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Learning Center - Weigels Jewelry

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When shopping for that special diamond, colored gem or any fine jewelry, we hope the following information will help you make that purchase with greater confidence! Knowledge is important when selecting an expensive jewelry item but in the final analysis, the trust you have in the jeweler or jewelry source is what will give you the peace of mind knowing you've received the quality you desire!

Diamonds
When buying a diamond, it is vitally important to know about the 4 C's. They are cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. Together, the 4 C's determine a diamond's value. It is essential to learn about each of the 4 C's before purchasing a diamond because each C speaks differently to each individual. For some, the carat weight is the most important while for others it is the cut.

CUT
To many, cut is the most important of the 4 C's. Each diamond is cut using an exact mathematical formula that unleashes its brilliance and fire. It also refers to the number of facets that the diamond has. The most common cut is the round brilliant. The round brilliant has 58 flat, polished facets that reflect the maximum amount of light. The mathematical formula also takes into account the depth of the cut. If a diamond is cut too shallow or too deep it will lose some of its fire. A well-cut diamond will reflect the light and refract it back out to your eye. Cut is not to be confused with shape.

COLOR
While diamonds come in every color of the spectrum, the most valuable diamond color is colorless. Truly colorless diamonds are extremely rare and as a result are expensive. They are graded on a color scale established by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Diamonds range from D (colorless) to Z. The further down in the alphabet the diamond is, the more yellow it appears. Color can best be determined by looking at a loose diamond on a pure white surface, and by noting any contrast.

CARAT
Some people believe that carat refers to the size of a diamond while in actuality; carat is the term used to measure a diamond's weight. A carat is equal to 200 milligrams, and there are 142 carats to an ounce. One carat is made up of one hundred points. The larger the diamond, the greater its rarity. Because larger diamonds are more rare, they generally have a greater value per carat.


CLARITY
Internal imperfections and external irregularities affect the clarity of the diamond by interfering with the passage of light throughout the stone. Imperfections such as spots, lines, or bubbles are known as inclusions. The diamond is more valuable when it has fewer inclusions. According to the GIA's quality analysis system, clarity is graded on a scale ranging from flawless (FL or IF) to imperfect (I). The system is based on the visibility of inclusions at a magnification of 10x.



While these are the 4 most recognized C's, a fifth and less recognized, yet equally important C does exist. That is Confidence. Confidence in your jeweler is extremely important when buying this piece of jewelry that will last forever, and be passed down among generations. It is important to shop at a professional jeweler, one that is a member of a professional trade association such as Jewelers of America (JA). JA requires high ethical standards of its members and provides them with ongoing education.

Images courtesy of GIA


Beauty. Rarity. Durability.
These attributes attract us to colored gemstones for personal adornment and make gemstones valuable and precious. Colored gemstones provide the opportunity for uniquely personal expression.

Beauty
Most colored gemstones derive their beauty from their color - purples, blues, greens, yellows, oranges, reds. In certain colored gemstones color occurs naturally. Satisfying hues are intrinsic in some garnets, for example. In other colored gemstones, the final color occurs with assistance. For nearly as long as people have worn rubies, we have known how to treat a rough ruby with heat to obtain a desirable red color. Not all rubies are heat treated, but the vast majority are.

Gem cutters work to achieve a pleasing and affordable mix of color, weight (measured in carats), and a safe shape for mounting. During creation, a gemstone's size is constrained by nature. For example, while large and beautiful amethysts are readily available, an alexandrite of large size is extremely rare.

Sparkle adds to the beauty of a well-cut colored gemstone. The cut of a colored gemstone describes its shape and how it is fashioned. Some gemstones, such as opal, are suited to a smooth, rounded surface. Others, such as sapphire, are more frequently shaped with a precise series of flat, symmetrical planes, called facets, which make the most pleasing illumination of the gem's color. Some cutters today may also use convex or concave facets, shaping colored gemstone like small sculptures.

