Metals: Good, Bad and The Ugly

Before you make a purchase these are the important things that you need to know!

If you are buying a new piece of jewellery or investing in raw materials, here is a buyers’ guide run down, so that you can make a more considered decision.


Platinum (78Pt)

The king of metals! Naturally white in colour so there is no re-plating considerations. It is dense, so very strong and heavy. It is expensive BUT it will always hold its value so you could view it as a good investment.


Palladium (46Pd)

Not that many people seem to know about palladium. It has long been used in the jewellery industry, but has mainly been used to help create white gold by mixing yellow gold and palladium together rather than as a metal in its own right. However, it is part of the platinum family and therefore has the same characteristics: white, hard but not as dense.
Its biggest plus is its price. As platinum has soared, palladium has generally been up to half the price of platinum.
Here at Iain Henderson designs, we use 950 Palladium (95% pure palladium) as this gives it its hardness. Palladium 500 has been introduced to the market (50% palladium and 50% silver) but we would not use it. Silver is a much softer metal therefore your jewellery will wear more quickly and you can’t use it with platinum or 18ct white gold as it is too soft, but with 950 you can mix it with platinum and 18ct white gold. If a ring you are looking at in a shop appears extremely low cost, make sure you ask if it is 950 or 500 palladium!
We think that Palladium is a good investment metal as it hasn’t hit its peak in the metal market yet, buying now whilst it is still relatively inexpensive could prove worthwhile.


24ct Gold (79Au)

24ct gold is pure gold anything less means that the gold has been mixed. It is expensive and in recent years the price of gold has soared. Occasionally, we do get asked to use it in women’s rings, often it might be a piece of inherited jewellery that a customer wants us to remodelled/reuse as part of a new ring. One thing to be aware of is that pure gold is a very soft metal and in reality it is too soft to wear and almost wears away in front of your eyes.


18ct Yellow Gold (79Au)

A gold that is 18 parts yellow gold mixed with 6 parts other metals. A traditional gold that has been slightly out of favour in recent times however, we are starting to see its popularity rise once again, particularly in Europe.

Top Tip: Perhaps consider mixing matt and polished gold for a contemporary take, we think that this looks really stylish!


18ct White Gold (79Au)

This is the metal that we get asked about the most, generally because people have not been given the correct information in the past! There is no such thing as white gold! Gold is naturally yellow, and 18 ct gold is a mix of gold and mainly palladium. It therefore naturally has a pale yellow colour. To make it ‘white’, it is rhodium plated. This does wear off over time and depending on the wearer, type of job they do, lifestyle etc this could be as early as two months and to keep it looking white, it will have to be re-plated time and time again.
Perhaps consider looking at it in its natural form (not rhodium plating it) – it is quite a nice colour and very unique. It lends itself better to gents’ jewellery rather than ladies.


9ct Gold (79Au)

We are the only country that use 9ct gold – everyone else starts at 14ct. 9ct gold is essentially is less pure and with its lower ct grading becomes a much softer metal and therefore wears more easily.


Rose Gold (79Au)

This is a mix of gold and a copper alloy and is rather fashionable at the moment. It works really well in inlays for jewellery and offers a warmer look against skin tone. If you’re wanting something a bit different, this is the metal to go for. Here at IHD we are a big fan of rose gold.


Titanium (22Ti)

Not a precious metal but it is the strongest metal of the bunch and incredibly light. We use it a lot in jewellery for sportspeople and people with manual jobs. This metal is used a lot in Formula 1 because of its strength and lightness. It is a white metal and when polished it is of a similar appearance to palladium, although when it is matted it has a slightly darker grey shade. There are lots of design options with this metal and prices are very favourable because it is not a precious metal.


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Zirconium (40Zr)

Very similar to titanium in its make up but offers an added design option – heat it up and it turns black. Can make for a very stylish mens’ ring in particular.


Silver (47Ag)

The softest metal of the bunch and not one that we would recommend for a wedding ring, but perhaps more for a dress or occasional ring. We use it in our Union collection of men’s rings whereby we put it between other metals to protect it more. Because it is soft, it does mark more easily and will lose its highly polished finish more quickly because of it.


Stainless Steel

Another metal that we use within our Union Collection. It’s really hardwearing, is of white appearance and we use 316 grade which is the top end – you are more likely to see it on the operating table!


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Iain Henderson Designs
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01274 551 224

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