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Jewellery buying guide: The types of metals & gemstones

Everybody loves to feel fabulous once in a while with a special piece of jewellery. But how do you know what jewellery suits you or a loved one best?

A perfect way to narrow down your options and find the right piece of jewellery for any occasion is to pick your favourite jewellery metal and gemstone. At Bevilles, you can even filter your jewellery according to these options.

Choose the right metal for your jewellery

Virtually every piece of jewellery, from necklaces and bracelets to earrings and rings, are made with metal. Whether it’s a chain necklace or stud earrings, this metal forms the basis of your jewellery piece and creates an important setting for any gemstones.

There are many possible metals to use in jewellery but some of the most common types are gold, silver, tungsten, and titanium.

Gold jewellery

Of course, we’re all tempted by the natural sparkle of gold jewellery. But there’s even more to gold than you might have first thought. This shiny metal is resistant to rust, tarnish, and corrosion. It’s also exceptionally strong while still being malleable.

Because of this malleability, 100% pure gold is too soft for jewellery making. That’s why gold is usually blended with other metals to make it stronger to wear.

Gold jewellery is measured in carats (ct), with pure gold measured as 24ct.

  • 24 carat (24ct) - 100% pure gold.
  • 18 carat (18ct) - 75% gold (or 18 parts gold and 6 parts other metals). Jewellery with 18-carat gold is scratch resistant.
  • 14 carat (14ct) - 58.5% gold. Jewellery with 14-carat gold is even more durable, while still solid gold in colour.
  • 9 carat (9ct) - 30-40% gold. Jewellery is often infused with silver and looks whiter, but is the most affordable option.

There are 3 common kinds of gold you’ll find in jewellery.

Yellow gold jewellery

The most common of golden hues, yellow gold reflects gold as it’s found naturally in the earth.

Shop yellow gold jewellery.

White gold jewellery

A complex blend of yellow gold and other metals, white gold is plated with rhodium, a silvery-white lustrous metal from the platinum family. White gold jewellery is less pure but more affordable.

Shop white gold jewellery.

Rose gold jewellery

Rose gold jewellery contains copper, which gives it a charming pink hue that sets it apart from other gold jewellery. The most durable of gold blends, it’s more resistant to wear and tear, scratches, and degradation.

Shop rose gold jewellery.

Silver jewellery

Outshone only by gold jewellery, silver jewellery makes for a stylish and sparkling accessory. Like gold, silver is soft and malleable, so it’s combined with stronger metals to create a more robust alloy.

Silver can oxidise or tarnish over time, so it’s important to polish or clean your silver pieces often.

Shop silver jewellery.

Sterling silver jewellery

The most common silver jewellery is made of sterling silver, an alloy of 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals, usually copper.

Sterling silver jewellery is strong and durable (it’s resistant to tarnish or degradation) while still inexpensive.

Stainless steel jewellery

Stainless steel jewellery doesn’t contain any silver but replicates the brilliance of natural silver. Stainless steel is a metal compound made up of iron, carbon, titanium, and around 10.5% chromium.

It’s a great low-maintenance jewellery option as it is resistant to scratches, corrosion, and everyday interactions with the elements.

Tungsten jewellery

One of the toughest metals around, tungsten is commonly used in rings and can be available in black, grey, and white.

Its colour scheme, strength, inflexibility, and durability (it’s almost scratch proof) make tungsten an especially popular element in men’s rings and other jewellery.

 Tungsten shares many characteristics with titanium, though each metal has its distinctive qualities.

Titanium

As strong and durable as tungsten, titanium is a good alternative to its cousin metal. But it’s also lighter, more flexible, and less scratch resistant. Titanium makes a popular metal band for men’s watches.

Choose the right gemstone in your jewellery

Gemstones add fabulous sparkle to your jewellery, bringing meaning, colour, and style to your precious pieces. And coloured gemstones are trending, making gemstone jewellery a great choice for loved ones.

The value of gemstone jewellery depends on a range of important characteristics, including the colour, clarity, cut, carat weight, and hardness of the gemstone.

