Precious Metals

Understanding precious metals can ensure your selection is one you'll love as much in the years to come as when you first saw it.

Precious Metals

Understanding precious metals can ensure your selection is one you'll love as much in the years to come as when you first saw it.

Precious Metals

Understanding precious metals can ensure your selection is one you'll love as much in the years to come as when you first saw it.



By far the most popular precious metal, gold is as versatile as it is beautiful. Used in virtually every type of fine jewelry, its remarkable gleam and warmth accentuate the details of fine design.

As a setting, gold showcases the intensity, boldness and beauty of diamonds, pearls and other gemstones set within. Although naturally occurring as yellow gold, it can also be mixed with different alloys to create white, rose, green and blue gold as well.


24K gold – The purity of the gold is measured in karats, which is expressed in 24ths. That makes 99.9% fine or pure gold 24 karat (24K). Pure gold is not only the most yellow, it is also very soft. Therefore, 24K gold is not recommended for daily wear.

18K gold – To strengthen it, alloys or other metals are added to 24K gold. The amount and type of alloy determines the color of the gold and its strength. It is 18 parts pure gold and 6 parts other metals, making it 75% pure. As a result, it is slightly less yellow in color than 24K gold.

14K gold – You’ll also find 14K gold used in jewelry. It is 14 parts pure gold and 10 parts other metals, making it a little more than half pure, 58.3%. This affects its color and its strength proportionately. 14K is considered the most wearable.

10K gold – 10K gold is only 10 parts pure gold, which is the lowest legal limit in the U.S.

Foreign Measure – It’s interesting to note that fine gold is not actually 100% pure. It is actually 99.9% pure. You’ll find the foreign stamp designates gold by the percentage of purity. So, 24K gold carries the stamp 999, 18K gold is stamped 750 and 14K is 585.


White – White gold is created from yellow gold alloyed with white
metal. All white gold is Rhodum plated to create a bright white
finish. Rhodium is a shiny, white metal that is extremely hard.
However, it may wear off over time, requiring the jewelry to be
re-plated, which is a simple process that can be easily performed at

Rose – By adding a larger proportion of copper to a metal alloy, and
then combining with pure gold, rose gold is created. The warm, pink
color of rose gold offers the desired strength and hue that’s
especially desirable in multi-tone gold jewelry.

Yellow – Yellow gold is known to be the most popular color choice of
gold, as it is found naturally and in its purest state.


Regardless of the purity of your fine gold jewelry, its care is key to lasting beauty and enjoyment. Prevent abrasions and dulling by keeping your gold jewelry away from chlorine, cleaning fluid and other household cleaners. Store your gold pieces in soft cloth bags or in their original boxes.

Routinely clean your gold jewelry with a detergent-free soap and warm water, using a soft-bristled brush. Consider professional cleaning by Borsheims three to four times a year to check settings and clasps, as well.



While there are various types of silver – distinguished by their purity – the most commonly used for fine jewelry is sterling silver.


Sterling Silver – Created by combining silver and copper, sterling
silver offers the lasting durability necessary for routine wear,
without compromising its aesthetic qualities.

Pure Silver – 99.9% pure – is sometimes used in handcrafted
jewelry that features intricate designs.

Other Silvers – Britannia, which is 95.84% pure and too soft for
jewelry, as well as Mexican silver, which is 95% pure.

Coin Silver – 90% pure and is the lowest legal limit for “fine silver”
and must be labeled as "coin" silver.

Quality Marks

To distinguish sterling silver from others, the following marks are used:

Sterling Silver

Treatments & Care

While silver is prone to tarnishing, you can reduce this effect by wearing your jewelry often. When not being worn, it’s best to keep your silver pieces in a soft cloth, in a covered box. To retain its lasting gleam, use a specially designated silver cleaner also available at Borsheims.



One of the most durable of the precious metals used in jewelry, platinum is also prized for its cool white sheen. An ideal setting for any diamond or other gemstone, its appeal is just as great among men as it is women.

Part of the reason may be its ability to retain its aesthetic qualities – even with daily wear. With this wear can also come scratches and even some dulling of the finish – which some wearers prefer.


Most platinum used in jewelry is 90% pure platinum, with 10% iridium or palladium. It is distinguished by the mark – Plat.

Treatments & Care

Like most precious metals, routine cleaning will help to maintain its unique appearance. Platinum jewelry should be soaked in a mild solution of soap and warm water. Gentle scrubbing with a soft-bristled brush is also recommended.

To maintain its luster, buff your platinum jewelry with a soft cloth. You can also renew its shine by asking Borsheims to professionally polish your platinum pieces to restore their original reflective finish. Borsheims can perform a routine inspection to ensure any gemstones or clasps are also secure.

Contemporary Metals


Offering genuine space age appeal, titanium is increasingly popular – due in a large part to its ability to provide unmatched strength and durability, with an equally incredible lightweight feel.


While titanium can be found in various grades, primarily designed for use in industry and engineering, Borsheims uses only 100% pure titanium in its fine jewelry.

You’ll most commonly find titanium used in rings and fine timepieces. Because of its incredible strength, titanium jewelry is forged from a solid block of metal and, in the case of rings, cannot be resized.


Although virtually indestructible, titanium can be scratched. Polishing with a soft cloth can retain its beautiful finish.

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel is a heavy and strong metal that possesses a matte look and satin finish. It is a fashionable look at an affordable price.

Tungsten Carbide

Tungsten Carbide is the hardest metal used in jewelry making. It is such a strong metal that it is scratch resistant and will remain permanently polished.


Palladium is a rare metal that is 95% pure, so it is hypoallergenic. It is a silver-white metal that will not tarnish and will remain white. It is a durable metal that can be passed down for generations.