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Best Metal For Jewelry Guide | Jewelry Metal Guide

Written by GLDN Team — March 23, 2022

Best Metal For Jewelry Guide | Jewelry Metal Guide

Whether you’re just starting your jewelry collection or adding to it, learning about the properties of the different metals we offer will help you design your next piece with confidence!

We want your jewelry to be as customized for you as possible, so along with made-to-order sizing for a custom fit, we offer our pieces in different metals. That way, you can choose from the best material options for each piece at a couple of price points.

This guide looks at all 8 of our jewelry metal options, but please note that not every metal is offered for every piece. (The ‘Material’ section on individual listings will show you what metals are available for products). We may be able to custom make other options so please reach out to our Customer Care Team for customization inquiries!

Gold Fill Pieces

14k Gold-filled

What Is 14k Gold-filled — Is Gold Fill Good Quality?
For those that love the look and feel of solid gold jewelry, but not the price tag, our 14k gold-filled option is an excellent, affordable alternative. Gold-filled pieces have a very thick layer of 14k gold, heat and pressure bonded to a high-quality jeweler’s brass core. The thick outer layer of gold makes it highly durable and safe for people with allergies or sensitive skin. With proper care and storage, gold-filled pieces can still offer decades of love and wear (without breaking the bank).

Want to learn more about 14k gold-fill? Check out our What is 14k Gold Fill? article where we answer all of your burning FAQs.

  • Why we love 14k gold fill:
    GF pieces make top quality and style accessible at an affordable price. Gold fill is hypoallergenic, wears well, and is a durable alternative to the pricier solid gold.
  • Closest alternative metal option:
    Vermeil: Vermeil is another high-quality alternative to solid gold. While we’ll always choose to offer our pieces in gold fill over vermeil, there are some designs where gold fill isn't an option. In that case, we’ll make the design using the vermeil process instead.

Sterling Silver Pieces

Sterling Silver

What Is Sterling Silver — Is It Good Quality?
It’s no secret that we love gold, but we don’t play favorites. Almost all of our designs can also be made in sterling silver. Sterling silver is 92.5% pure silver and considered a precious metal. The remaining 7.5% is usually copper, which adds extra strength and durability. Sterling silver is hypoallergenic, so you can wear it every day without risk of irritation. This metal is a classic, versatile option for jewelry makers and collectors alike.

  • Why we love .925 silver:
    It will last for a lifetime! Because sterling silver is a solid metal, you can polish and refinish it many, many times as natural wear occurs.
  • Closest alternative metal option:
    Fine Silver: This option is 99% pure silver, but we choose not to offer it as it is quite soft and we found it scratches much too easily.

Rose Gold-filled Pieces

14k Rose Gold Filled

What Is 14k Rose Gold-filled — Is It Good Quality?
No, you’re not wearing rose-colored glasses, our rose gold-filled pieces are a perfect blushy alternative to traditional yellow gold. Much like our standard yellow gold fill, you’re still getting that thick layer of 14-karat gold, copper is just added to give a gorgeous rosy hue! Don't fret though, both yellow gold-fill and rose gold-fill pieces still contain the same amount of 14-karat solid gold.

  • Why we love it:
    If we're being honest, we don’t always love it. While a romantic, rosy hue is a great way to add a bit of color to a stack, we don’t offer rose-gold fill in many of our styles because we find it doesn’t wear well as well as the yellow gold over time because of the added copper. However, the longevity of the metal depends a lot on the type of piece, so we offer this option when we’ve found it holds up well!

Vermeil Piece (Grande Band)

Gold Vermeil

What Is Gold Vermeil — Is It Good Quality?
Vermeil is composed of a thick layer of gold plating over solid sterling silver. It’s the thickness of the gold and the sterling silver base that differentiates this option from gold-plating. The choice of the karat level (ex: 14k or 16k) in the plating process determines the color of the gold (10k would be a light, more subtle yellow tone while 24k would be an intense, deep yellow). Our vermeil pieces are plated with 14k and 18k gold to get a perfect, soft yellow hue. They meet or exceed industry standards for durability.

  • Why we love it:
    A hefty layer of gold without the hefty 14k price makes vermeil a good alternative to solid gold. It can also be reassuring to know that should any wear occur to the gold layer, another hypoallergenic precious metal (sterling silver) is underneath. Pieces showing a lot of wear can also be re-gold plated to cover up the underlying silver.
  • Closest alternative metal option:
    14k Gold-filled

Gold-plated Silver Pieces

Heavy Gold-plated Silver

What Is Gold-plated Silver?
The thickness of gold indicated by the term 'gold-plated' can vary greatly among jewelers. Our pieces have at least a 1 micron thick 14k gold layer for durability (for reference, it’s common for gold-plated pieces to have 1/10th that thickness of gold).

