Fashion jewelry may be composed of various materials, and different materials have its different characteristics and effects like hardness, cost, oxidation resistance, brightness and so on. So if you want to customize fashion jewelry, you have to know jewellery making materials and then decide what materials to use based on its characteristics and cost.

For more knowledge about customizing and private labelling jewelry, check my another informative article: Customize and Private Label Jewelry from China manufacturers

In today’s post, I will introduce the 7 main materials for fashion jewelry but not the luxury materials like diamonds or gold. Click the below items you are interested in to navigate you.

  1. K gold Jewelry/Alloy Jewelry/Gold-plated Jewelry
  2. Copper Jewelry
  3. Stainless Steel Jewelry
  4. Iron Jewelry
  5. 925 Silver Jewelry
  6. Zircon/rhinestone/crystal Jewelry
  7. Acrylic/Resin Jewelry

1. K gold Jewelry/Alloy Jewelry/Gold-plated Jewelry

The difference between gold jewelry and K gold jewelry

What is K gold? K gold is an alloy of gold fused with other metals. Since pure gold is too soft to be shaped, we need to add some other metals to increase the gold’s hardness, change its hue and decrease the melting point and these characteristics vary with different metal proportions.

According to the content of gold in the finished product, k-gold jewelry can be divided into:

k gold

14 Karat gold is the most widely used and Asians fancy high K gold jewelry such as 22K and 18K. While Europeans and Americans like 14K and 10K gold jewelry. Then what’s the difference between gold jewelry and K gold jewelry?

One characteristic of gold is that it is expensive and another is that it is of high ductility. So it is difficult to make gold into delicate designs, especially when it is inlaid with pearls, gem or emeralds. 

Therefore, people add some silver, copper, zinc and other metals to gold to increase its hardness and toughness. So the K gold is cheaper and can be made into various colors, and not easy to deform.

Different types of alloy Jewelry

There are many kinds of alloys based on the difference in texture and composition. Such as copper alloy, lead-tin alloy and zinc alloy. Among them, copper alloy and lead tin alloy are usually applied in jewelry industry.

Lead-tin Alloy: This alloy is soft and malleable. Because of its low price, lead-free and non-toxic, so many fashion jewelry take it as the main material.

Copper Alloy: Copper alloy is the most common one and they have a high resistance against corrosion. It is not easy to bend and deform but the price will be higher.

Gold-plated Jewelry

Gold-plated jewelry is made of silver or copper, and the surface coating is plated gold to replace the original material with a golden luster, thus improving the value of jewelry. 

The gold content of gold plating shall not be less than 14K, and its thickness shall not be less than 0.5 microns. The coating thickness of the alloy jewelry also determines the service life of the jewelry. Thick coating means long-time use in some way. But correspondingly, the thicker the coating is, the higher the price will be.

The most commonly used thickness is 0.025~0.03mil. The “mil ” here is the thickness unit of the plating of the jewelry, 1mil=1/1000inch=0.00254cm=0.0254mm. The electroplating technology is the best in Korea. In China, most of the factories with good electroplating technology are located in Guangdong province.

2. Copper Jewelry

Copper can be made into bronze ( mixed mainly with tin) and brass (mixed with zinc).  And the proportion of copper and other metals determines what it will be and how it looks like. Bronze is often applied in artware and brass will be shaped into bracelets, rings and pendants.

Copper is highly durable and as jewelry, it can last for a long time in spite of daily wear. It is often set as the base for jewelry and matched with leather or gemstones.

Initially, copper jewelry presents an orange-red hue. And as time passes, it will turn green and gradually develop patina due to the wear.

copper jewelry

3. Stainless Steel Jewelry

The stainless steel jewelry is very tough and also corrosion-resistant. It won’t go black like silver jewelry, or allergenic like copper jewelry, nor have lead toxicity like alloy jewelry.

It completely won’t discolor, deform or be corroded. It is such a green material that have no harm or any side effects to human body. The jewelry made in stainless steel maintains the original brightness and the cool touch of stainless steel. Because of the good characteristics of stainless steel, the cost of raw materials is high.

Compared to other metals, the form and shape of stainless steel jewelry is more restricted. Despite the fact that it is a medium and high grade material, it is not traditionally used in fine jewelry, but in men’s jewelry like stainless steel rings, stainless steel bracelets and some brands of watches.

Stainless Steel Jewelry

4. Iron jewelry

We all know that iron is very easy to oxidize and rust so it’s relatively rare in jewelry. But sometimes there will be some sellers use the iron as small components to lower the cost.

The most well-known iron jewelry is Berlin Iron Jewelry, which were made during the early 19th century in Germany. And now, some people try to create a retro look like Berlin Iron Jewelry, which is popular nowadays.

iron jewelry

5. 925 Silver Jewelry

Silver is a popular metal used in jewelry. While we don’t use 100% pure silver to make jewelry because silver is too soft, softer than gold or platinum. So we often add 7.5% copper to sterling silver to improve its luster, brightness and hardness of the silver. And  we call this 92.5% pure silver 925 silver.

