The most appealing characteristic of platinum is its durability. Each time other metals are scratched or polished, a tiny bit of metal is lost. In fact eventually, prongs of white gold and yellow gold may wear down enough that you need to have them reinforced with more metal for safety.
But not with platinum. A scratch in platinum may leave a mark on the metal, but this metal is so strong that it will not readily chip or splinter.
While it is the strongest of jewelry metals, it can scratch and develop a patina of wear. Many people prefer this look, unique to platinum. But if you like the shine, a jeweler can polish your jewelry to bring back the original reflective finish. In the mean time, buffing with a soft cloth can give your jewelry renewed luster.
Soaking platinum in a mild solution of soap and warm water and gently scrubbing it with a soft-bristled brush is usually all that is required to maintain the metal's luster.
Gold won't tarnish, rust, or corrode, and though it's very strong, it is also the most malleable of all metals.
Pure gold is too soft to withstand the stresses of every-day wear, so it is alloyed with a mixture of metals like silver, copper, nickel, and zinc to give it strength and durability. Karatage, noted by a number followed by "k" indicates purity, or how much of the metal in a piece of jewelry is gold. Karatage is expressed in 24ths, making 24k gold 100% gold.
The color of gold is determined by two factors:
The type of metal alloys included in it
The percentage of each metal alloy
18k gold contains more precious metal than 14k gold. It is composed of 75% gold, which is alloyed with other metals to make it strong enough to withstand every-day wear. Because 14k gold is composed of only 58.5% gold, and 41.5% other metals that give it strength, its gold color is not as rich as 18k gold. 14k gold is most commonly found in cases where strength is most important, like in earring backs and bracelet clasps.
Rose gold gets its color from a larger proportion of copper in the metal alloy. This gives the gold a beautiful pink color.
Keep your gold jewelry away from harsh chemicals such as chlorine and cleaning fluids. This will reduce daily abrasions and prolong gold's luster. To clean gold jewelry, use a solution of warm water and detergent-free soap and wash gold gently with a soft-bristled brush (a dull tooth brush works well). Store gold pieces separately in soft cloth bags or original boxes to protect them from the exposure to harsh daily elements.
Pure silver, also called fine silver, is relatively soft, very malleable, and easily damaged so it is commonly combined with other metals to produce a more durable product. The most popular of these alloys is sterling silver, which consists of 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent copper.
With proper care, your fine quality silver will last a lifetime. To minimize scratches and other damage, store your silver jewelry either in a cloth pouch or in a separate compartment in your jewelry box. Avoid exposing your silver to household chemicals when cleaning with bleach or ammonia, or when swimming in chlorinated water, as these chemicals can damage silver.
Care should also be taken to prevent silver tarnish build-up, a dulling that naturally occurs when silver reacts with sulfur or hydrogen sulfide in the ambient air. To clean your silver, use polishes formulated specifically to remove tarnish. You can find fine silver polishes, solutions, or cloths appropriate to remove tarnish at most hardware stores or specialty craft stores. Tarnish is most easily removed when it first becomes visible.
Although wearing your silver jewelry often is the best way to prevent tarnish from building up, regular cleanings of all your silver items will prevent tarnish and keep your silver bright and sparkling.