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Gold Jewelry vs. Silver Jewelry

by Maegan Crandall

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Gold and silver rings covered in diamonds

You want to fill your jewelry box with treasure made of gleaming metals and sparkling gemstones -- but which metals will give you the look you want? Which jewelry is right for your budget? Gold jewelry and silver jewelry are both great choices, but they do have different properties and aesthetics. You can collect both gold and silver jewelry when you know a bit about both metal types. The right knowledge can help you buy jewelry with smart value and attractive style. Use these tips to select gold jewelry and sterling silver jewelry for your collection.

Comparing Gold and Silver Jewelry:

  1. Appearance: Gold jewelry is yellow and silver jewelry is grey, but there is more to the appearances of these pieces than the basic colors you have come to know. Both white gold and rose gold are very different from yellow gold. White gold is alloyed with nickel, manganese or palladium to give it a silver hue. Rose gold is alloyed with copper to make it pink. Sterling silver jewelry is usually silver, but oxidized silver can be dark grey.

  2. Cost: Gold jewelry is generally more expensive than sterling silver jewelry. This is mainly due to the rarity and durability of gold. Sterling silver can tarnish over time and may cause an allergic reaction in some wearers. These factors make gold jewelry more expensive than sterling silver jewelry in many cases.

  3. Durability: Gold is more durable than sterling silver. It is more scratch-resistant and it doesn't tarnish. Both gold and silver are durable, however, because they are both precious metals. Sterling silver is 92.5 percent pure silver and 7.5 percent metal alloy. This metal alloy makes sterling silver durable enough for daily wear.

  4. Care: Both sterling silver jewelry and gold jewelry should be cleaned regularly. Silver jewelry does tarnish over time, so it has to be polished occasionally. Silver cleaner and a soft cloth will remove tarnish easily. Gold jewelry can be cleaned with warm, soapy water or polished with a jewelry cloth.

  5. Markings: Check jewelry for markings to be certain of its metal type. Sterling silver will be marked with a "925" or the word "sterling." Gold jewelry should be marked with the karat, or purity, of the gold. Look for 18k gold, which is 75 percent pure, 14k gold, which is 58 percent pure or 10k gold, which is 42 percent pure.

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