Introduction To Precious Metals

Whatever the occasion or event, there is nothing more precious than a gift of jewellery to express to that special someone exactly how you feel.

With so many precious metals to choose from, the following metal buyer's guide will explore the different beneficial properties of each metal, helping you to make the best choice.

You will also discover useful aftercare guidance on how to care for different precious metals with confidence, so that your jewellery stays looking as beautiful as when you first bought it.

Platinum Wedding Rings available at Ernest Jones


Platinum is a versatile and durable precious metal with a naturally white colour. Its dense quality makes it the perfect accompaniment to any gemstone, including diamonds. Because of its strength, platinum is a particularly popular choice for a variety of jewellery including engagement ringswedding ringsnecklacesearrings and rings. Because of its 95 per cent purity, platinum does not oxidise in the air at any temperature which means its colour remains consistent and does not tarnish. As with all precious metals, platinum jewellery will carry a hallmark declaring its quality and authenticity.

View our full range of platinum jewellery

Shop the full range of gold jewellery at Ernest Jones


Gold has been an important precious metal since as early as 560BC and has been used throughout history as jewellery for religious ceremonies such as weddings, to declare status or purely for decoration. It is a popular and versatile choice because it is both ductile and malleable, meaning it can easily be crafted into different shapes. Most gold jewellery is mixed with other alloy metals such as silver, copper, nickel and zinc to strengthen its durability.

Gold is measured in carats and divided into 24 parts. Pure gold (Au) is measured as 24ct gold. 18 ct gold is 18/24 parts by mass or 75 per cent gold making it ideal for everyday use. It is also the preferred choice for ladies' engagement rings. 9ct gold is 9/24 parts gold by mass or 37.5 per cent gold and this enables it to be more affordable gold choice.

9ct and 18ct gold jewellery particularly in yellow, white and rose gold are the most popular gold choices. As with all precious metals, gold jewellery will carry a hallmark declaring its quality and authenticity.

Yellow Gold 9ct, 14ct, 18ct

This is gold's most traditional hue and provides a versatile base for a variety of jewellery designs and array of gemstones. Gold is always a naturally beautiful yellow colour. However, because of the different carats available there are subtle colour variations. 9ct, 14ct and 18ct are still yellow but the final colour can be influenced by varying the mixture of other metals being added. Yellow gold is the ideal precious metal for traditional engagement rings, wedding rings, necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings.

View Our Full Range of Yellow Gold Jewellery

White Gold 9ct, 14ct, 18ct

White Gold has been fashionable since the early 1920s and has since become one of the most sought after gold colours used in the UK. To create white gold, yellow gold is mixed with copper, zinc, nickel or palladium, giving it a bright clean look, which is often favoured for use in bracelets, necklaces, rings and pendants. If you're thinking of buying vintage inspired jewellery, white gold is perhaps the perfect metal to complement sparkling gemstones, especially diamonds.

View Our Full Range Of White Gold Jewellery

Rhodium Plated Gold

The contemporary version of white gold is often enhanced by rhodium plating. Rhodium is a metal from the platinum group that is naturally silver and beautifully bright. Almost all white gold is electro plated with rhodium to hide any staining or browning from the alloying process and to ensure white gold always has a shiny white, polished finish.

Over time, rhodium plating can wear away or scratch if it is repeatedly in contact with other hard items, this varies with the type of jewellery. Earrings for example, are unlikely to come into contact with anything which will wear the plating, but engagement or wedding rings may show signs of wear. If you find your rhodium plating has worn away slightly, bring it into any Ernest Jones store, where we can arrange for it to be re-plated.

Rose Gold 9ct, 14ct, 18ct

With the help of rising fashion trends in watches and jewellery, rose gold is fast becoming a popular precious metal for watches, earrings, rings, necklaces and bracelets. Because of its warm pink shades, this alternative to white or yellow gold is becoming a contemporary metal of choice for engagement rings. It is created by combining yellow gold with a copper alloy and has the same properties as yellow gold.

View Our Full Range of Rose Gold Jewellery

Two-Colour Gold

Gold comes in three main colours, yellow, white and rose. You are likely to come across jewellery at Ernest Jones that may feature two of these colours which will be referred to as two-colour gold. Ideal for earrings, bracelets, necklaces, pendants and rings, two-colour gold can be used to symbolise the love between two people and so it is perfect for wedding jewellery and rings. It is also a good option for eternity and anniversary rings.

View Our Full Range of Two Colour Gold Jewellery

Three-Colour Gold

Three-colour gold jewellery is the combination of yellow, white and rose gold in one piece of jewellery. This combination of three colours offers eye catching design possibilities and allows you to accessorise with confidence. A jewellery classic that uses three-colour gold is the Russian wedding ring. In its simplest form it combines yellow, rose and white gold to symbolise your past, present and future together.

Sterling Silver

Sterling silver is a fresh and contemporary precious metal found in mines around Australia, Canada, Mexico, Bolivia and Peru. Mixed with other metals to increase its strength, it is perfect for making bigger statement jewellery and has been used throughout history for necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings and brooches. Sterling silver goes perfectly with diamonds and other precious gemstones. As with all precious metals,sterling silver jewellery will carry a hallmark declaring its quality and authenticity.  View Our Full Range Of Sterling Silver Jewellery


Cobalt is naturally a white alloy which is often used for men's rings as it is durable and fairly scratch resistant. It is also fairly resistant to corrosion and wear. 

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is made up of 11% chromium mixed with steel to prevent the metal rusting, tarnishing or corroding. It has strong and durable qualities which make it perfect for someone with an active lifestyle. Widely used by designers for its versatility stainless steel is a shiny, radiant affordable metal. It is used for all kinds of jewellery such as earringswatches, bracelets View Our Full Range Of Stainless Steel Jewellery


Titanium is most commonly used in men's watches and jewellery including wedding rings because of its durability. This contemporary metal with a polished finish comes in colours of black, grey and silver. Found in countries like China, Norway, South Africa and New Zealand it is one of the strongest metals making it suitable for everyday use. Titanium is also hypoallergenic and doesn't include alloys.  View Our Full Range Of Titanium Jewellery


This unassuming metal is four times harder than titanium and has a brilliant shine to it which makes it ideal for men's wedding rings and other types of jewellery. Tungsten is a unique metal found in the regions of China, Brazil, Peru, Thailand and Portugal.  View Our Full Range Of Tungsten Jewellery


Palladium is fast becoming popular for engagement rings due to its white finish. As part of the platinum family of precious metals, it can be used as an alloy when making white gold. Palladium has a great purity and strength which prevents it from expanding when exposed to heat. It is lighter than platinum and does not tarnish; it is a metal that will look great for years to come. As with all precious metals, palladium jewellery will carry a hallmark declaring its quality and authenticity.  View Our Full Range Of Palladium Jewellery


Some jewellery metals can be plated; sometimes that plating is a precious metal over another precious metal. The most commonly seen is silver, gold and rhodium plating. Any precious metal used for plating must still be of a legally recognised fineness. Although the finished item is covered with a precious metal, it cannot be hallmarked as it is only a covering.

Skin Allergies And Sensitive Skin

If you want to know which metals are the best options for those with sensitive skin or skin allergies speak to a member of staff in any Ernest Jones store who will be happy to advise you.