Mixed up About Metal? A guide to metals in jewelry

Are you mixed up about what exactly you’re jewelry is made of when you see various metal terms? Here’s a small guide to help you get the value you are looking for

*Sterling Silver contains a minimum of 92.5% pure silver and usually 7.5%  copper. The silver is  mixed with other metals like copper  to make it harder and more durable.  Sterling silver does require careful storage and occasional cleaning to prevent tarnish.
*Argentium Silver is a sterling silver allow in which some of the copper is replaced with germanium, while still maintaining the 92.5% rate of silver.  It has a higher tarnish resistance.
*Silver plate is when a base metal like nickel or copper has a layer of silver bonded or plated over it. It can be a less expensive alternative to traditional sterling.  The thickness of the plate determines how likely it is for the coating to not wear off.

Sterling Silver Earrings

*24 kt is solid gold, but it is extremely soft and not useful for jewelry. 18K which is 75% gold, 14K which is 58% gold, and 9K which is 37% gold are more commonly used.
*Gold Vermeil consists of sterling silver that has been gold plated.
*Gold-Filled is usually made of a brass or copper base metal covered with sheets of gold bonded to the base metal. The gold content is typically 1/20 or 5% of the total weight. With reasonable care, it’s relatively long lasting.
*Gold Plated has a thin layer of gold over various types of base metal. The gold may wear away if not properly cared for.

Be careful with gold as since it is a softer metal, it can scratch more easily, and is more likely to be harmed with heavy cleaning.


Platinum is actually rarer than gold and very durable, it won’t rust and most people find it very hypoallergenic.

Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, normally containing 2/3 copper and 1/3 zinc.

Brass Ring


Bronze is another alloy.  It’s mainly copper, though it often has tin added.  It’s a hard metal often confused with brass.

A strong metal, that contains a steel alloy. It usually has chromium to prevent corrosion. Surgical stainless steel is typically considered to be hypoallergenic.