The clarity of colored gemstones contributes to their beauty. Unless a gemstone is opaque and blocks all light, how light moves through the gemstone affects its beauty. Some gemstones have few internal inclusions to interrupt the passage of light, as is the case with most pieces of tanzanite. Others have characteristic inclusions. For example, some emerald has a "jardine" (garden), which makes each gem truly unique.

Rarity
Across time and cultures, people have adorned themselves with rare gem materials. From pearls and corals plucked from the seas, to bright colored pebbles found in the soils settling at the mouths of rivers; from the collection of gemstones mounted in the breastplate of Aaron as accounted in ancient scripture, to the historic gemstones mounted in the crown jewels of European monarchs, we let ourselves be known through the gemstones we choose to wear. These gemstones are precious because they are rare.

Because of their rarity, gemstones in which color is naturally occurring are generally more valuable. Many gemstones are treated or enhanced in some way, such as with heat or safe irradiation, to achieve the beautiful colors or clarity we desire in the sizes we desire. These gems, which are less rare, can also be very valuable. Some jewelers make synthetic colored gemstones available. Synthetic colored gemstones have all the optical, physical and chemical properties of naturally occurring gemstones, but they are created in a laboratory rather than occurring in nature. For some budgets, these synthetic materials are an acceptable choice.

Durability
A gemstone's ability to be fashioned, mounted and worn is a function of how durable it is - a matter of both hardness and toughness. Some gemstones, such as sapphire, ruby and garnet, are well-suited to an active daily life and work well in rings, bracelets or cufflinks. Others, such as emeralds, pearls and opals call for earring or necklace mountings to keep them beautifully displayed but out of harm's way.

Buying Colored Gemstone Jewelry
When buying colored gemstone jewelry, select what you consider beautiful. Because of the subtle differences in the tone and hue of the colored gemstone you are considering, look at several to find the one you prefer. Some jewelers offer loose colored gemstones and are able to help you create a personalized mounting. You may prefer to buy a finished jewelry item. Discuss how you see yourself wearing the piece so that your jeweler can help you select mountings consistent with your lifestyle. This will provide the best safeguard for your purchase.

You have the right to know what you are buying, whether yours is a natural gemstone, an enhanced or treated gemstone, or a synthetic gemstone. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has established guidelines for the jewelry industry stating that jewelers must disclose any treatment that is not permanent, that creates special care requirements, or that affects the gemstone's value. Likewise, if a material is synthetic, it must be disclosed. Jewelers of America (JA) advises its members to disclose all such information, in the belief that a well-informed jewelry purchaser is a satisfied purchaser.

To give you the information you need, many jewelers provide written notice at the time you buy a gemstone by way of a note or code explaining your purchase. This information is written or stamped on the invoice or on an information card enclosed with your purchase. Be sure that the meaning of any code is clear to you. It is important to obtain this information prior to leaving the store, because it affects your purchase price and will also affect future cleaning and repair as well as replacement of an insured loss.
BIRTHSTONES
January
Garnet
Garnet, the birthstone for January, signifies eternal friendship and trust and is the perfect gift for a friend. Garnet, derived from the word granatum, means seed, and is called so because of the gemstone's resemblance to a pomegranate seed. References to the gemstone dates back to 3100 B.C., when the Egyptians used garnets as inlays jewelry. Garnet is the name of a group of minerals that comes in a rainbow of colors, from the deep red of the pyrope garnet to the vibrant green of tsavorites. Today, the most important sources for garnet are Africa, Sri Lanka, and India.


February
Amethyst
Amethyst, the gemstone believed by ancient Greeks and Romans to ward off the intoxicating powers of Bacchus, also is said to keep the wearer clear-headed and quick-witted. Throughout history, the gemstone has been associated with many myths, legends, religions, and numerous cultures. English regalia were even decorated with amethysts during the Middle Ages to symbolize royalty. It has been associated with many myths, legends, religions, and numerous cultures. Amethyst is purple quartz, a beautiful blend of violet and red that can found in every corner of the earth. Historically, the finest amethyst were found in Russia and were featured in much royal European jewelry. Today, while Brazil is the primary source of this gemstone, fine material can be found elsewhere, especially in Zambia.


