Elevating Your Jewelry Game: What is Sterling Silver & Gold Karat?

Elevating Your Jewelry Game: What is Sterling Silver & Gold Karat?

Precious metals like gold and silver have long been valued for their alluring shine and timeless beauty. When shopping for jewelry made with precious metals, it helps to understand terms like “sterling silver” and “gold karat” to find the right pieces for you.

Sterling silver is 92.5% pure silver mixed with metals such as nickel and copper – the ideal balance between softness and durability. This makes sterling silver a perfect precious metal base for jewelry, which is exactly what our pieces use! Once the pieces are crafted in sterling silver, we apply gold over it in a process called “electroplating.”

Gold-plated sterling silver gives you the stunning glow of gold over a sterling silver base. Our pieces feature an 18k gold (or rhodium) layer providing a rich golden color without the cost of solid gold jewelry.

Compared to non-precious metals like stainless steel or brass, precious metals like sterling silver and 18k gold offer:

  • More brilliance and shine
  • Resistance to tarnishing
  • Hypoallergenic properties
  • Higher purity content
  • Timeless, classic style
  • Value retention

Gold-plated sterling silver jewelry combines the best of both metals, giving you beautiful gold atop a sterling silver foundation. You get durable, hypoallergenic precious metals plus affordability.

On the other hand, “Gold karat” refers to the purity of gold in an alloy. Pure 24 karat gold is usually extremely soft so many jewelers will use 18k, 14k, 10k, etc. This means that a certain percentage of gold has been mixed with durable metals like copper, palladium, and silver:

  • 24k = 100% Gold
  • 18k = 75% Gold
  • 14k = 58.3% Gold
  • 10k = 41.7% Gold

And as we mentioned earlier, we typically use 18k gold to plate our sterling silver jewelry. This beautifully combines the warm riches of gold with the shine and value of silver. While ideal for capturing a luxurious gold look affordably, gold-plated sterling silver does come with a few considerations:

  • Plating can wear over time - But with proper care, the plating can last for years of regular wear. Taking the jewelry off for cleaning, sleep and exercise helps prevent early wear. Getting it re-plated periodically restores its gilded glow.
  • Not as durable as solid gold - However, sterling silver is still more durable than many affordable jewelry metals like brass. The gold plating adds protection and hides scratches better than plain silver.
  • Higher maintenance than some cheaper metals - Sterling silver does require more care to prevent tarnish, including periodic gentle polishing. But this brings satisfaction to those who enjoy caring for their treasures.
  • Prone to chemical damage - Exposure to chlorine, salt water, perfumes and soaps can degrade the plating. But avoiding contact with damaging chemicals keeps the jewelry looking its best.

While no metal is perfect, gold-plated sterling silver provides stunning precious metal beauty with the right care. Taking steps to avoid damage, remove during high-impact activities, and replate as needed will keep your gold-plated pieces dazzling for many years. The added effort is worthwhile to enjoy affordable gold sparkle that can actually be worth something down the road!

We hope that this information has been helpful in better understanding the pieces we offer. We believe transparency is the best policy and are here to share everything we’ve learned in the 35+ years in the jewelry industry with you.

Stay tuned for future blog posts!

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