The Metals We Use

What is the difference between 9 carat and 18 carat gold?

The principal difference is the precious metal content. 9 carat gold contains 37.5% pure gold. 18 carat gold contains 75% pure gold.

The remainder is an alloy of various metals, which may include copper, zinc, silver, palladium or platinum, depending on its intended colour - ie yellow, rose or white.

9 carat is harder than 18 carat gold, it resists scratching well and was traditionally used for such items as watch cases

A 18 carat gold item will generally be more expensive than its equivalent in 9 carat gold as it contains double the amount of pure gold.

it is strong, beautiful, durable and does not tarnish, corrode or react with the skin.

24 carat gold is gold in its purest form and consists of 99.9% gold. It is naturally yellow and extremely valuable, but also soft and malleable, so not usually used to make fine jewellery.

Gold Vermeil

Gold vermeil, or just vermeil, is a term used to refer to jewellery or other items made of silver and coated with gold. The word “vermeil” comes from the French and is pronounced “ver-may.” Vermeil jewellery is made by first creating the base of the item in silver and then plating it with a layer of gold. This method is called electrolysis.

The essential difference between vermeil and gold-plated jewellery is that vermeil items have a base made of silver, whereas plated and filled pieces can be made with a variety of base metals such as bronze. For this reason, vermeil jewellery is generally more valuable than comparable gold-plated items.


Rhodium is a rare and precious element that can be 10 to 25 times more expensive than gold. Rhodium is a member of the platinum group of metals and is silver-hued, highly reflective and does not tarnish or corrode. It is harder than gold and is highly durable.

However, rhodium is a very brittle metal and is not easily shaped or formed. As a result, pure rhodium cannot be made into jewellery. On its own it can easily crack and break somewhat like glass. But when used to plate other jewellery, rhodium enhances the durability of the metal.

Rhodium is Applied using an electroplating process. For a piece of jewellery to be plated, it must first be thoroughly cleaned to remove all contaminants. If there is any dirt on the piece, the plating will not hold.

Distilled water, steam cleaning and electro cleaning are some ways that the item is cleaned before it is dipped into the rhodium solution. A positive electrical charge is then used to fuse the rhodium onto the base metal.

Rhodium plating wears off over time and will need to be re-plated. Typically, a ring would need to be re-plated once every 12 to 18 months, but this can vary depending on the wear and tear the piece sustains as well as the thickness of the plating and the colour of the base metal.

Can I rhodium plate a yellow gold piece?
Yes. Rhodium plating can be used on yellow gold to change its colour to white. However, bear in mind that as the plating starts to wear off, the yellow colour will start to bleed through. This will result in a piece of jewellery that looks discoloured or yellow-tinted. To avoid that, the piece may require re-plating more frequently.

Is rhodium plated jewellery safe to wear?
Yes, it is. Because rhodium plating is hypoallergenic, you won’t get skin reactions by wearing rhodium plated jewellery. This is because rhodium does not contain any allergens such as nickel. In fact if you have a piece of jewellery that is causing you skin reactions, rhodium plating the piece can eliminate this problem.

Will rhodium plating affect gemstones?
Some softer gemstones such as peridot, pearls, opals, topaz, turquoise, coral and treated or heavily included rubies and emeralds can be damaged during the process. These gemstones, and many others, are not able to cope with the sulphuric acids and heat in the electroplating solutions and their surfaces can be damaged, becoming spotty and studded.

Diamonds and hard gemstones like sapphires and rubies are hardy enough to withstand rhodium plating. They don’t have to be removed when plating the piece of jewellery and don’t get damaged by the process.


One of the world's rarest metals, palladium makes for a band that's high in quality and, relatively speaking, lower in price than other high-quality metals. With the increase in the price of gold and platinum, palladium is one of the best choices for those with a lower budget who don't want to sacrifice quality or beauty.

The metal is similar to platinum in that it's hypo-allergenic and keeps well over time.

it's strong and never tarnishes over the years. It doesn't require plating or other metals for protection - it will stay white without regular maintenance and care. While it's in the same group as platinum and looks very similar, it's much lighter than its sister metal.

It was officially recognised as a precious metal in 2010, and it's now a legal requirement that any palladium ring that weighs more than 1 gram is hallmarked. It's even been said that palladium is rarer than gold.


Platinum is a white metal and the most expensive and prestigious option for a ring. It is long wearing and already exceptionally white, so it does not need to be rhodium plated like white gold. Platinum is also used in rings at almost 100% purity. It is a dense metal, so a platinum ring will feel heavier on the hand than other options. Because of its higher cost, platinum is most often used in men's and women's wedding and engagement rings.

Whilst gold contains a combination of metals, platinum's purity makes it naturally hypoallergenic and non reactive, ideal for those with skin sensitivities. Denser than gold and twice as dense than silver, it can be quite heavy but this is a favourable quality, especially for men. Despite its durability, like most metals, it does tend to wear a little over time and will scratch if it comes into contact with stronger materials, such as diamonds or steel. Unlike gold, platinum doesn't chip away but instead the scratches are seen as indentations that can be easily re-polished and brought to a high white shine.

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