Metals are as ancient as human civilization and its history can be traced back thousands of years, as early as 6,000 BC. It plays a crucial role in creating ornaments, jewelry, weapons and other accessories. Different metals affect the durability, appearance and cost of a particular product especially in jewelry making. With such impact, it is necessary that anyone who purchased and interested in jewelry should develop understanding of the metallurgy as it conveys to jewelry.
Generally speaking, there are different ways to classify metals used by jewelry makers. Below are the reviews of basic metals used in jewelry making and its classification that may be helpful to understand its differences:
- Base and noble metals – these terminologies applied to metals refer to the chemistry of the metal. Base metals tend to oxidize or corrode relatively faster and this type of metal is more economical to use than precious metal because it is commonly found, and examples include metal are copper, zinc, nickel and aluminum. Noble metals are rare and possess a high surface luster and resistant to oxidization. Most jewelry is made of noble metals such as gold, silver and platinum.
- Ferrous and non-ferrous metal – ferrous metal contains iron and all ferrous metal are magnetic and give little resistance to corrosion. It may also contain small amount of different metals or elements to give the required properties. Non-ferrous metal on the other hand doesn’t contain iron and they are not magnetic and generally they are more resistant to weathering. Examples of these metals are tin, copper, aluminum, zinc and lead.
- Precious and non-precious metal – the difference between the two metals are its rarity and value. Precious metals may include gold, silver and the platinum family and are particularly more appropriate for jewelry because they have higher luster, less reactive and easier to work with. Non-precious metal is less used in jewelry making but if the jewelry maker have the skills to use this types of metal, it can be a very good option since it is less expensive. Examples of these metals are aluminum, copper, nickel and brass.
There are different types of metal that jewelry makers use and this includes:
- Gold – pure gold is very soft and it must be combined with other elements to become harder. Gold is color yellow in its natural state. Gold will have new color if it is combined with other elements and it becomes harder. You may use copper, nickel, palladium and silver to create more astonishing colors.
- Platinum – it is strong and highly durable metal and it doesn’t change in color. Platinum is 30% rarer than gold and it doesn’t tarnish.
- Sterling silver – one of the most common metal used in jewelry making and it is harder than gold but it has the tendency to stain.
- Cobalt – harder than platinum but light in weight and resistant to corrosion.
- Titanium – stronger and harder than platinum and gold. Silver white metal and lighter than platinum and gold and it doesn’t tarnish.
- Tungsten – it is extremely hard and dense and it won’t bend easily.
- Palladium – naturally white metal and slightly heavier than gold but it doesn’t change its color.
- Silver -a metal occurs naturally in its pure, free form (native silver), is an alloy
Jewelry makers may use these different types of metal according to their preference and purpose.