March Aquamarine
The two birthstones for March are aquamarine and bloodstone.

The name aquamarine is derived from the Latin word aqua, meaning water, and marina, meaning the sea. This gemstone was believed to protect sailors, as well as to guarantee a safe voyage. The serene color of aquamarine is said to cool the temper, allowing the wearer to remain calm and levelheaded. Its pale, cool color beautifully complements spring and summer wardrobes. Aquamarine is most often light in tone and ranges from greenish blue to blue-green; the color usually is more intense in larger stones. This gemstone is mined mainly in Brazil, but also is found in Nigeria, Madagascar, Zambia, Pakistan, and Mozambique.

The second birthstone for March is bloodstone, a dark-green jasper flecked with vivid red spots of iron oxide. This ancient stone was used by the Babylonians to make seals and amulets and was believed to have healing powers - especially for blood disorders. It is sometimes called the martyr's stone as legend tells that it was created when drops of Christ's blood stained some jasper at the foot of the cross. Generally found embedded in rocks or in riverbeds as pebbles, primary sources for this stone are India, Brazil, and Australia.


April
Diamond
As the April birthstone, diamonds are the ideal gift for a loved one. And now you have more choices than ever. Get creative and give the ultimate gift of beauty: a fancy-color diamond. Fancy-color diamonds are natural, rare and truly exotic gem of the earth. Diamonds in hues of yellow, red, pink, blue, and green range in intensity from faint to vivid and generally the more saturated the color, the higher the value. In fact, diamonds sparkling with intense color are rare and may be priced higher than a colorless diamond of equal size. Because fancy-color diamonds are very desirable, color is sometimes introduced in a laboratory. These are correctly called color-treated diamonds. When purchasing a fancy-color diamond, the shopper should ask if any enhancements or treatments were used to improve its color and/or clarity.


May
Emerald
As the birthstone for May, the emerald, a symbol of rebirth, is believed to grant the owner foresight, good fortune, and youth. Emerald, derived from the word smaragdus, meaning green in Greek, was mined in Egypt as early as 330 B.C. Today, most of the world's emeralds are mined in Colombia, Brazil, Afghanistan, and Zambia. The availability of high-quality emerald is limited; consequently, treatments to improve clarity are performed regularly.


June
Pearl and Alexandrite
June counts three gems as birthstones, pearl, Alexandrite, and moonstone.

Historically, pearls have been used as an adornment for centuries. They were one of the favorite gem materials of the Roman Empire; later in Tudor England, the 1500s were known as the pearl age. Pearls are unique as they are the only gems from living sea creatures and require no faceting or polishing to reveal their natural beauty. In the early 1900s, the first successful commercial culturing of round saltwater pearls began. Since the 1920s, cultured pearls have almost completely replaced natural pearls in the market.


Alexandrite
A relatively modern gem, Alexandrite, was first discovered in Russia in 1831 during the reign of its namesake, Czar Alexander II, and is an extremely rare chrysoberyl with chameleon-like qualities. Its color is a lovely green in both daylight and fluorescent light; it changes color to a purplish red in incandescent light. Due to its rarity, some jewelers stock synthetic versions of this enchanting gemstone. (Synthetic gemstones are man-made alternatives to the natural material, possessing the same physical, optical, and chemical properties as the natural gemstone.)

Moonstone
The third birthstone for June is the Moonstone. It was given its name by the Roman natural historian Pliny, who wrote that moonstone's appearance altered with the phases of the moon - a belief that held until well after the sixteenth century. A phenomenal gemstone, moonstones show a floating play of light (called adularescence) and sometimes show either a multirayed star or a cat's eye. Considered a sacred stone in India, moonstones often are displayed on a background of yellow (a sacred color) and are believed to encapsulate within the stone a spirit whose purpose is to bring good fortune. Part of the family of minerals called feldspar, moonstone occurs in many igneous and metamorphic rocks and comes in a variety of colors such as green, blue, peach, and champagne. The most prized moonstones are from Sri Lanka; India, Australia, the United States, Mayanmar, and Madagascar are also sources.

