Guide to Metals
We make our jewellery and rings in sterling silver, various golds, palladium and platinum
Each metal has it's own special properties and character.
Silver is the most affordable of our precious metals. Kept well, that is to say, clean and polished, it looks beautiful and is not unlike palladium and platinum, indeed it is brighter and whiter in colour. It is however, much softer than these metals and can become scratched if the owner is not careful. For this reason silver is rarely used for wedding rings with most lovers of white metal rings choosing white gold, palladium or platinum instead.
Silver requires regular care as it can tarnish or oxidise but the good news is that most scratches can be polished out and your jewellery will look as good as new if you look after it well – see our Care of Your Jewellery tips.
Sterling Silver & Enamel
Silver used with vibrant enamels creates a really amazing effect and is one of our specialities, featuring in most of our jewellery collections. Enamel is molton glass and does not discolour or fade.
Although enamel is reasonably hard wearing it still needs to be treated with an element of care. Enamel rings and jewellery should not be dropped on stone floors or hard surfaces. Silver & enamel rings should also not be worn next to rings on the adjacent finger or abrasion may damage the enamel. We also would advise taking off silver & enamel rings for outdoor sports, gardening or manual activities that include lifting heavy objects such as a table. We’ve also had instances of rings being affected when clapping at a concert or wedding; if you are wearing rings on both hands take care not to knock one ring against the other.
Gold is available in different degrees of purity, known as carat. The higher the carat, the more gold in your jewellery. For example 24 carat is considered pure gold. Gold is most commonly available in the UK as 9 carat (over a third pure gold) and 18 carat (three-quarters pure gold) and these are the gold carats we use for our jewellery and rings.
18ct gold is often chosen for ladies engagement rings as it has a higher gold content than lower carats, a sumptious feel and tends to look better than 9ct as it ages.
As well as different purity of golds we also offer gold in three colours : yellow gold, white gold and rose gold.
is the gold most people are familiar with and the type of gold found naturally in the earth. To create 9ct or 18ct yellow gold, pure natural gold is mixed with metals such as silver, copper and zinc, this creates an alloy which is harder than pure gold. 9ct gold contains more silver, copper and zinc than 18ct gold.
The metals added to yellow gold make it more resistant to scratching and denting as well as adding to the overall appearance. Rose gold for example has a warm blush from the copper content while 9ct white gold takes on a creamy white colour from the silver and 18ct white gold is a darker white from the palladium.
This metal does not occur naturally but is made by adding other metals to yellow gold.
9ct white gold is an alloy of yellow gold and silver and has a white, creamy colour with a small hint of yellow.
18ct white gold is yellow gold mixed with palladium to give a rich, dark white colour. The palladium also makes 18ct white gold more resilient than 9ct white gold.
Both 9ct and 18ct white gold can be rhodium plated to produce an even whiter finish. At Sheila Fleet we do not rhodium-plate rings as standard, but this can be done for a small extra charge. Applying a plating of rhodium gives rings a nice lustre, but the plating may need to be replaced during the lifetime of the ring. White gold rings are just right for people who prefer silver to gold jewellery, but want a more durable and hard-wearing wedding ring.
Like white gold, rose gold does not occur naturally but is created by adding a metal, copper, to yellow gold. The warm blush of rose gold comes from its copper content. Very popular in the 19th century, rose gold is once again gracing the catwalk and fashion magazines. We offer rose gold in 9ct in several of our collections. Call us if you do not see a rose gold option but would like the design made in this beautiful metal.
Palladium and Platinum
Palladium and platinum are the other metals we use. Both of these are harder, heavier in weight than silver or gold and more pure. They will not tarnish over time, are very durable and unlikely to show any evidence of everyday wear and are both very good if you have sensitive skin as they are hypo-allergic. Both are rarer than gold and more expensive but will last a lifetime and beyond.
This metal is slightly darker in colour than platinum but holds a magnificent polish. It is also less dense, ie less heavy, than platinum and is more affordable.
The rarest, most precious metal... it's density also makes it the heaviest metal to wear and the most expensive to buy. It polishes to an incredible white shine.
Silver used with vibrant enamels creates a really amazing effect and features in most of our jewellery collections