Used in manufacturing for many decades, the industrial metals are recent additions to the jewelry market. The popularity of stainless steel, titanium and tungsten carbide continues to grow as jewelers and consumers come to appreciate the strength, permanence and modern look of these metals. The jewelry industry labels these materials as ‘alternative metals’ to distinguish them from the more traditional jewelry metals.
Stainless steel reflects a brilliant shine when it has a polished finish, making steel jewelry very attractive. It resists tarnish and chipping while maintaining its appearance with minimal care. Stainless steel has a composition of iron combined with 10 percent chromium and 0.15 percent carbon.
Titanium is durable yet lightweight; it has about half the weight of steel. Jewelers polish it to a high luster and often add yellow gold accents to the finished items. Titanium is hypoallergenic if it isn’t alloyed with nickel, making the metal an excellent choice for body jewelry.
Tungsten carbide resists scratches and damage better than any other jewelry metal, so a piece of tungsten carbide jewelry maintains its polish for many, many years. The grey color is darker than titanium. Tungsten carbide is actually an alloy of tungsten and carbon and the metal derives its strength from this composition. The industrial metals are especially popular in contemporary men’s jewelry, and many men choose these metals for attractive, durable wedding bands.
Cobalt is a hypoallergenic and tarnish resistant bright white metal that has been used since ancient times for jewelry. This strong solid contemporary metal is durable, dense, and similar in weight to gold and has been used in the medical industry for years.
Precious Metal Jewelry Buying Tips
The jewelry industry is carefully regulated to prevent misrepresentation or fraud. By law, all objects containing precious metals must be clearly and obviously described as to metal type, purity and manufacture, following regulations set down by the US Federal Trade Commission.
Gold and platinum are durable, sturdy and dependable, and make ideal settings for your precious diamond jewelry. However, to get a lifetime of enjoyment from your jewelry, be sure to keep it clean and safe.