14K Gold Education
Because pure 24 karat gold is much too soft and malleable to be practical for use in jewelry, all of the gold in rings, necklaces, earrings, and other items you might buy has been mixed with other metals to strengthen it and give the gold a distinctive color. A mixture of different pure metals that results in a hybrid metal with the desirable properties of all its ingredients is called an alloy, and the term “karat” is the unit of measure referring to how much pure gold the alloy contains. This means that 14 kt gold is 14 parts gold and 10 parts other metals, or approximately 60% gold. To be legally sold as gold jewelry in the United States, the gold purity of a piece cannot be below 10 karats (10 parts gold to 14 parts other metals), and because the gold content of 10kt gold is so far outweighed by other materials, it is still considered a lower grade and no longer widely used by serious fine jewelers. Here at Mens Wedding Rings and Bands, we carry nothing below 14kt gold wedding rings. Most gold jewelry sold in the U.S. and Canada must be stamped with the purity in karats, as in “14k gold”, or at least the letter “K”, but older pieces may not be as uniformly marked and need to be appraised by a jeweler to determine their quality and value.
The different metals alloyed with gold to make this 14k gold that is more durable and less likely to bend or ding are also what give the different types of gold their color. Jewelry made with 14kt gold makes exceptionally good use of this longstanding method of custom coloring because 14k gold strikes such an auspicious balance between the premium quality pure gold and the other elements for very interesting results. The most popular and traditional color for 14 kt gold, and the shade of gold most people immediately associate with the word “gold” is yellow gold. Yellow 14kt gold contains copper to enhance the gold’s familiar buttery hue and silver to tone down red and orange highlights. To make white 14k gold, an alloy with nickel and silver is the most common but is being replaced more and more by alloys made with palladium. White 14k gold is also generally plated with rhodium to minimize wear. Rose gold is mixed with more copper and less silver for the pink and red tones seen in some of our 14k gold handcrafted bands. The key differences between rings of 14kt gold and 18kt gold are in cost and weight; a 14k gold ring is slightly lower in price than one of similar size and design in 18k, and the 14kt gold ring may be a bit heavier or lighter depending on the alloy metals, but is also less fragile.
18k Gold Education
Gold does not tarnish or corrode, and is the most malleable and artisan-friendly of all metals. Pure gold has a purity rating of 24 karats, and the stronger gold alloys made for jewelry out of necessity are measured against this standard. A piece of jewelry is classified as 18k gold when the amount of gold in the alloy equals 18 parts to 6 parts other metals, or 75% gold to 25% other. In the United States, 18kt gold jewelry contains the highest percentage of gold generally seen on the market and the highest sanctioned by the Federal Trade Commission; jewelry graded above 18kt gold is rare and much more fragile, though in Asia and the Mediterranean region 20 and 22kt pieces are made and sold. 18k gold is made in the three most popular colors—yellow, white, and rose—but may be lighter or display other slight differences in color compared to the 14k versions, due to a lower concentration of alloy metals that give all gold jewelry its color.
Because 18kt gold is softer than jewelry of fewer parts gold, care should be taken to preserve its appearance and structure. If you remove your 18k gold rings, be sure to store them in their own boxes lined with satin or velvet. Jewelry boxes and pouches are not a good idea because if your 18kt gold jewelry comes into contact with other pieces made from harder materials, especially diamonds, the gold can be scuffed or worn off. 18k gold should be removed before entering swimming pools, as chlorine is very corrosive and can chemically erode the soft metal, or before using household cleaners designed to remove stains, rust, lime, etc. Never boil gold to clean it as recommended on other sites. This is a myth and can destroy your jewelry. Do not use brushes and scouring pads or powder cleansers on 18k gold, because they are too harsh and will scratch it. Dishwashing liquid is fine, and is in fact a safe choice to gently wash your 18k gold to remove dirt and oil buildup. For a like-new look, you can also take your ring to a jeweler every 12 to 18 months for steam cleaning or ultrasonic cleaning, two safe and popular methods for cleaning 18kt gold. With the right care, your 18k gold wedding band can last a lifetime!