July
Ruby
There's no better way to demonstrate your love than by giving a ruby in celebration of a July birthday. Rubies arouse the senses, stir the imagination, and are said to guarantee health, wisdom, wealth and success in love. Ruby is a variety of the gems species corundum. It is harder than any natural gemstone except diamond, which means a ruby is durable enough for everyday wear. Fine-quality ruby is extremely rare, and the color of the gem is most important to its value. The most prized color is a medium or medium dark vivid red or slightly purplish red. If the gem is too light or has too much purple or orange, it will be called a fancy-color sapphire.


August
Peridot
Two birthstones are available for August birthdays: Peridot and Sardonyx.

Peridot is said to host magical powers and healing properties to protect against nightmares and to bring the wearer power, influence, and a wonderful year. As peridot is a gemstone that forms deep inside the Earth and brought to the surface by volcanoes, in Hawaii, peridot symbolizes the tears of Pele, the goddess of fire and volcanoes. Today, most of the peridot supply comes from Arizona; other sources are China, Myanmar, and Pakistan. This gemstone comes in several color variations ranging from yellowish green to brown, but most consumers are attracted to the bright lime greens and olive greens. Peridot, in smaller sizes, often is used in beaded necklaces and bracelets.


Sardonyx
Sardonyx is a form of onyx and is recognized by its layers of reddish brown and white banding. It was popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans who carried into battle talismans of sardonyx engraved with images of heroes such as Mars or Hercules, believing that this would bring courage and victory. Because of its attractive banding, sardonyx has long been used to fashion cameos (carved raised figures) and intaglios (the reverse of cameos). This gemstone is found throughout the world. The most attractive specimens are found in India, but material also is mined in Czechoslovakia, Brazil, Uruguay, Germany, and in the United States.

September
Sapphire
Sapphire, the September birthstone, has been popular since the Middle Ages and, according to folklore, will protect your loved ones from envy and harm. Medieval clergy wore sapphires to symbolize heaven, while commoners thought the gem attracted heavenly blessings. Blue sapphires range from very light to very dark greenish or violetish blue, as well as various shades of pure blue. The most prized colors are a medium to medium dark blue or slightly violetish blue. Sapphire is a variety of the gem species corundum and occurs in all colors of the rainbow. Pink, purple, green, orange, or yellow corundum are known by their color (pink sapphire, green sapphire). Ruby is the red variety of corundum.


October
Tourmaline and Opal
October is another month with two birthstone choices - Tourmaline and Opal.

Tourmaline has become a favorite gemstone among jewelry designer, and gem collectors the world over. Since it is available in a wide variety of colors, it is ideally suited to almost anyone's taste. Tourmaline also is known for displaying several colors in the same gemstone. These bi-color or tri-color gems are formed in many combinations; gemstones with clear color distinctions are highly prized. One multi-color variety is known as watermelon tourmaline, and features green, pink, and white colors bands; to resemble its namesake, the gemstone is cut into thin slices having a pink center, white ring, and green edge. Tourmaline is found in many localities including Brazil, Afghanistan, East Africa, and the USA.

The name opal derives from the Greek Opallos, meaning "to see a change (of color)." Opals range in color from milky white to black with flashes of yellow, orange, green, red, and blue. An opal's beauty is the product of contrast between its color play and its background. Opal is a formation of non-crystalline silica gel that seeped into crevices in the sedimentary strata. Through time and nature's heating and molding processes, the gel hardened into the form of opals. The opal is composed of particles closely packed in spherical arrangements. When packed together in a regular pattern, a three-dimensional array of spaces are created that give opal its radiance.


November
Topaz and Citrine
Two gems are appropriate for November birthdays - Topaz and Citrine.

