We all have our preferences when it comes to jewelry. Some would prefer a beautiful set of earrings as opposed to a necklace. Others would prefer a ring as opposed to a bangle. The preference doesn’t stop at the type of jewelry, even the material used is also a matter of preference.
As a jewelry lover, you should know about the different materials used especially the metals. Those with an allergic reaction to certain metals, especially, have to be extra careful.
Here we will look at the common non-magnetic metals as well as some of the magnetic ones used in jewelry.
We will also discuss their pros and cons, so you’re better informed about which metal is suitable for you.
2 Common Non-Magnetic Metals Used in Jewelry.
It’s good to know the difference between magnetic and non-magnetic metals as well as their pros and cons. When it comes to jewelry making, jewelers favor nonmagnetic metal as opposed to magnetic ones. This is mainly due to their general corrosion resistance, although that may vary depending on what the metals are mixed with. Non-magnetic metal is also lighter hence more suitable for jewelry. Below are two common non-magnetic metals used in jewelry making, along with their properties as well as pros and cons:
The question of whether or not stainless steel is a magnetic metal or not has no definitive answer.
It boils down to its microstructure. Those are elements used in making stainless steel. That is why you may come across different types of stainless steel like ferritic, duplex, martensitic, and austenitic stainless steel.
It’s important to understand their differences if you’re looking for non-magnetic stainless steel.
Ferritic stainless steel for example is magnetic because it contains large amounts of ferrites. Ferrites are a compound of iron (a magnetic metal) mixed with other elements. Martensitic stainless steel is also considered magnetic due to its unique crystal structure that usually contains iron.
Austenitic stainless steel, however, is a non-magnetic type of stainless steel mainly because it contains larger amounts of nickel.
Duplex stainless steel on the other hand, as the name suggests, is a combination of ferritic and austenitic stainless steel.
Therefore, it makes a mild magnetic metal. So, when looking for non-magnetic stainless steel, ensure that it is austenitic.
Properties of austenitic stainless steel are as follows:
- It’s easy to clean and resistant to corrosion.
- Contains components of nickel that make it non-magnetic and chromium that makes it hard and durable.
- Performs well under high temperatures and is especially malleable with heat treatment.
- It hardens fast during cold work.
- It has great welding properties and is ductile as well as readily formable.
The following are the pros and cons of using austenitic stainless steel in jewelry:
- It’s resistant to corrosion hence will remain shiny and lustrous for a long time.
- It’s durable even when cut into thin sheets, hence suitable for light jewelry.
- It’s highly malleable and can be molded into various shapes and designs.
- It’s cheaper than precious metal.
- Its jewelry is readily available.
- It can be problematic to those sensitive to metals, due to the nickel component.
- Can contain small amounts of iron depending on where it’s made.
For a long time, brass has been used in making various things, from sculpting to kitchen wear to musical instruments, to electrical wires. Recently it’s become a popular metal for handmade jewelry and ornaments.
Its attractive golden hue makes it a great and cheaper alternative to gold jewelry. Its gold-like appearance is also similar to bronze, which is why jewelers call it “jeweler’s bronze”.
Brass metal is an alloy made up of zinc and copper. The copper is mostly responsible for the golden hue while the zinc is responsible for its hardness and durability.
It is also a non-magnetic metal that is resistant to corrosion.
It does, however, oxidize over time creating a brownish-green coating (patina).
Still, even with the patina, brass jewelry maintains an antique appearance, so you can’t go wrong with brass. Still, you can always have it polished to restore its golden gleam.
You should, however, keep it away from water because it could weaken it. This is due to the zinc component that would dissolve in water over time.
Here is a summary of brass properties you should know:
- It’s non-magnetic and resistant to corrosion.
- It’s ductile and can be manipulated into any form pr shape.
- It’s not the hardest metal but it’s tough and durable.
- It oxidizes over time and weakens when exposed to water and other chemicals over time.
The following are some of the pros and cons of brass jewelry:
- It’s a great alternative to bronze and gold.
- It’s durable and can be worn continuously for a long time.
- It’s resistant to corrosion.
- It’s easy to maintain.
- It tarnishes over time.
- Can be problematic for those with metal sensitivity.
3 Common Magnetic Metals Used in Jewelry.
Pure nickel is one of the most abundant metals on earth. It has a silver-like appearance and initially used to be used in making jewelry like earrings.
Unlike silver, however, pure nickel turns to a dull brown color over time due to corrosion.
Today, pure nickel is rarely used to make jewelry due to the allergic reaction it was found to have on most people.
You will mostly find it mixed in alloys like stainless steel, to make them non-magnetic.
Iron is yet another abundant metal and can be acquired very cheaply. It’s a cheap metal alternative for making jewelry designs at a low cost.
Jewelers, however, refrain from using iron because unlike gold or silver, it’s is not visually appealing.
Additionally, iron is prone to corrosion when exposed to air and moisture.
Also, because of its easy availability and inexpensive nature, it is not ideal for making expensive ornaments with high value.
Some jewelers, however, can use iron to make jewelry that they then coat with golden or silver paint to give it the shine it lacks.
The paint, however, fades over time. So be careful about the kind of jewelry you buy. Ensure it’s real gold and not coated.
Compared to precious metals, cobalt is easier on the pocket when it comes to jewelry making.
Although it’s a hard metal, it is normally not used in its pure form. Most times cobalt is mixed with metals like tungsten, chromium, and iron. This makes the cobalt alloy more malleable and wearable.
Cobalt alloys are especially used in making inexpensive rings, including wedding bands.
Due to their hardness, they are durable and scratch-resistant. They also have a resemblance to platinum; in case you were looking for a cheap platinum alternative.
The problem with cobalt, however, is that it is highly corrosive.
With time it leaves a green color on your fingers due to exposure to air and moisture.
It’s however a hypoallergenic metal, therefore those with metal sensitivity shouldn’t have a problem.
Jewelry can vary not only in shape and size but also in the materials that go into it. Metal jewelry can be confusing and difficult to differentiate to shared resemblance.
Someone who understands the different properties of metals used in jewelry can easily tell the difference.
Being informed about these metals can prove useful when picking out jewelry especially if you have a metal sensitivity.
Read More jewelry metals posts here or here!
Tiger is a fashion&jewelry lover. He is also a fashion jewelry manufacturer that help thousands of small business to grow and also do business with some big fashion jewelry brands. He is a truly metal expert and he will share some information you are looking for.