Possibly the most visible element of most jewelry is the metal used. Different metals complement different skin tones and even the colors of your outfit. Beyond the outward color, different metals feature different compositions and durability. The three most popular precious metals are platinum, gold, and silver. These metals are used alone or alloyed with other metals to make jewelry and coins in addition to their industrial uses. 

Everything to Know About Popular Jewelry Metals

Platinum Jewelry

Platinum is the rarest of the precious metals commonly used in jewelry. Only about 150 tons are produced a year compared to 1500 tons of gold. It takes approximately 10 tons of mining ore to produce 1 ounce of platinum. Platinum has a relatively short history of use in jewelry due to the difficultness of working with it. Platinum is very heavy and durable, as well as hypoallergenic and tarnish resistant. Naturally white, platinum jewelry is 90-95% pure while platinum bullion is usually 99.9% pure. Platinum jewelry will have stamps indicating its purity. 

  • “950 plat or 950pt” is 95% pure platinum plus 5% other metals
  • “900 plat or 900pt” is 90% pure platinum plus 10% other metals


Gold Jewelry

Gold has the longest history of use in jewelry of all precious metals. Gold is very scarce and it takes approximately 3.2 tones of mining ore to produce 1 ounce of pure gold. Gold is a very strong metal but also very malleable so it is frequently alloyed with other metals to increase its strength, durability, and color. The most common colors of gold used in jewelry are yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold. The fineness of gold is measured in karats which denotes how many parts pure gold out of 24 parts. Pure gold is 24 karat and is rarely used in jewelry as it is too soft. The most commonly available gold bullion coins are 22 or 24 karat gold. All jewelry sold in the United States must be a minimum of 10 karat gold and stamped somewhere on the jewelry. Below is a breakdown of gold karat content and purity:

  • 10 karat – 41.7% pure gold
  • 14 karat – 58.5% pure gold
  • 18 karat – 75.0% pure gold
  • 24 karat – 100%  pure gold


Silver Jewelry

Silver is the most widely used precious metal of the precious metals commonly used in jewelry. According to estimates, there are approximately 17 ounces of silver for every ounce of gold. In ancient Egypt, silver was considered more valuable then gold and the leading producing countries in the world today are Peru and Mexico.

Sterling Silver jewelry is the United States is made up of 92.5 % silver mixed with other metals and will be stamped “.925” or “sterling”. Most silver flatware is made of sterling silver although lower quality silver was also used in flatware.

More than 95% of annual silver consumption is from industrial and decorative uses: photography, jewelry, and silverware.


“I had shopped all around Sacramento looking for a unique bridal gift for my bride-to-be without much success.  I wanted to get her something classy and unique and not some “cookie-cutter” jewelry.  Thankfully, Gabrielle Ferrar in downtown Chico has a great selection of classy and unique jewelry.  The customer service was amazing and they helped me find the perfect piece of jewelry for my bride.  It’s great knowing that there is such a great jewelry store right here in Chico.  Thank you for helping make our wedding day even more special.”  — Kevin M. on Yelp


If you are ready to plan your perfect proposal, we invite you to click here to explore engagement rings online, or visit our Chico, California, showroom to find your perfect engagement ring for you.