resistance and bright silver color, you will often see rhodium plated in jewelry materials. Rhodium is more durable than both silver and gold, and is considered hypoallergenic due to the fact that it effectively prevents nickel and silver from coming into contact with skin.
Soul Society Jewelry does offer rhodium plated for ready to ship and custom jewelry pieces, although it may occasionally be paired with tarnish resistant plated silver due to material availability.
Stainless steel An alloy of carbon and iron with a high percentage of chromium, stainless steel is highly resistant to tarnish and extremely durable. Plated stainless steel is becoming more common, although be aware that the plating itself can still tarnish or flake off with improper care, wear, and storage. Depending on the purity, stainless steel may or may not be hypoallergenic, but it is extremely affordable in comparison to metals like gold or platinum. Stick to 304 or 316 stainless steel for a higher quality choice. Stainless steel is also the preferred affordable option for water safe jewelry, although you should always take care to either remove jewelry before entering water, or clean and dry jewelry if you do choose to wear it in water.
Soul Society Jewelry accepts requests for stainless steel jewelry pieces.
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