CRITICALLY IMPORTANT — PLEASE READ!
One of the most common questions we get—and rightly so—is about the metal we use in our rings. The information below, while lengthy, is worth reading and will help you to better understand, first and foremost, why this should be important to you, and also educate you so that you can make an informed decision that you won't regret later.
Manufacturer or Importer
Understanding the differences between the various metals used in the creation of fine jewelry is interesting from an educational standpoint, and also useful from a practical perspective, but most important of all, it’s important so that you don’t get ripped off, paying way more money that you should for something you think you are getting, but in reality are not. This is important to us because none of our puzzle rings are plated, filled, rolled or hollow, which means your ring will last a lifetime and retain its value. We know that those things are important to you, too.
Many online puzzle ring resellers are simply importers, they buy their rings in bulk from overseas manufacturers and may not even know whether the rings they are buying are of high quality or not. The phrase “You get what you pay for” is especially true when you buy jewelry from an online reseller. So, how do you know that you are getting what you paid for and the quality you expect?
First, buy from someone who has been in the business for a long time and has a strong reputation. The Puzzle Ring Emporium family of craftsmen have been designing and crafting puzzle rings for more than 65 years! It’s been a family business since 1947, having been passed along through the generations. Over those 65+ years in the puzzle ring business, we have hundreds of satisfied customer. You can read some of their comments on Our Raving Fans page.
The Quality of the Metal
This is ultimately what it all comes down to, the quality of the metal. We use only the highest quality 925 Sterling Silver, 10K, 14K, and 18K Gold, and Platinum, and all of our rings are available in any of the above five precious metals and are stamped as such. Each of these metals has different benefits and unique qualities, and of course, different price structures.
As mentioned above, many ring resellers import cheaply-made rings from China or other overseas locations. They may "claim" that their rings are 14K gold, but usually they are only "plated" with 14K gold, which may look good at first, but eventually that plating wears off and then you are left with a cheap ring that doesn't look like gold at all, because it's not. And just because someone says a ring is made of white gold doesn’t necessarily mean it is. Read on to understand the difference between high quality and low quality rings.
Besides the color, what is the difference between Sterling Silver, Gold and Platinum? Which metal is right for me?
By understanding the difference between the various metals, their benefits compared with each other and their unique qualities you will be able to make a better and more informed decision about which metal is right for you. The following will educate you about all three metals: Gold (in three karat options), Sterling Silver and Platinum.
Gold has been a valuable and highly sought-after precious metal for jewelry since long before the beginning of recorded history. It is the most popular choice for men's and ladies puzzle rings and wedding puzzle rings and is also very popular in, earrings, pendants, necklaces and bracelets.
There are two primary things to consider when looking at gold. First, which karat to choose and second, the gold color or the combination of gold colors available.
Karat and Color
The karats (K) most commonly used in ladies’ and men's rings are 10K, 14K and 18K gold. Karat (or carat) signifies the gold content of the metal. A unit karat of gold is equal to 1/24 part (4.1667%). 24K gold is “pure” gold, meaning that it contains no other metal alloys. However, 24K gold is too soft and therefore easily damaged to be used in jewelry, so it is usually mixed (alloyed) with other metals like silver or copper, which alters its hardness and ductility, color and other properties. The higher the proportion of gold used in the final metal, the more valuable and expensive the metal will be. So, generally speaking, an 18K ring will be more expensive than a 14K ring, and a 14K ring will be more expensive than a 10K ring.
Following are the percentages of pure gold found in the various karat levels used in our rings:
- 10K gold contains 41.7% pure gold
- 14K gold contains 58.5% pure gold
- 18K gold contains 75.0% pure gold
Unlike sterling silver and platinum, gold can come in a variety of colors, including yellow gold, white gold, rose gold and others less popular choices such as bronze, red and lime gold. Two-tone rings with a combination of white gold and yellow gold, or white gold and rose gold can also be made using a combination of different gold colors. These jewelry items are sometimes called two-tone, three-tone or multi-colored gold.