The colour of your gemstone

Valuable gemstones tend to have saturated colour without being too dark or light. They may even have slight traces of other colours but the most valuable gems are pure in colour and rich in tone.

Most gemstones today are treated to enhance their colour. Aquamarine, citrine, amethyst, sapphire, ruby, and tanzanite gemstones are heat treated. Pearls are bleached and blue topaz is irradiated.

The clarity of your gemstone

Naturally, most people are looking for flawless gemstones but these come at a huge cost and are exceptionally rare.

Gemstone clarity refers to how visible internal or surface characteristics (inclusions and blemishes) are. Often, the best value comes from gemstones with light inclusions.

The cut of your gemstone

There is no ‘right’ way to cut a gemstone, as long as the cut accentuates the gem’s colour, conceals most inclusions, and shows off most of the gemstone when it is set in jewellery.

The carat weight of your gemstone

Gemstones are usually measured by their weight, using a metric carat (1/5th of a gram). When buying gems on their own, they’re often valued per carat. In very simple terms, the heavier the weight, the costlier the gem, though it’s not always that clearcut.

Mohs scale

If you own gemstone jewellery, it can help to know the hardness of your gemstone. Can it be scratched or damaged easily?

The Mohs Scale measures mineral hardness. For example, a diamond - the hardest mineral on Earth - rates 10.0 on the Mohs scale while pearl rates between just 2.5 and 3.0, which means it needs to be well protected in its jewellery setting.

The different types of gemstones

Gemstones are a fabulous embellishment in a jewellery piece. They can make a statement or serve as a subtle addition to your jewellery metal.

But with so many choices out there, how do you pick a gemstone? Naturally, a lot comes down to personal preference, but it is a good idea to study the different gemstone properties so your decision matches your requirements.

Another factor which may influence your decision is that some gemstones are associated with birthstones, which can provide a special, personalised jewellery piece.

Type of gemstone Colour Mohs scale Pricing Birthstone
Amethyst Purple 7.0  Affordable February
Aquamarine Pale blue 7.5-8.0 Affordable March
Citrine
Pale yellow to deep amber 7.0 Affordable November
Diamond Colourless, yellow, blue, pink, black, or green 10.0 High value April
Emerald Blue-green to yellow-green 7.5-8.0 High value May
Garnet Deep reddish-purple 6.5-7.5 Affordable January
Lapis lazuli Blue 5.0-6.0 Affordable N/A
Onyx Black or white 6.5-7.0 Affordable N/A
Opal Milky white, blue-green, or a range of colours 4.5-6.5 High value October
Pearl White, pink, black, yellow, grey, or brown 2.5-3.0 High value June
Peridot Yellow-green 6.5-7.0 High value August
Ruby Red 9.0 High value July
Sapphire Most commonly blue but also yellow, pink, orange & more 9.0 High value September
Turquoise Green or blue 5.0-6.0 Affordable N/A
Topaz Blue, brown, pink, green, or yellow 8.0 Affordable

November
December (blue topaz)

Tanzanite Bluish-purple 6.5 High value N/A

Amethyst jewellery

Amethyst is a type of quartz with a beautiful light or dark purple colour caused by iron within the crystal structure.

Rating 7.0 on the Mohs scale, it’s durable enough for everyday wear and (depending on the grade of the gem) can be fairly affordable.

Aquamarine jewellery

Gorgeously pale blue or greenish-blue in colour, aquamarine gemstones are related to emerald gems.

Aquamarine is relatively hard, with a rating of 7.5 to 8.0, making it a beautiful alternative gem on engagement rings that will endure plenty of wear.

Most aquamarine jewellery can be more affordable, especially if the gems are pale in colour. Brilliant, bright aquamarine can be more costly.

Citrine jewellery

Closely related to amethyst, citrine is renowned for its pale yellow to deep honey amber colour. Affordable and hard (with a Mohs rating of 7.0), citrine is a fabulous gemstone for everyday wear.

Diamond jewellery

The hardest naturally occurring substance on Earth with a Mohs rating of 10.0, diamonds stand out for their brilliance. Particularly popular set in engagement rings but by no means limited to these pieces, diamonds are perfect for any jewellery piece worn frequently.

