*Always follow care instructions included with your jewelry.
Pure gold is a soft precious metal resistant to rust, tarnish and corrosion. Because it is extremely malleable, it is alloyed with other metals like silver, nickel, zinc or copper to make it stronger and more durable. The ratio of pure gold to other metals is measured in karats (k); 24k gold jewelry is 100 percent pure gold.
Found naturally in yellow, the color of gold jewelry depends on the types and proportions of other metals used when alloyed.
To care for gold jewelry, keep it away from harsh abrasives and clean it with warm, detergent-free soapy water and a soft-bristled brush.
Pure silver is an extremely soft precious metal. To create a strong alloy for use in jewelry, 92.5 percent pure silver is mixed with 7.5 percent of another metal, usually copper. This durable alloy is called sterling silver.
To prevent damage, keep sterling silver items away from household chemicals and out of chlorinated water. Polish sterling silver jewelry with a tarnish remover as necessary.
Stainless steel is a durable steel alloy made of chromium (at least 10.5 percent) and another metal. It is resistant to bending, breaking, tarnish, corrosion and rust. It is also hypoallergenic, making it ideal for those with sensitive skin.
To care for stainless steel jewelry, soak it in warm, soapy water and wipe it with a soft cloth. Do not use harsh abrasives.
The strongest of precious metals used in jewelry making, platinum is quite rare. Highly durable and dense, its color will never fade or alter. Most platinum jewelry is made of approximately 95 percent pure platinum.
To care for platinum jewelry, soak it in warm, soapy water and scrub it with a soft-bristled brush. To remove a patina, buff a platinum item with a soft cloth.
Tungsten carbide, an alloy made of 80 percent tungsten and 20 percent carbon alloyed with other metals, is extremely strong and has a high melting point. It is virtually scratch-resistant and tarnish-resistant. In addition, it is hypoallergenic.
To clean tungsten jewelry, use detergent-free soap, warm water and a soft cloth. Ultrasonic cleaners, steam cleaners and harsh abrasives should not be used.
Titanium, the hardest natural metal in the world, is very strong and lightweight. Pure titanium is hypoallergenic, making it perfect for those with sensitive skin.
To clean titanium jewelry, use window cleaner or liquid dish soap and water. Gently wipe away dirt and oils with a soft cloth. Do not use harsh abrasives.