glossary: metal types

Most people have a preference, whether it’s gold or silver, but if you’re new to jewellery buying how do you know which metal to go for? Here’s our helpful guide to metal types to help you decide.

| 9ct Gold | Platinum | Rose Gold | Sterling Silver | Stainless Steel |
| Surgical Steel | Titanium | White Gold | Yellow Gold |

9ct Gold

Gold is considered a precious metal and is hugely popular in jewellery. You will often see it in its yellow form, the traditional colour, but it is also available in rose and white. It is the easiest metal type to look after, as it doesn’t tarnish, so you will have no problem in keeping your gold jewellery looking shiny and new. Most commonly used in jewellery is 9ct or 14ct, anything higher than 22ct is not suitable for jewellery due to the softness of the metal. Not too sure what ct means? Well here’s a little breakdown:

9ct Gold has 37.5% pure gold
14ct Gold has 58.5% pure gold
18ct Gold has 75% gold
22ct Gold has approximately 91.6% gold
24ct Gold is the pure form, and is very soft.

Yellow Gold

  • Yellow gold is seen to be a timeless colour for jewellery, having been used in jewellery for almost 6000 years, and that is why you will see it the most out of the three colour varieties.

Rose Gold

  • Rose gold is a recently popular gold variety, and is often seen as the more ‘youthful’ gold option. It is mixed with copper to get its gorgeous pink hue which works well with all skin tones.

White Gold

  • Becoming popular in the 1920’s, white gold is frequently used for wedding and engagement rings, as a cheaper alternative to platinum. To get its silver tone, gold is mixed with a white alloy, this is usually nickel, palladium or magnesium. Due to it’s neutral colour, it works well with all gemstone colours.

Looking after 9ct gold items

  • To clean your gold jewellery, we recommend using a soft toothbrush and some cleaning spray to get your gold looking brand new again. When you have finished polishing, make sure to rinse the item well with warm water, and ensure it is left to air dry properly. Once the item is dry, polish it with a polishing cloth.

Why choose 9ct gold:

  • durable/doesn’t rust or tarnish
  • low-maintenance/easy to look after and clean
  • wont lose it’s colouring over time


As a metal, platinum is very hard and does not tarnish easily, which makes it a great option for everyday jewellery. Since it is a hard and durable metal, you will often see it being used to set diamonds and other precious stones. It’s colour is similar to that of silver, but tends to have a much more expensive and beautiful sheen to it, which actually develops slowly over time. Its properties make it extremely popular for wedding jewellery such as wedding bands.

As platinum is a pure metal unlike gold and silver, it is naturally hypoallergenic which means that it is a great metal choice for people who have sensitive skin and are prone to reacting to other metals. The most traditional platinum used for jewellery will be marked with the 950 mark, which symbolises that it contains 95% platinum.

Looking after platinum items

  • Platinum may durable, but we recommend removing platinum jewellery, especially rings, when carrying out tasks whereby the jewellery could come into contact with a hard surface – this is to avoid deep marks in the items which could require professional polishing. To keep your platinum jewellery in it’s best condition, we would recommend regular polishing with a specialist spray and a soft cloth.

Why choose platinum:

  • durable and doesn’t tarnish
  • gets better and more shiny with age
  • can be passed down to future generations
  • hypoallergenic
  • naturally white, so won’t change colour

Sterling Silver

Sterling silver is a popular metal type in jewellery due to its more affordable price point in comparison to white gold. You may hear this referred to as .925 sterling silver, which just refers to the makeup of the silver – in the case of .925 sterling silver, it is made up of 92.5% pure silver and is then mixed with other alloys to make it harder and more durable. It is a timeless option due to its neutral colour, however does tarnish over time so we would recommend taking silver jewellery off when in the shower and when swimming just to prevent tarnishing. You can find out more about how to care for your sterling silver jewellery in our guide

We also offer gold dipped jewellery, also known as gold plated, which is jewellery made of an alternative metal, and then coated in a thin layer of gold. Watch out however, as regular gold-plated jewellery does not necessarily mean that the base metal is silver. Luckily for you, at jewellerybox all of our gold dipped items are sterling silver under the gold.

Looking after sterling silver & gold dipped items:

  • regular polishing with a gentle polish such as Silvo
  • removing when swimming, showering or exercising
  • do not let items come into contact with perfumes, sun cream, oils and other cosmetic products

Why choose Sterling Silver:

  • more affordable than gold
  • luminous in colour
  • durable

Some silver and gold items will have a hallmark, you can read more about hallmarking here.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a very common metal type for jewellery due to its resistance to rust, oxidation and discoloration. When getting a new piercing, it is likely that they will provide you with a stainless steel piece of jewellery as it is generally considered hypoallergenic and allows piercings to heal faster, as well as being a lightweight option.

Looking after stainless steel

  • Stainless steel can get a little grubby over time, however it is easy to clean with a soft cloth and mild detergent.

Why choose stainless steel:

  • does not tarnish or oxidise
  • can withstand a lot of wear and tear
  • is generally hypoallergenic
  • affordable

Surgical Steel

Surgical steel is a type of stainless steel with specific alloys to allow for it to be used for jewellery, and is most commonly used with body jewellery. It is seen as a good option for those who have metal allergies, although it should be recognised that this metal type contains nickel.


Titanium is seen as a durable metal and therefore makes a great choice for jewellery that is to be worn everyday. Although in general being a hard metal is a positive thing, the hardness of titanium does limits the styles and formations that the metal can hold. It is commonly used to hold diamonds and gemstones however.
Popular with men, the colour of titanium is similar to that of white gold and platinum, but unlike these options, titanium is not nearly as expensive due to its abundance as one of the top 10 most commonly found metals in the earths crust!
Fun fact: titanium is also said to have health benefits, and is associated with soothing pain.

Looking after titanium

  • Titanium is unlikely to tarnish however it is easy enough to clean if it does get a little dirty. To clean titanium jewellery, wash it in a very mild soapy solution and rinse well with cold water. Ensure that you dry it with a soft cloth also. You can get any heavy scratches professionally polished out, however smaller ones are easy enough to remove yourself with a polishing cloth.

Why choose titanium:

  • easily available
  • is said to relieve pain
  • lightweight
  • durable

Hopefully our glossary has helped you understand a little more about the different metal types available and which is best suited to you.