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How to Pick Your Perfect Precious Metal

By Kim Parker 4 Minute Read

Gold, white gold, or platinum? Here’s how to choose the right jewellery to suit you


Whether you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime piece, a gift for a loved one, or a special treat, it’s often hard to know where to start with jewellery shopping. One of the biggest factors to consider, aside from which gemstone you’d like to adorn yourself with, is which precious metal will work best for you and your lifestyle. From palest platinum and white gold through to the warm, honeyed tones of yellow gold, precious or ‘noble’ metals each have their own unique properties – here, our experts weigh in on how to choose the one you’ll love forever.

First, get to know the basics

Gold is the most popular metal used for fine jewellery, including wedding and engagement rings, and it’s easy to see why – it’s not only precious, but also timeless and long-lasting.

Pure gold (24 karat) is a naturally vibrant, buttery yellow metal. It’s also softer than other metals and easy to scratch, so it’s often mixed with other metals to boost its resistance, or to change its hue to white or pink.

18k gold, for example, is a mix of 75% pure gold with 25% alloy metals and is a more resistant gold with a luxurious weight and sheen. “It’s a wonderful option if you’re looking for a special piece of jewellery, because it still has a high pure gold content and a lustrous look,” says Charlie Hough, Goldsmiths Jewellery Buyer. Lower karat golds, like 14k and 9k, still share gold’s famous shine, but are generally more affordable and even more hard-wearing, making them ideal for everyday jewellery.

Platinum is even rarer than gold. A naturally pale grey hue, it takes on a brilliant white colour and mirror-like shine once polished. It’s also extremely strong, so it can hold delicate structures and settings well, though it is heavier than gold, which may raise issues of comfort for bigger pieces, or jewels that will be worn all day long.

Next, consider the context

“Precious metals each have their own pros and cons, but the most important thing to ask is: who and what is the jewellery for,” advises Hough. “If the piece is for a special gift or unique occasion, it’s great to invest in 18k gold or platinum, whereas a 9k piece is excellent for wearing every day.”

It’s also good to consider skin tone. “Yellow, rose and white metals can look different on everyone – pick the one that seems to glow against your skin, rather than washing it out,” says Hough. Gemstones, too, can take on differing appearances, depending on the colour of their metal setting, so it’s worth trying before you buy.

Lastly, Hough recommends thinking about how the piece is going to be worn. “If you’re a very active person with a physical job, delicate chains or high claw-set diamond rings may not be the best choice,” he notes. Considering how the jewellery will fit into your lifestyle will definitely save time, and potential heartache, in the long run.

Trust your gut

Whichever precious metal takes your fancy, it’s reassuring to know there’s a place for both in the chicest jewellery boxes. According to Hough, white metals such as white gold and platinum are perennial bestsellers, whilst yellow gold “has made a brilliant revival in recent years.” What’s more, layering and mixing jewellery in all metals continues to be a trend. “There are no rules, it’s more about creating the look,” says Hough. “If you have a white metal engagement ring and wedding band, don’t worry about wearing them with yellow gold pieces now they are in fashion. Ultimately, jewellery is all about expressing your unique style, and if you do that, you’re going to love the jewellery you own.”

Explore our precious metal jewellery here at Goldsmiths online or visit us in store at one of our showrooms where our jewellery experts will be delighted to help you.

Author credit: Kim Parker is a London-based journalist and editor specialising in the luxury market, especially fine jewellery and watches. She contributes to leading titles such as Harper’s Bazaar, The Times, The Telegraph, The Week and Condé Nast Traveller.

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