The gold content of yellow gold is measured in the same way it is measured in, for example, white gold. So an 18K white gold ring contains 75% pure gold, just as 18K yellow gold ring contains 75% pure gold. The difference in color between yellow, white and rose is determined by the metals used in the alloy mix. As the color difference is due to the metal components in the alloy mix, the color of yellow gold and rose gold will not chip, fade or wear off with age.
Yellow gold is made by mixing pure gold with alloy metals such as copper and zinc. Rose gold is made using a mix of pure gold with alloys including copper. The copper provides the rose color. White gold is an alloy of gold and some white metals such as silver and palladium.
Traditionally, nickel was used in white gold (to make the gold whiter), however, nickel is no longer used in most white gold made today as nickel can cause allergic reactions with some people. According to the North American Contact Dermatitis Group, nickel allergies have been on the rise in North America in recent years and now affect 24% to 36% of women and 7% to 15% of men. If you buy a ring from an importer, you run the risk of getting a ring with nickel in it. We, on the other hand, NEVER use nickel in our white gold rings.
Caution! Gold, Gold-Plated or Gold-Filled?
When shopping for a gold ring, it’s important to know the difference between these common phrases. Not all “Gold” is created equal!
Gold- plated jewelry is NOT gold jewelry. Gold-plated jewelry is jewelry made of a cheaper base metal or silver that has a very thin layer of gold applied to the top via an electroplating process. The layer is so thin, that it can usually be rubbed off with a coarse pencil eraser in a few swipes. The gold plating on such rings should really be thought of as nothing more than a coloring (an aesthetic attribute) that may look good when they are brand new, but won’t take long for the gold to rub off. There is virtually no inherent or long-lasting value to the gold applied, even if it says that its 18K gold. This doesn’t mean gold-plated jewelry is “junk”, it’s just important that you know the difference and are not fooled into thinking you are buying one thing, when in reality you are buying something else. You get what you pay for.
Gold- filled jewelry is NOT gold jewelry. Gold-filled jewelry is made by taking one or more sheets of solid gold (10K, 14K, 18K, etc.) and bonding them to a less expensive base metal, such as sterling silver. The appearance is the same as a solid gold ring, but is able to be produced at a fraction of the cost. This is because a gold-filled ring contains only about 1/20 or 5% of the pure gold (by weight) than in a true gold ring. Gold-filled rings may contain twice as much gold as a gold-plated ring so a gold-filled ring is better than a gold-plated ring, but still not anywhere near as valuable as a solid gold ring.
The bottom line is buyer beware ! It is your responsibility to know what you are buying. Do not be fooled into thinking a piece of jewelry is solid gold just because the product description on a web site says it is. If the price seems too good to be true, it is. (You may be interested to know that the price for one ounce of pure 24K gold (from which gold jewelry is made) as of June 7, 2015 is $1,173.85. If you’d like to check the current price of gold, you can do so here: http://goldprice.org/gold-price.html ) You simply can’t make a cheap ring out of expensive real gold; you just can’t.
For more information about how we price our “solid” gold rings, please see ‘How Do We Determine the Price of Our Rings?’ below.
Like gold, silver is one of the world's oldest metals for jewelry design. Highly reflective and malleable, silver has been transformed into everything from fine flatware to mirrors, but one of its most enduring uses is for rings. But buying a silver ring can be tricky. Is it really silver or just silver-plated? There is a huge difference!
Jewelers refer to pure or nearly pure silver as “fine” silver. However, fine silver, which must contain 99.9% pure silver, is generally too soft and easily damaged to use in jewelry. Therefore, as with gold, the silver is alloyed to give it strength while preserving the ductility and appearance of the precious metal. Sterling silver, designated as ‘925 Sterling Silver’, is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals and is the overwhelming favorite metal for silver jewelry. We use only 925 Sterling Silver in all of our rings.
It is important to also know that the alloy used in our sterling silver is not copper, which has traditionally been the most common alloy used in sterling silver. Instead, we use a “deox alloy”, which means that it is tarnish resistant. When Grandma’s silver tarnished, it was really the copper content in the sterling doing the damage. Today’s refiners make alloys that are far superior to copper and ideal for creating a non-tarnishing ring. And we use no nickel alloy. (See the information about nickel in the section about gold above.)