Palladium is the latest precious metal trend in jewelry, finally getting the glory it first earned in the 1940s when palladium wedding bands enjoyed a miniature boom due to the scarcity of other metals and ready-to-wear rings were not as common as they are today. Palladium first became a popular jeweler’s metal when it came into use as an alternative to nickel alloy binders in gold and white gold jewelry. Designers quickly realized that the properties which made palladium so ideal as an alloy binder—palladium is extremely sturdy and durable; it is hypoallergenic, which other binders like cobalt and some grades of nickel are not; it retains its shine forever and does not require regular cleaning or polishing; it has a natural color and durability similar to platinum and is one of the noble metals but more affordable; and it allows for tension setting in metals that are generally too malleable—were also highly desirable to jewelry in general, and these days palladium just as often stands alone as a high-quality, reasonably priced option for men in need of strong, low-maintenance rings. Palladium is slightly harder than platinum and the two are very chemically similar. The first deposits of palladium discovered were actually found bonded inside platinum ores. It gets its name from the Pallas asteroid, which was itself named after the Greek goddess Pallas Athena. Because palladium is so often used in alloys for white gold jewelry, it can also look very much like white gold and is priced about the same. Palladium wedding rings are also great for men who wear larger ring sizes, because it is so lightweight that it’s used in aircraft and space flight, so the added weight involved in making a bigger ring is negligible.
Palladium will not irritate skin because it resists corrosion and does not react with the body’s natural oils and acids, unlike cobalt and nickel which cause allergic reaction and skin discoloration in an estimated 10 percent of wearers. Cobalt also tends to leech oils upon contact and retain them permanently, which destroys the original patina of the jewelry. For these reasons, all of the jewelry for sale at Mens Wedding Rings and Bands is made with alloys that are 100% cobalt free. Palladium jewelry’s greatest appeal lies in its ability to fill the three seemingly incompatible niches of affordability, endurance, and luxury.
Titanium, sometimes called “the space age metal”, is particularly known for its tremendous strength (greater than that of steel) and was very difficult to find in jewelry as recently as 15 to 20 years ago. There are many reasons one might choose titanium wedding rings over more traditional metals like gold, silver, and platinum. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to other metals, you will be happy with our 99% pure titanium because it is the most biocompatible metal known to man. Titanium is so safe that in medicine it is even regularly used inside the body for surgical implants, plates, bone pins, and so forth. It is non-reactive to salt water, chlorine, detergents, alkaloids, and all body acids. Many customers find titanium exotic and like to have a more uncommon option, and for those who can’t choose, Mens Wedding Rings and Bands carries several gorgeous styles of titanium rings inlaid with gold. Titanium is even magnetic, one of the properties that led to its discovery as a singular element, and it’s used in the super-strong plating protecting the metal skin of Blackbird spy planes. The bright silvery gray that is the natural color of titanium rings can be anodized and treated to bring out other colors, or electroplated with dark carbide or enamel powders to make them matte black.
Sporty enough to wear every day and elegant enough to wear for special occasions, titanium transitions effortlessly between both casual and formal situations. Titanium appeals to outgoing, hands-on people who like the idea of their wedding ring and ultra fast bicycle or top-of-the-line golf clubs being made of the same metal. Just as the vehicles and machines in which titanium is used to modernize processes and maximize efficiency, titanium jewelry is streamlined and lightweight. Titanium is safe to wear for swimming in pools and natural bodies of water, and does not fade with prolonged exposure to sun like gold and other metals do. Its combination of strength and lightness give titanium incredible versatility for design—very small rings will not break or lose stones from their settings, and very large rings will not be too heavy or clunky for daily wear. If you want a ring that goes everywhere you do, our titanium rings are your best bet.