Taking a shine to more than just gold

Gold has been prized since prehistoric times. The American Museum of Natural History says it was probably the first metal worked by humans. King Tut was buried in it. Spanish conquistadors killed for it. California was defined by the rush to unearth it. Mr. T wore so much it's amazing he didn't fall over.

But not all that glitters is gold. Platinum is beloved for ring settings. Silver boasts a rich history. It comes down to personal preference -- and fashion trends, of course.

"In the 1970s, you couldn't give white gold away," says Daniel Ballard, sales manager for Precious Metals West in L.A. "Yellow gold was hot, hot, hot." Today, not so much.

What's the next hot thing?

Maybe palladium, naturally silver-white, cheaper than gold, denser than its cousin platinum. Stay tuned.

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Metal options

Why buy platinum?

It's durable. (Your granddaughter probably won't need to have the prongs repaired when she inherits your diamond ring.) It has heft. It has snob appeal.

Why buy white gold?

It looks much like platinum but costs much less. It holds the "mirror sheen" longer. It doesn't scratch easily.

Why buy yellow gold?

It's hard to scratch. Cleopatra wore it.

Why buy silver?

It costs much less than the other options. It has a rich heritage, including among Native Americans. It's wildly popular for fashion jewelry.

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Source: Precious Metals West

For The Record Los Angeles Times Thursday, February 07, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 25 words Type of Material: Correction Jewelry: An article in the Business section Sunday about precious metals in jewelry said palladium was denser than platinum. Platinum is much denser than palladium.
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