Best Metal For Jewelry Guide | GLDN
Whether you’re just starting your jewelry collection or adding to it, learning about the best metals for jewelry—and 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!
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—one of our favorite jewelry metals ever. 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.
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 (and one of the most durable metals, too)! 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.
Sterling silver favorites:
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.
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—creating one of the most unique metals in jewelry making. 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!
Rose gold-filled favorites:
What Is Gold Vermeil — Is It Good Quality?
Vermeil is composed of a thick layer of gold plating over solid sterling silver—one of the most popular types of jewelry metals out there. 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
Heavy Gold-plated Silver
What Is Gold-plated Silver?
This jewelry metal is an extra thick layer of gold over a sterling silver base. 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
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.
10k solid gold favorites:
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 also bridges the gap between warm- and cool-toned metals if neutrals are more your thing!
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—and jewelry that doesn’t tarnish! 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.
14k palladium white gold favorite:
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
What Is 14k Solid Gold?
Our favorite if you’re ready to invest in your jewelry—and the best jewelry metal for everyday wear—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.
14k solid gold favorites:
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.
So, how do I choose the right metal for me?
There are tons of factors to consider—from durability to budget to maintenance. Think about the following prompts to determine which metal is best for you (and make a pro-con list, if you wish!).
How much are you looking to spend on your next jewelry piece?
Prices for precious metals—like solid gold and sterling silver—fluctuate daily. On the whole, though, the cost of a jewelry metal depends on how precious it is, affecting its availability and price.
Generally speaking, 14k solid gold is more expensive than 10k solid gold, which is more expensive than gold fill, which is more expensive than gold vermeil and gold plating. If you’re on a tight budget, we recommend gold fill jewelry—it looks almost identical to solid gold but it’s waaaay more affordable!
If your budget is a bit more lax, we always recommend going for the solid gold—it’ll never tarnish or fade, and it’s made to last lifetimes.
Do you prefer dainty, delicate jewelry or bold statement pieces?
For dainty pieces, we recommend choosing either solid gold or sterling silver. These precious metals are more durable than gold-filled or gold plated jewelry—an especially important thing to consider when buying delicate jewelry!Gold plated and gold-filled options, though, are a great choice for seasonal styles, trendy pieces and special occasion jewelry since they costs less and don’t need to be as durable as a daintier piece.
Are you allergic to certain metals, or have any skin sensitivities you know of?
If you’re allergic to certain metals, it’s important to choose a hypoallergenic metal (such as sterling silver or solid gold). Gold-filled, gold vermeil and gold-plated pieces may be safe for sensitive skin, too, but it depends on what base metal is used. To find out, contact the shop or jeweler you’re purchasing from, or read reviews from other customers to see if these metals affected anyone with sensitive skin.
Do you prefer low-maintenance jewelry, or are you fine with pieces that require more upkeep?
Different metals require different levels of maintenance to keep them looking their best. Certain jewelry metals—like sterling silver, gold-filled and gold vermeil jewelry—can tarnish over time, and aren’t made to be worn 24/7. We always recommend removing these pieces before showers, workouts and applying beauty products, and storing them in airtight containers to avoid oxidation.
Solid gold, on the other hand, is relatively low maintenance and can easily be cleaned with mild soap and water. So, if you’re wondering what jewelry does not tarnish, solid gold is your answer! Consider how much time and effort you're willing to put into maintaining your jewelry when choosing the right metal material.
Are you buying jewelry for everyday wear or special occasions?
For everyday wear, we recommend solid gold—it’s the perfect investment for pieces that can withstand daily use! This is especially true if you’re looking for timeless jewelry that can be passed down through generations.
For occasional wear, gold-filled and gold vermeil jewelry is a great option. It’s more affordable than solid gold, and it’ll hold up just fine if you avoid showering or sweating in it, and ensure it’s stored in an airtight container to avoid tarnishing.
Do you live an active lifestyle? How often do you plan to wear your jewelry?
For those who are always on the go—or want jewelry to wear 24/7—we recommend solid gold, as it’s durable and tarnish-proof enough to withstand daily wear! Other metals, like gold-fill and gold vermeil, may be more prone to dents, scratches and tarnish (causing the outer layer of gold to rub off).
Do you prefer jewelry pieces that feel weightless, or do you mind a piece with a little more heft?
Typically, due to their cost, solid gold pieces tend to be lighter and daintier than, say, a bold sterling silver piece or chunky gold vermeil piece! Just pay attention to the weight of the jewelry piece before you purchase—we’ve found that sometimes we’re less inclined to wear heavier jewelry pieces (because comfort is key).
How do I know which metal I am buying?
Sometimes gold-filled and solid gold pieces look alike—same with silver and white gold! Here’s how to tell what kind of metal your jewelry is made of.
All gold, platinum and silver jewelry sold in the U.S. is required by law to be stamped with a quality mark, or hallmark, that shows the percentage of the metal used in the jewelry piece.
If you’re buying your jewelry item from a reputable jewelry dealer, it is fairly easy to check what metal is in the jewelry item. Or, if you purchased your pieces online or secondhand, a jeweler will be able to test the metal for you!
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:
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)
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?
- 14k Solid Gold Jewelry
- 10k Solid Gold Jewelry
- 14k Gold Filled Jewelry
- Sterling Silver Jewelry
- Vermeil Jewelry
- Rose Gold Fill Jewelry
Cover image shows Bennett Necklace.