Pure diamonds are colourless but natural processes can turn these stones into any colour from yellow and pink to blue, green, and even black. Diamonds jewellery is typically more costly.

Shop diamond jewellery today.

Emerald jewellery

Emerald has gained fame for its vivid green hue, ranging from blue-green to yellow-green.

While emeralds are harder than many other precious stones (with a rating of 7.5-8.0), they’re also quite brittle since they have lots of internal fissures. They are best left as special occasion pieces.

Garnet jewellery

An affordable gemstone option, garnet usually features a deep red-purple hue, although it is also available in pink, orange, green, and brown.

Lapis lazuli jewellery

Lapis lazuli has a famously soft texture that enables it to be carved or shaped, unlike most other gems. But of course, this softness also makes it important to have the gemstone in a protective jewellery setting.

Lapis lazuli is a classic blue and is, unusually, made of a combination of different materials, often including iron pyrite (fool’s gold) or calcite.

Onyx jewellery

Thanks to its rich, black colour (although it can also be white), onyx is often found on more masculine pieces of jewellery, as well as on Christian or religious jewellery.

Onyx is better for ornamental pieces that won’t see everyday wear, but onyx jewellery can be exceptionally affordable.

Opal jewellery

A delicate and mystifying gemstone, opal comes in a wide range of kaleidoscopic colours, from milky whites to vivid greens and blues.

Opal is prone to cracks and open splits within the stone and is also very soft (with a Mohs rating of 4.5 to 6.5), which makes it exceptionally fragile so opal gems need to be well-protected in their setting.

Shop opal jewellery.

Pearl jewellery

Not technically a gemstone, pearl is mined from oysters. That is also why it’s one of the most delicate gems around, with a Mohs hardness rating of just 2.5-3.0.

Pearls are available in a range of shapes, sizes, and colours, including pink, white, black, yellow, grey, and brown.

Shop pearl jewellery.

Peridot jewellery

Peridot has been used in jewellery for thousands of years and makes a fabulous and affordable jewellery embellishment. With a pale yellow-green hue, peridot is relatively soft and best left for occasional wear.

Ruby jewellery

With its evocative red colour, ruby is exceptionally beautiful. It is also one of the most durable gemstones, with a hardness rating of 9.0 on the Mohs scale.

Made from corundum, the same mineral as sapphires, ruby jewellery serves well as everyday jewellery or even as an engagement ring.

Shop ruby jewellery.

Sapphire jewellery

Sapphire is essentially every gemstone made from corundum that isn’t red. Sapphire gemstones are usually blue, although it is possible to find jewellery with pink, yellow, orange, and even white sapphire.

As with rubies, sapphire jewellery is tough and durable, making it perfect for daily wear.

Turquoise jewellery

A rather opaque gemstone, turquoise is a semi-precious stone with a tantalising green or blue hue. With a soft Mohs rating of just 5.0-6.0, turquoise gemstones are often treated with stabilising compounds to avoid breakage.

But they are an affordable jewellery embellishment that look fabulous when protected in their setting.

Topaz jewellery

Topaz can be available in a variety of gorgeous colours, including red, yellow, green, pink, orange, and, of course, the famous blue topaz.

With a hardness rating of 8.0, topaz is durable and can be worn daily. Its cost varies dramatically depending on the colour of the gemstone.

Tanzanite jewellery

With its fabulous purplish colour, tanzanite is a relatively recent addition to the gemstone scene. Discovered in 1967 and mined only in Tanzania, it is a rare gemstone known for its colour-changing properties.

It’s quite soft compared to other gemstones, so it is important to keep the gemstone in a protected jewellery setting.

Shop tanzanite jewellery.

Choosing the right personal jewellery

The right jewellery for you depends on a range of factors and personal preferences. If you are shopping for someone else, paying attention to the type of jewellery they wear - including the metal and gemstones - can help when you go to buy.

If you’re not sure which jewellery best suits you, match it to your skin tone. And why not pick a gemstone based on your birthstone?

Shop our jewellery collections online today and find beautiful jewellery that will help you feel fabulous!

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