SaiLin Designs Jewelry Guides
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Deciphering Your Jewelry Metals

My introduction to the jewelry world began in much the same way as many other little girls—my mother’s jewelry box. Tucked away in a small porcelain box decorated with delicately painted blueberries on top, it was a collection that never ceased to fascinate. It didn’t matter how many times I sifted through its contents: a set of emerald and gold studs, a gold class ring, an organically carved jade pendant on a silver chain… And of course, the pièce de résistance—the golden band sitting on my mother’s left ring finger.

At the time, metal distinctions and gem quality were beyond the scope of my interest or understanding. As long as a piece could call that box home, I knew it was important to my mother, and could subsequently be called treasure.

My own jewelry collection started with costume jewelry. Amongst its contents you’d find: silver-plated chain necklaces with small charms dangling at the center à la Claire’s, little gold colored rings with a single pearl bead right from the supermarket’s 50 cent candy and toy dispenser, glass and plastic bead bracelets on string.  Such was the treasure that accumulated in my jewelry box. Each piece grew tarnished or oxidized, and some fell apart with wear. Nevertheless, all remained loved.

These days, I’ve reached a point where I no longer want to spend money on jewelry items with a limited life expectancy. I want jewelry that will truly endure a lifetime, and that with proper love and care, will hopefully last for generations to come. Thus, the “investment piece” search begins.

Perhaps you are on this hunt, as well? If so, I am sure you have encountered a whole slew of metal terminology that may seem a bit convoluted. What the hay does gold-filled mean? How does it differ from gold-plated? How does it compare to high karat gold, and is it worth spending money on? Here’s a chart that I’ve created to help decipher jewelry metals:

SaiLin Designs_Deciphering Your Jewelry Metals Guide

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