Hard rock and heavy metal: No, we’re not talking about music.

Choose the right metal for your design
Choosing your jewelry metal goes beyond karats.
Gone are the days of just 14k, 18k, and simple colors.
Choose your metal shade based on your skintone and lifestyle.
For decades, typical jewelry stores have given us two basic choices: Gold or Platinum.  And for golds: “10k, 14k, or 18k?” the salesperson asked.  So we all chose our metals, wore our jewelry like we were told to do, but never really stopped to ask, “is this the best metal for my style?”
Let me blow your mind for a moment:
Yellow golds come in over 4 different shades.
Rose gold comes in three shades.
And white gold?  5 shades.
So let’s refocus a bit: choosing the right metal for your design should go beyond your lifestyle and color preference.  It should go hand-in-hand with your skintone.
Discover the many shades of common jewelry metals.
Photo Credit:  Zero Porosity Casting
Metals & Design Needs
Some designs require certain metals. Here's my take on why.
Platinum and golds act very differently, both in fabrication and in long-term wear.  When fabricating, 950 Platinum Ruthenium can be beautifully carved and engraved, with wonderful metal memory that really lends well to intricate or antique designs.  It also holds diamonds securely, and can take a lot of hard wear without easily breaking.
However, for simpler and more classic designs, I always suggest 14k or 18k golds.  These hard and brittle metals tend to hold high polish for longer, instead of the fine scratches typically seen with platinum (“patina”).  Most especially, 14k white gold is also an ideal match for dainty designs, lending structure and hardness to an otherwise thinner design.
    • 950 Ruthenium Platinum (our platinum of choice) is naturally “white”, hypoallergenic, and the third-hardest platinum on the Vickers Scale at 130.  We prefer it for its “well-rounded” ability to cast well, carve beautifully, and wear well long-term.
    • 18k Golds are NOT significantly softer than 14k, and contain 75% pure gold.
    • Not all white gold needs to be rhodium-plated.  We offer Palladium White Gold, which requires very little maintenance and is alloyed with palladium.
    • We offer 3 different shades of 18k Yellow Gold.
Wait, wait, wait, I've always heard that Platinum is the best metal for all jewelry!
For pretty much “decades,” many jewelry store salespeople were taught that platinum is the end-all-be-all metal for your fine jewelry.  So they told their clients.  And their clients told their friends.  And so on, and so forth.  But those salespeople were not really taught the limitations of platinum.
Platinum Ruthenium (the most common 950 Platinum on the market today) is 130 on the Vickers Hardness scale.  18k White Gold can be as high as 210 on the Vickers Scale.  That’s a big difference.
Platinum will scratch more easily, but it is an absolute rockstar in toughness.  Much like working in leather, platinum can be shaped and tends to “stay” where it’s put.  Likewise, platinum will bend before it breaks.  White gold, by contrast, is harder than it is tough.  It will snap under extreme pressure, rather than bending, but it will also scratch less easily.  The real choice comes down to your design and lifestyle needs…not “because platinum is always better.”
White Gold Three Stone Style Diamond Jewelry
The Leake Co. helps you choose the best engagement ring and diamond.
Choosing Your Metal Color
The right metal shade can really turn up the color on your skintone.
I approach metal color much like clothing color theory.
If you tend to have an olive skin tone with high feature contrast, I might suggest 18k Celadon Gold (“Green Gold”) or 18k Rose Gold as beautiful, highly-saturated colors that will look rich and buttery on your hand.
Example:  you have yellowish undertones, very dark hair and dark eyes, and tend to look fantastic in jewel tones, black, and deep browns.
If you have pink-rose undertones to your skin, or low feature contrast, you will absolutely love 18k Royal Yellow, 14k Yellow, or 14k Rose Gold.  These metals have slight pinkish undertones to them, or are a bit more muted for a softer look.
Example:  you have pinkish undertones, medium to light hair, light colored eyes, and tend to look fantastic in brighter colors, white, ivory, and general Spring/Winter colors.


Choosing your metal is fun
Raw Casting Grain:  the beginning of jewelry
Yellow gold comes in many different shades
Left to right:
14k Yellow, 18k Royal Yellow, 18k Celadon Yellow
But wait, what if I have metal allergies?
Let us know!  Just because you have a metal allergy, doesn’t mean you’re only limited to Platinum.
Many golds can be cast without nickel, which is an alloy commonly associated with allergic reactions.
Can I try on some different colors during my Design Appointment?
Enter in:  our Metal Discovery Bar
We have 7 different metals available for viewing in studio.  Try them on your hand, view the shades, and make the right decision for you.
Are you planning to surprise someone and don’t know which metal to choose?
Bring a well-lit picture of your beloved with you, and I can suggest options!
The Lea

Custom Jewelry in the Modern Age

Let’s break out of the mold and tailor your heirloom to you.
  • Choose your favorite color
  • Learn about the benefits and limitations of each metal
  • Wear your heirloom for generations.
Ready to learn more? Contact us to talk about your dream heirloom.