As Good as Gold

The difference between the most popular precious metals in jewellery

There are many things to consider when buying jewellery. You must consider the look and style you like, the level of durability you need and of course, how much money you are willing to spend.

We have broken down the difference between the most popular precious metals used in jewellery so you can discover what is right for you!

Sterling Silver

Silver is a beautiful white metal used in jewellery and is the brightest reflector of any popular precious metal. It is a by-product formed during the mining of other metals, including gold, lead, copper, and zinc.

Silver can be polished to an unmatched shine and has been valued as a precious metal since ancient times. At one point in time it was considered more precious than gold!

Its popularity has always remained high, and its softness makes it malleable for making jewellery.

Silver used in jewellery is usually alloyed with copper to make sterling silver which is much more durable. Sterling silver is 92.5% pure silver and is always stamped with 925.

Silver tends to be the most affordable of the precious metals which makes sterling silver jewellery perfect for dress jewellery and will often be someone’s first piece of precious jewellery!

Yellow Gold

Yellow gold’s rarity and beauty throughout history made it a universal symbol of wealth.

24 carat gold is pure gold and is rich yellow in colour but is far too soft and malleable to be used in jewellery. Hence, gold is mixed or alloyed with other metals to give it strength and durability.

Alloying gold creates different carats. The higher the carat, the higher the gold content. For example, 18ct gold contains 75% pure gold and 9ct gold contains 37.5% pure gold and will be stamped 750 or 375 accordingly.

Although 9ct gold is stronger and has a lower price point, 18ct is the more desirable choice due to the higher gold content!

Different carats of yellow gold will also have slightly varying colours. 18 ct. yellow gold will contain less copper and silver than 9ct. gold and therefore will have a richer yellow colour.

Gold also resists corrosion and oxidation, which means it will not rust, tarnish or corrode, making it the perfect choice for fine jewellery, especially wedding rings that get worn every day!

White Gold

In the 1920s, white gold was created by mixing fine yellow gold with other precious white metals like Platinum, Palladium and Silver. White gold’s popularity has rapidly grown over the years and is seen as a less expensive alternative to Platinum.

There are two main types of white gold; white gold with nickel or white gold with palladium.  If it is blended with nickel it becomes very hard and sturdy, making it perfect for rings that encounter a lot of contact throughout the day.

If white gold is made with palladium it is more flexible and can be worked into intricate designs. It is also a much whiter metal than its nickel counterpart.

However, the natural colour of white gold is actually quite dull and therefore all white gold jewellery is Rhodium Plated which gives the metal an attractive shine.  

All white gold jewellery 9ct or 18ct should be re-rhodium plated at least every 12 to 14 months to keep it looking its best!  

Rose Gold

Rose Gold became fashionable during the 19th century in Europe and is still is a well-liked choice for jewellery today!

Yellow gold is mixed with silver and a higher amount of copper to create rose gold’s warm, pink colour. Most people agree it is most attractive in 9 carat and it is often referred to as a ‘romantic’ metal.

Rose gold is also frequently made in 18 carat which is comprised of 25% copper and 75% gold.


Platinum is the rarest, and most valuable of all the precious metals as only a small amount is produced.

One of the strongest metals used in jewellery, platinum will endure a lifetime making it ideal for an heirloom piece to be handed down generations. It is also a naturally white metal which beautifully accentuates the brilliance of diamonds.

Platinum jewellery contains more fine metal than most other jewellery, being at least 95% pure platinum. Platinum is normally stamped with 950.

A small amount of copper, palladium, rhodium, iridium or titanium are added to platinum to make it a more workable metal.

Its rich purity makes platinum hypoallergenic which is great for sensitive skin, and its natural white colour will not tarnish making it much lower maintenance than white gold.

However, because platinum is far rarer and purer than white gold, it is the more expensive option of the two.

If this was worth its weight in gold, then pop your email address below to get notifications and browse our latest jewellery auctions with your new knowledge!

Matt Kalinski

Head Of Valuations

Qualifications & Affiliations

American Society of Appraisers Candidate Member

Certified Practicing Valuer AVAA


Matt has been in the valuations space for many years and has extensive experience in the space across an abundance of various industries. He now leads the valuations teams for Lloyds Auctions with a passion for encouraging his team to set and achieve high goals and produce great results for the company whilst growing the team’s skills starting with a great culture and team mindset.