From time-to-time we’re asked how much wear and hard use our precious metal jewelry can stand up to. Jewelers have been answering this question for ages. This question comes up most often in regards to rings which are the most “in the line of fire.”
While precious metals vary in their hardness and durability, we always advise customers to avoid wearing fine and treasured jewelry in situations where the jewelry could be exposed to chemicals or come into contact with hard and abrasive surfaces. That’s a polite way of saying “NO! Do not wear your gold ring while roofing!” (By the way, that is an actual question we received.)
Some people (hmmm …. I’d say mostly men) seem to think that because precious metal is more expensive than non-precious metal, it should be more durable. But it’s precious because it’s rare, not because it’s indestructible. Like silk compared to denim.
Sterling Silver is the softest of the precious metals. Gold is harder, but still a relatively soft metal. The hardness of gold increases as the purity decreases. The alloy that is mixed with the gold is actually harder than the gold, so the larger the percentage of alloy, the harder the piece. This means that 10k gold is harder than 14k gold, which is harder than 18k gold.
The two hardest precious metals are platinum and palladium. Palladium, is actually harder and lighter than platinum, and makes an excellent choice for an everyday ring such as wedding rings. Platinum is a hard, but heavy metal, and at the top of the pricing pyramid as it’s more scarce. A harder ring will stand up better to dings and dents, but it will still scratch, so you still need to take care with it.
Precious metals make for the finest jewelry, but all fine things need special care. Take care of your jewelry and, please, DO NOT wear your gold ring while roofing!
Posted by Sorella