Topaz is a gemstone available in a rich rainbow of colors. Prized for several thousand years in antiquity, all yellow gems in antiquity were called topaz. Often confused with citrine quartz (yellow) and smoky quartz (brown), quartz and topaz are separate and unrelated mineral species. The most prized color of topaz is called Imperial topaz after the Russian Czars of the 1800s and features a magnificent orange body color with pinkish undertones. Topaz also comes in yellow, pink, purple, orange, and the many popular blue tones.

Citrine, the other birthstone for November is known as the "healing quartz". This golden gemstone is said to support vitality and health while encouraging and guiding hope, energy and warmth within the wearer. Citrine can be found in a variety of shades ranging from pastel yellow to dark brownish orange. It is one of the most affordable of gemstones and plentiful in nature. Citrine is found most frequently in Brazil, Bolivia, and Spain.


December
Tanzanite, Zircon, and Turquoise
The three birthstones associated with December are Tanzanite, Zircon, and Turquoise.

Discovered in the late 1960s in Tanzania, and found exclusively in this tiny area of the world, tanzanite exhibits a rich violet-blue color for which the gemstone is treasured; often it is heat-treated to achieve this color. Colors range from blue to purple, and tanzanites that are medium dark in tone, vivid in saturation, and slightly violet blue command premium prices. As tanzanite can be less expensive than sapphire, it often was purchased as an alternative. However, it has increased in popularity and now is valued more for its own beauty and brilliance than as a sapphire substitute.

Derived from the Arabic words zar and gun, meaning gold and color, zircon is found in a wide range of colors such as: blue, yellow, orange, brown, green, colorless, and red (the most prized color). For many years colorless zircon was used to imitate diamonds. Folk wisdom grants zircon the power to relieve pain, whet the appetite, protect travelers from disease and injury, to ensure a warm welcome, and to prevent nightmares guaranteeing a deep, tranquil sleep. Major sources of zircon are the Chanthaburi area of Thailand, the Palin area of Cambodia, and the southern part of Vietnam.

The name turquoise, from the French expression Pierre tourques or Turkish stone, originated in the thirteenth century and describes one of the oldest known gemstones. Turquoise varies in color from greenish blue, through robin's egg-blue, to sky blue shades and its transparency ranges from translucent to opaque. Turquoise is plentiful and is available in a wide range of sizes. It is most often used for beads, cabochons, carvings, and inlays. Although its popularity fluctuates in fashion, it is a perennial favorite in the American Southwest.


Know Your Karats


Look for the karat mark, which will tell you that the piece is real gold and the percentage of pure gold it contains. Pure gold, or 24K, has a deeply warm and rich color, but it is extremely soft and easily damaged. For this reason, pieces made from pure gold take on unique stamps of individuality with wear. Oftentimes, gold is alloyed with other metals, such as copper, silver, nickel and zinc to give it strength and durability. Different proportions of these alloys also give gold its rose, green, or white coloration. 18K gold is 75% gold; 14K is 58.5%; and 10K is 41.6%. The higher the karatage, the richer the color will be and the more costly. In the U.S. jewelry must be at least 10K to be legally sold as real gold. (In Canada and Mexico, the minimum legal standard of karatage is 9K and 8K respectively.) Imported gold jewelry may be stamped with different numbers. For example, the European marking for 14 karat gold jewelry is 585; for 18K it is 750. Note: Don't be confused with "carats," the weight and measure used for diamonds and other gems.

Look For The Trademark
On karat-marked jewelry sold in the U.S., always look for the manufacturer's trademark. By U.S. law it must be there. When there's a hallmark, it means the manufacturer stands behind the accuracy of the karat mark. You may also find the country of origin marked.

Evaluate The Price


In addition to karat weight, the price of gold jewelry is determined by several factors: total weight; design and construction; and ornamental detailing, such as engraving or Florentine finish. Although nearly all gold jewelry today is made with the help of special machines, some handwork is always involved. The more there is, the higher the price.

The good news is that through modern manufacturing technology, large, lightweight, and exciting pieces can be surprisingly affordable.

