Pure gold is soft and malleable, it is usually alloyed with other metals like silver, copper and platinum to increase its strength. The color of gold depends on what metals it is alloyed with. White gold is mixed with silver and palladium, or occasionally platinum. Whereas, yellow gold is mixed with silver, copper and zinc. The purity or percentage of gold is expressed in karats (K or KT). Pure gold is 24K; 18K gold is 75% gold and 25% other metals. 14K gold is 58.3% gold and 41.7% other metals. As the karat weight drops the metal becomes more durable and less yellow in color. Gold has an elegant appearance, it is long lasting, resistant to rust and does not tarnish.
Gold-filled, also known as “Rolled Gold” is made of a solid layer of Gold that is bonded with heat and pressure to other alloys such as silver, brass or copper. Jewelry made from Gold filled will not peel, flake, or ware off because the solid gold bond is permanent. Gold filled is a quality material that is common in all types of jewelry and can be identified by the manufacturers stamp on each piece (1/20 12kt GF or 1/20 14kt GF). It is easily cared for, and is an economical way to enjoy the luster, beauty and durability of gold without the exorbitant expense. With proper care and maintenance gold filled jewelry is long lasting and can be treasured as an heirloom.
Fine silver or pure silver is 99.9 % pure, like gold silver is too soft for most uses and must be combined with other metals for durability and strength. Sterling silver contains 92.5% pure silver, and the remaining 7.5% is alloyed with other metals, usually copper. Its beauty and durability makes sterling silver a perfect metal for jewelry. It is identified by the manufacturers stamp (sterling, sterling silver or .925).
Gold vermeil is a process that uses electrolysis to layer gold over sterling silver. Vermeil is higher in quality than a gold- plated piece and is a less expensive alternative to solid gold jewelry. It can be polished for a glossy look or left to tarnish for a more vintage look.