  • Why we choose gold-plated silver:
    Our extra thick layer of gold-plating over sterling silver ensures that our pieces stay golden and hypoallergenic, while being more affordable than other metal options.
  • Closest alternative metal option:
    Vermeil: For designs we know will last without the extra thickness of gold vermeil, we go the heavy-gold plated route instead to offer you the best price. It doesn’t quite qualify as vermeil, but it’s close. Some styles, like rings, we believe need the extra thickness that vermeil offers, so we offer that material option instead of regular gold-plating.

10k Solid Gold

10k Solid Gold

What Is 10k Solid Gold?
In short, 10k solid gold is composed of about 42% gold and 58% other alloys (compared to 14k gold, which is just the opposite—about 58% gold and 42% other alloys). This makes it an incredible (and underrated) option for someone who wants the benefits of solid gold without the heavier price tag.

  • Why we love solid 10k gold:
    All the wear, less of the tear. This metal is more durable and affordable than 14k gold (due to less pure gold in the mix). Color-wise, think of it like a glass of champagne—a soft, subtle, butter-yellow shade that’s less warm-toned and vibrant than 14k gold. Not to mention it’s waterproof and tarnish-resistant, too.
  • Our pro tip:
    From a distance, solid 10k gold looks quite similar to 14k gold—making it a great durable choice for studs and other subtle, dainty pieces where you won’t miss that 14k shine. It’s also bridges the gap between warm- and cool-toned metals if neutrals are more your thing!

14k Palladium White Gold Pieces (Micro Signet)

14k Palladium White Gold

What Is 14k Palladium White Gold?
The newest GLDN metal offering, 14k palladium white gold, is the perfect precious metal for those who prefer a brilliant, silvery look without any maintenance. We chose the palladium version of white gold because it’s highly tarnish resistant, meaning this jewelry will never diminish in appearance.

  • Why we love 14k palladium white gold:
    If you prefer silvery tones but desire the quality and low maintenance that solid gold offers, this metal is the perfect investment.
  • Closest metal alternatives:
    14k White Gold: Standard white gold in its pure, un-plated form has a dull gray appearance with a yellow undertone so it gets plated with a layer of rhodium to add the recognizable sheen. However, this added coating does wear off over time and will begin to reveal hints of the metal underneath, possibly causing skin irritation and tarnishing. In contrast, 14k palladium white gold will maintain its beautiful silvery white tone forever.

    Sterling Silver: Silver has a similar gray tone, but is a lot cheaper. It also requires maintenance as it tarnishes and scratches more easily so will need more frequent polishing and upkeep.

14k Solid Gold Pieces

14k Solid Gold

What Is 14k Solid Gold?
Our favorite if you’re ready to invest in your jewelry - 14k solid gold is a low maintenance, fine jewelry favorite that will last forever. There are various “purities” of solid gold depending on the mixture of pure 24k gold with other alloys. (Alloys are added for strength because gold is very soft.) We use 14k solid gold over other karat options, like 8k or 16k, because we believe it offers the ideal balance of price, strength and quality!

  • Why we love solid 14k gold:
    Because solid gold is so durable and low maintenance, this metal is our favorite option for everyday designs to last a lifetime (or three). And it’s always our favorite option for essentials — it’s worth the extra investment to get your chains and staples in solid gold.
  • Our pro tip:
    This is the strat we all use in-house: invest in a solid gold chain, then add your tags in 14k gold fill. The chain gets by far the most wear. And when it comes to gold fill, things like tags will last decades or more, so there’s not much need to invest in solid gold unless you plan on passing it down to the next generations.

Taking Care of Your Jewelry

No matter the metal you choose, treating your jewelry with proper care will ensure that it will last you a long time and stay looking as nice as the day you bought it! We’ve compiled some of our best care tips for wear, storage, and cleaning below:

Avoid chemicals
Sunscreens, perfume and lotions can all lead to tarnish. Apply and wait for these to absorb fully before putting on your pieces.

Bathe in it
Go ahead and shower with your pieces! (just make sure your soaps are mild)

Clean water
Before you hop in the pool, be sure to remove your pieces prior to swimming, especially in hot tubs!

Store it safely
Clean and dry your piece well before storing it. If you’re somewhere with a lot of humidity use an airtight container to reduce oxidation (especially for silver pieces).

Periodic deep clean
Do a gentle soap or baking soda soak for a few minutes. Use a toothbrush to gently remove dirt in tight spaces. For gold-filled and solid gold: buff with your polish cloth. For plated and vermeil pieces: use a microfiber cloth to wipe clean

While there’s no right answer to “which metal is best for jewelry?”, we hope this overview gives you helpful insight into how to choose between jewelry material options.

GLDN offers a metal for every style and budget. But we still believe the material is only one part of a piece’s value. The meaning and story behind the piece are what makes it most precious.

So, how will you make it yours?

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Cover image shows Bennett Necklace.

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