Check The Clasp
When buying a gold necklace or bracelet, make sure you examine the clasp to see if it is strong enough to support the chain, especially if the piece does not have a hallmark. Run your hand over the chain and look for any rough edges. A well-made piece of gold jewelry should look and feel like the quality piece it is. And if you take the time to look it over, you will have a piece that, with good care, can last a lifetime.

White metals' cool allure has captured imaginations for centuries. You may prefer one kind of white metal, or you may be surprised to discover a new favorite among the wide range of white metals used in jewelry today. Each has its distinct advantages and some have unique looks and applications for jewelry. Understanding the qualities of each different white jewelry metal can help ensure that the piece you select today will offer a lifetime of joy and satisfaction.

What Are The White Jewelry Metals?
Sterling Silver: From the ancient worlds of Byzantium and Egypt 4,000 years ago, to the New World mines of Mexico and Peru during the 17th and 18th centuries, the lure of silver has fascinated kings and conquerors. Today, silver has drawn some of our top jewelry designers to craft affordable, must-have items for the most stylish consumers.
Platinum: Pure, rare, eternal - these qualities set platinum apart. A favorite of famous jewelry designer Peter Carl Faberge and the metal of choice for "platinum blondes" in Hollywood's heyday, this precious metal has enjoyed yet another surge in popularity in recent years, particularly among discriminating bridal buyers.
White Gold: A World War II favorite, white gold meant patriotism for that era's marrying couples, when platinum was taken off the market for use in the war effort. Today, white gold offers precious affordability and fashionable fun, along with sturdy durability.
Palladium: Palladium is the "newest" white metal to make a splash among jewelry makers. A platinum group metal that's not actually new, palladium shares many of platinum's rich benefits at more affordable prices. Its strength makes it a favorite metal for elaborate, solid jewelry.
Titanium, Tungsten Carbide, Stainless Steel: These three industrial metals fascinate men and women alike - but the guys dominate. That's probably due to the metals' popularity in watches and their "technical" qualities. They are tough and can take a lot of wear and tear - another plus.

Sterling Silver
The Look
Sterling silver is a versatile metal and can have a high polish, matte, brushed, satin, sandblasted, oxidized (chemically blackened), or antiqued finish.

Insider Details
Silver is a naturally soft metal and must be mixed with other metals to create an alloy; it is commonly mixed with copper. For jewelry to be labeled sterling silver, it must contain at least 92.5% pure silver. Genuine sterling silver jewelry will be marked with a 925, .925, 92.5 or "Ster."

Advantages & Disadvantages
Sterling silver's versatility and affordability create limitless options for fashionable jewelry. While sterling silver can tarnish or darken, you can return silver to its natural finish with proper care and cleaning. More tarnish-resistant sterling silver is offered at many jewelry stores these days.

Platinum
The Look
Platinum's luster complements the sparkle of diamonds and gems. Its finish can range from a bright polish to a soft matte texture.

Insider Details
Jewelry made with platinum will have markings of Platinum, Pt, or Plat, meaning that it contains at least 95% pure platinum. If marked "iridplat," it contains 90% platinum and 10% iridium, another platinum group metal. Platinum content is shown as 999 for 99.9% pure platinum, 950 for 95%, 900 for 90%, 850 for 85%, and so on.

Advantages & Disadvantages
Platinum's strength assures you that your most precious diamonds and gems will be protected and secured. Platinum's purity­­ makes it hypoallergenic and thus the perfect choice for those with sensitive skin. Platinum mp;rsquo;s durability makes it ideal for wearing every day, as it sustains very little metal loss over a lifetime of wear. Some wearers of brightly polished platinum don't like the "patina" platinum that naturally develops with time, but the shine can be restored with regular repolishing. Others may find platinum's heaviness doesn't suit certain styles, such as large earrings.

White Gold
The Look
White gold gets its color by mixing yellow gold with alloys like nickel, zinc, and palladium. Due to the variety of the alloys used, white gold colors will vary. Sometimes, white gold is covered with rhodium plating to create a bright, pure white finish.