As jewelry, sterling silver has many advantages over fine silver. It retains silver's brilliance and workability, but it is considerably more durable than pure silver.
Many rings may claim be sterling silver rings when in fact they are not solid sterling silver at all, but are what the industry calls “electroplated” or “rolled” or “filled”. These rings have a layer of sterling silver over a non-precious base metal core. The layer of sterling silver is usually 1/20 to 1/10 the total thickness of the base metal. Electroplating is the most common method used today, but filling or rolling are still in practice as well. If you see a ring that says “sterling silver” but is dirt cheap, you will know for a certainty that it is electroplated, rolled or filled. The disadvantage of such rings should be obvious: (1) The thin layer of silver wears off easily and degrades in appearance quickly because the uglier base metal becomes exposed, which can then corrode and even stain the skin; and (2) silver-plated rings will hold no long-term value, so are seldom, if ever, passed down as family heirlooms.
So, Why Silver?
While sterling silver is not quite as popular as gold, it is still a top choice for one very specific reason: Price! Although it is considered a precious metal, silver costs far less than gold or platinum, making it a great choice for individuals who want to wear beautiful, high-quality jewelry, but are on a budget. As long as you careful not to buy a cheap silver-plated, filled, or rolled ring, sterling silver is a beautiful and long-lasting choice. (Read more about precious metal pricing below.) If you’re curious about the current price of silver you can view it here: http://silverprice.org
Platinum is a silvery, white metal that is extremely rare and considered even more precious than gold. Unlike gold, it is used in jewelry in its (almost) pure form (approximately 95% pure). Platinum is extremely long-wearing and durable. It is a very dense and heavy metal, so a platinum ring will feel heavier than an 18K gold ring. Because platinum is a naturally white metal, re-plating is unnecessary; it will always hold its beauty.
Platinum is five times as rare as gold, and therefore, significantly more expensive. Plus, unlike gold, which is still considered “gold” as long as it is at least 41% pure, to be considered "platinum," the metal must contain at least 90% pure platinum. With all other things being equal, a platinum ring will be approximately twice the price of an 18K white gold ring.
Because platinum will last forever, making it the ultimate symbol for true, enduring, and everlasting love, it is mainly used in ladies’ and men's wedding rings. However, platinum is the prestige choice and is often chosen for its sophisticated appeal and popularity amongst the rich and famous, so if cost is not a factor for you and you like to own the best, go for it! No matter which design you choose, there is no cooler ring than a platinum puzzle ring.
How Do We Determine the Price of Our Rings?
Our pricing is extremely simple: All of our puzzle rings are priced based precisely on the weight of the precious metal in each individual ring. In other words, you get exactly what you are paying for.
To give you an idea of what we mean, take a look at our 4T Ladies' Puzzle Ring as an example. The 4T is a relatively simple (and popular) puzzle ring, but as you can see from the chart below, the total weight of the ring (in grams) varies depending on which precious metal you choose:
As you can see from the above chart, because of the density of the pure gold, the higher the Karat of gold the heavier the ring. Platinum is very dense, and therefore, very heavy. And because the gold rings are alloyed, they do not all weigh exactly the same. Thus, the amount of pure gold and, therefore the weight and cost of the ring, vary depending on which Karat of gold is chosen. If you choose the 14K ring, the ring would weigh 4.86 grams and the pure gold required would be is 2.8431 grams (14K is 58.5% pure gold, so 4.86 x 58.5%). With platinum you are using the raw metal (at least 95% purity) with the balance being iridium or palladium.
So, as you can see, the exact amount of precious metal used in any given ring is a somewhat complex and detailed calculation. And our selling prices are based on exactly how much silver, gold or platinum is required for each particular ring.
Not that you needed to know all of that, but now, as you browse through our wide selection of puzzle rings, you will have a better understanding for why there is such a variance in price between each of the five precious metal options.