925 silver jewellery is a good choice among fashion jewelry because it looks high-grade.  No matter earrings, bracelets, necklaces or rings, 925 sterling silver jewelry is the most common and most popular. 

925 silver jewelry

6. Zircon/rhinestone/crystal Jewelry

No matter you go to Alibaba or Aliexpress to search fashion jewelry, You will find the price of the same style of jewelry is much different. A veteran will tell the difference between these shining transparent gemstone ingredients, but for the green hand, these shiny items can be quite confusing.

What is zircon? Are zircons the rhinestones, crystal or melee diamonds? Is Swarovski crystal the real crystal? I guess you feel confused now. Don’t worry, let me help you get them clear.


In fact, rhinestones are neither crystals, nor diamonds, but the diamond-like materials. The common materials of rhinestones includes glass, synthetic quartz, cubic zirconia and so on.  

The reason why we call it rhinestone is that the current world’s main man-made crystal manufacturing site is located in the north and south of the Rhine river. 

The rhinestones produced in the north is named Austrian crystal, which absorbed sufficient sunlight and has a shiny gloss. You guys must have heard about Swarovski crystal. It is the most famous Austrian crystal, which can be found on many of the world’s top clothing brands. The Czech crystal is produced in the South and it is less shiny than Austrian crystal.

Melee Diamond

Melee diamonds are not rhinestones, but the real diamonds. Generally speaking, Melee diamond refers to the diamond below 10 cents (0.1 carat), which is usually used as the decoration of high-grade jewelry, served as a foil to the main gem stone or to make a unique shape.

Most importantly, though a single melee damond won’t cost high, the melee diamonds are commonly set close together around the gem. This craft needs high multiple microscope manual inlay, so the cost of craft and material can be very high.


Zircon is probably the world’s most wronged gem. Why? Zircon is a natural gem but since a time people have tended to call all imitation diamonds zircons, thinking that zircons are cheap imitation diamonds. 

More and more fashion jewelry is embellished with zircon. AAA grade zircon is commonly used in the market for its better shine and quality. Of course, higher grade zircon will be more expensive.

Cubic Zirconia

It is a man-made compound, whose property is very close with the true diamond. It can be encashed on jewelry for long-term wear and it won’t be scratched and lose its luster. It is generally used in low grade or medium grade jewelry as a diamond substitute. 

jewelry material

After understanding the different properties of these materials, you can easily get their applications. Rhinestones are used in large area decoration for some fashion jewelry or costume jewelry, melee Diamonds are usually used for fine jewelry and zircons are suitable for some cost-effective fashion jewelry.

difference between daimond&cubic zirconic

It is difficult to distinguish these jewelry materials by appearance without optical instruments. So I have organized the physical parameters of these jewelry materials in the following table for your reference.

  Rhinestone Zircon
Hardness 06/07/16 7.5
Crystal Structure * Tetragonal
Refractive Index 1.5-1.7 1.92-2.01
Melting Point

130–140 °C




Cost Middle Middle-High
Cubic zirconia Diamond
8.5 10
Cube Lattice
2.088-2.176 2.417


(4976 °F)


(6422 °F)

Low High

Difference between crafts of rhinestones and zircons

Rhinestones inlay don’t need the copper base and the general alloy can satisfy its needs. The craft of alloy is simple and easy to copy, while Zircon must be inlaid with copper, which makes it delicate. Besides, the copper mold price is higher.

In recent years, micro paving is the most technique for inlaying zircons. Micro paving requires less claws to hold the zircon and allows more light to come in from all directions thus makes the zircon look brighter and more delicate.

7. Jewelry made in other cheap materials

With the increasing demand and the personal pursuit for fashion jewelry, many modern synthetic jewelry materials are widely applied in jewelry. Such as ceramics, acrylic, resin, leather, fiber, and so on. Among them, acrylic and resin are the most used. The most important characteristics of these materials is light and cheap, and that’s why they can become so popular as fashion jewelry

Acrylic Jewelry

As the“crystal”in plastic, acrylic has a transmittance up to 92%. Acrylic is cheap, and it  has a good surface hardness, luster and processing plasticity. So it can be shaped into all kinds of required shapes and forms. 

Resin Jewelry

  • Malleable: The plasticity of resin is extremely strong and it can be made into  various shapes.
  • Decorative: A high finish of the surface and fine surface.Its style, color or size can be designed as required.

In addition to other fashion jewelry material made in resin, the most common is resin diamond and it is characterized by its lightweight, moderate brightness and low price. So there is no doubt that it has become the most used material among costume jewelry.

resin diamond

You can find many other materials for fashion jewelry, but these 7 types of materials are the most confusing materials to our clients when customize jewelry, and also the most common in the market.

If you have any questions about fashion jewelry material or you want to wholesale jewelry making materials in bulk, welcome to contact us, we are ready to help you!