Insider Details
White gold is available in karatages up to 21 karat; it is not possible to have 22k or 24k white gold. Eighteen-karat gold is 75% pure, 14k is 58.5% pure, and 10k (the lowest karatage legally sold as gold jewelry in the U.S.) is 41.7% pure.

Advantages & Disadvantages
White gold is a more affordable yet still durable and precious alternative to platinum. It doesn't tarnish like silver. But some rhodium-plated white gold can "yellow" over time and may need to be occasionally replated with rhodium. When gold is alloyed with nickel, it can be allergenic to a small percentage of wearers who have skin allergies. In response, many refiners and manufacturers are now offering white gold that doesn't contain nickel, and others are creating white gold alloys that are white enough to not need rhodium plating. Be sure to ask your jeweler about these newer alloys.

Palladium
The Look
Palladium has garnered much attention from jewelers since it offers the benefits of platinum - bright white color, purity, and strength ­- at a more affordable price. Jewelry designers are taking advantage of palladium's strong, light characteristics and creating new white-metal jewelry that is solid and big but affordable.

Insider Details
Palladium, like platinum, is a very pure metal. Look for 950 Palladium, which means that the metal used is 95% pure, and usually mixed with 5% ruthenium. Sometimes jewelers use a 90% palladium/10% iridium combination. Both ruthenium and iridium, like palladium, are among the group of metals related to platinum.

Advantages & Disadvantages
Palladium does not require plating to maintain its lustrous white color, and it is hypoallergenic. It will not tarnish. However, palladium is neither as rare nor as heavy as platinum.

Alternative Metals:
Titanium, Stainless Steel & Tungsten Carbide
Although not commonly used in fine jewelry, Titanium, Stainless Steel and Tungsten Carbide are gaining popularity in jewelry, especially with men, as complements to watches of the same metal. Used for their durability in active accessories, like golf clubs, the metals are well suited to active consumers who will wear the jewelry on a daily basis and do not want to worry about its care and condition.

The Look
The metals' steely, gray appearance especially appeals to men. Titanium also has a unique property that allows it to be transformed, using heat or chemicals, into bright colors like blue, purple, and black. The metals are often used in inlay designs, with contrasting metals and patterns in rings and bracelets. Jewelry made from these metals usually features contemporary designs in rings, bracelets, cufflinks, earrings, money clips, and necklaces.

Insider Details
Unlike the precious metals - platinum, gold, silver and palladium - these metals are not rare. Titanium is the ninth most common element found on earth; stainless steel was created in a laboratory. However, the metals are very pure. For example, commercially pure titanium is composed of >99.2% titanium plus elements such as oxygen, nitrogen, carbon. They have the dual benefits of being very strong, but also light weight. And they are durable. In fact, tungsten is considered the world's hardest metal substance; it ranks 8-9 on the Mohs hardness scale (diamonds are a 10). It is roughly ten times harder than gold and four times harder than titanium.

Advantages & Disadvantages
Titanium, stainless steel, and tungsten carbide offer affordable alternatives to precious white metal jewelry. They are non-corrosive and hypoallergenic. Jewelry made using these industrial metals is scratch resistant and will retain its polish longer than other metals. When used in chain or link bracelets, the metals are less likely to snap or break - making the need for repair infrequent. However, titanium and tungsten carbide's strength also limits their jewelry options. They cannot be used to make delicate designs. They are so tough that resizing rings is difficult for most bench jewelers - though many manufacturers do offer a resizing service to retailers who cannot resize the rings themselves.

Quality White Metal Purchases
When purchasing white metal jewelry, always look for quality construction. Pay special attention to fasteners or clasps, making sure catches work easily but are secure. Pin backs and earring posts should be strong and firmly attached to the piece with no visible marks. Lay chains flat to make sure the links don't kink or bend. If you're purchasing rhodium-plated items, inspect the piece to ensure that the plating completely covers it.

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