Precious metal settings- gold and platinum

Off all the precious metals out there – gold and platinum are perhaps the most popular. But what’s the difference between the two? Is there jewelry that better suited for gold and other for platinum? Hopefully, after reading this article you’ll be a little bit wiser when the time comes to choose.

To understand better the differences, you really need to know a bit more about the different types of gold and how it’s used in jewelry.

Pure Gold

Pure gold is a very soft, malleable metal. It has an intense yellow color and doesn’t tarnish – even after thousands of years. Just to prove my point, recently a chest with over 2000 gold coins from the Roman period were found in the Mediterranean. They were minted over 2000 years ago but when brought out of the sea – looked as good as new.

But, because it’s so soft, pure gold is rarely used in jewelry, and especially in a setting that has to securely hold diamonds and other precious stones. It’s so soft that in just a short space of time, you’d be searching the hose for the diamond that used to in your ring.

That’s why jewelers mix gold with measured quantities of other metals, to give it the added strength and durability that your jewelry needs. In fact, the ratio of gold to other metals is the basis for the gold measurement standard – karat (not to be confused with carat which is the measurement of a diamonds weight). The higher the karat, the greater the purity with 24K gold being considered pure gold.

Gold of many colors

Interesting fact: Adding a different metal to pure gold can also alter it color.

Yellow gold is mixed with other metals such as zinc and copper. This makes it more durable, less expensive and tones down its color.

White gold is in fact, yellow gold that’s been mixed with a white metal such as palladium.

Interesting fact: to mask the very faint yellowish hue of white gold, it is often plated with Rhodium. This gives it a stunning finish but, the plating will wear off over time and need to be replaced. The good news is that the re-plating process will restore your jewelry to almost pristine condition which may well justify the cost (around $80 on average at time of writing). The bad news, if your ring is rhodium plated, the plating could wear off in as little as six months.

Rose gold: Mix copper with gold and sometimes small amounts of silver and you get rose or pink tinted gold. The final color depends on the ratio of gold to copper.

Karat – not the sort you eat

Gold purity is measured in Karats (as said, different from carat). The higher the percentage of gold, the greater the karat with 24 karat being the highest.

9k Gold is 37.5% pure and hallmarked 375. Because the actual percentage of gold is so low, many countries, including the U.S, don’t recognize it as being gold.

10k Gold is 41.7% pure and hallmarked 417. This is already classed as “gold” but isn’t commonly found in good jewelry.

14k Gold is 58.3% pure and hallmarked 583/584. This is the most widely used form of gold as it is durable and scratch resistant which makes it ideal for jewelry. It is excellent for use in jeweler.

18k Gold is 75.0% pure and hallmarked 750. It has a deeper shade of yellow than 14K gold and slightly more malleable. But for really prestigious jewelry, this is usually the karat of choice.

Interesting fact: In Italy, 18K is the minimum gold standard that can be sold as gold.


Platinum and white, Rhodium plated gold look very similar. But there are some significant differences.

Platinum is a dense, very strong and long lasting metal. Its scratch resistance and retains its color for a long time (it may develop a patina after a few years but most people think that this just makes the diamonds shine even more).

When used in jewelry, it is usually 90% to 95% pure and is more expensive than white gold. Its natural color is a matte white or grey – as I said, very similar to white gold. The big difference is that whereas the Rhodium plating of white gold will gradually wear away and need to be replaced, platinum lasts forever. For that reason alone, in the long run, platinum may work out cheaper than white gold.

The strength pf platinum means that the delicate parts of the setting (like the prongs that hold the diamond in place) will be less susceptible to bending and breakage. This give you added piece of mind knowing that there’s less chance of your expensive diamond falling out unnoticed.

Platinum, because of its density and purity, is a heavy metal in relation to the amount used in a jewelry setting. So using it for earrings, for example, isn’t recommended as it can place a strain on the earlobes and even cause discomfort. Having said that, many people like the ‘feel’ of platinum rings as the weight gives them ‘presence’.

Here at Couplez Diamonds we have a range of gold and platinum jewelry for you to choose from. Come in and browse – you’ll love what you see.

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