The materials that make up your jewellery are what will give it that unique quality and make it stand out. Most people think jewellery should revolve around diamonds, but this is not necessarily the case – although of course you’ll be aware that these are one of the most commonly used materials in the luxury segment.
These days, most jewellers are searching for something that’s both beautiful and interesting, and this meant the materials they are using are becoming much more varied. But what is valuable, what will last, and which materials are used for what?
Here is our definitive guide:
Metals and alloys
The most common metals used in jewellery are gold, white gold, platinum, palladium, titanium and silver. Most gold used today is an alloy which varies based on the country it was sold and the karat number. The purer the gold doesn’t necessarily mean better jewellery (pure gold tends to be too soft for daily wear) but you should aim to go for around 18karats.
Newer metals are being used all the time, with titanium and platinum becoming more and more popular. These metals are much stronger, and some people find they are less allergic to them. They also react better to different environments such as swimming pools and can be coloured – blue titanium is popular of late.
Things such as glass, wood and bone (such as ivory) have been used in the past, and are making something of a resurgence. Experimental jewellers have been using these natural items to give a more rustic feel and, when juxtaposing them with things such as diamonds they are even more striking.
Diamonds are the piece de resistance of a jeweller’s arsenal, and many actually plan each item around the stone rather than the other way around. Diamonds tend to be clear in colour, but can come in an array of colours such as pink, yellow, blue or green.
They are measured by weight in carat, which is how most people grade them. We say, however, also look for the shape, clarity, colour and cut. After all, there’s no point having a huge diamond which is covered in impurities. You’re looking for a clear and shiny diamond with as few inclusions as possible – and preferably none that are visible to the naked eye.
You can find beautiful jewellery with unconventional gemstones at the heart. Emerald, ruby and sapphire are common (and often feature on engagement rings) but materials such as jade, onyx and opal provide beautiful tones that shine in the light. These each have their own way of grading, but any worthwhile jewellery will use stones that have beautiful and distinctive qualities and suit the feel of the overall piece.
Essentially, we advise that you go for what works for you, and assess the quality of each material accordingly. The most striking pieces may be made of the most unconventional materials, so as long as they’re well-made your ring, necklace, bracelet or earring will be show stopping.