It’s easy to find beautiful engagement rings. The challenge is to find rings that are durable, budget-friendly, and (okay, we’ll say it) the rings of your dreams. To learn how you can find the perfect wedding rings that will last a lifetime - at a price that fits your budget - narrow your search to rings made of precious metals that are in your price range.
In the lower end of the price range, the challenge is finding durable rings. It’s easy to focus all of your attention on the style and the gems. But don’t ignore the metals. When it comes to durability, metals matter enormously.
Not all metals hold up well over time. Some get scratched easily. Others are brittle. Fortunately, several gorgeous metals fall into the inexpensive category that will provide years of effortlessly beautiful wear and tear. Let’s take a closer look at them. We’ve only included metals here that hold up well over time.
If you’re working with a small budget, steel can be an excellent option. It’s relatively strong and durable and has scratch-resistance properties. As a bonus, stainless steel is hypo-allergenic, perfect for those with sensitive skin.
Stainless steel works exceptionally well for men’s wedding bands because it’s strong and masculine. Look for subtle textures, brushed finishes and mixed-metal designs (such as a rose gold stripe down the centre of a steel wedding band).
Tungsten wedding bands are quickly growing in popularity, and for good reason. Tungsten carbide is scratch-resistant, hypo-allergenic and exceptionally strong. Unlike some other traditional jewellery metals, tungsten doesn’t tarnish. If you like the feeling of a heavy ring on your finger (similar to gold and platinum), tungsten might be the metal for you.
Tungsten comes in a natural gunmetal grey colour, but jewellers can plate it to appear black, white or even gold. Keep in mind that because of tungsten’s toughness, jewellers cannot resize rings made from this metal, so you must get the right size from the start.
Similar in strength and weight to tungsten, zirconium has a greyish-white lustrous appearance, perfect for both men’s wedding bands and women’s engagement rings. Zirconium also has the same hypo-allergenic properties as titanium.
When it’s heat-treated, zirconium forms a deep silky black oxide coating that is scratch resistant and eye-catching. Jewellers usually call this Black Zirconium, and it’s quite popular for men’s wedding bands.
Many jewellers love working with titanium. It’s incredibly strong and durable, and it can take on many different shades, from deep onyx to lustrous white. Hypo-allergenic and surprisingly lightweight, titanium is more robust than both gold and platinum.
People have been making jewellery from silver for thousands of years. Because it’s so malleable, jewellers love working with it. Silver makes beautiful rings, and it’s quite inexpensive, but it does have a couple of drawbacks.
Silver scratches more easily than other metals, and it tarnishes as well. Many jewellers will plate silver with rhodium to prevent tarnish and protect its surface from scratches.
If you’re willing to spend a bit more on your engagement ring, consider one of the following precious metals.
A more affordable alternative to platinum and white gold, palladium has been used in jewellery since 1939. Why that year, you might ask? Governments needed platinum for building arms in World War II, so platinum jewellery production came to a screeching halt. The alternative? Palladium, an element in the platinum family that shares its sister’s gorgeous white colouring and durable properties.
Because its white properties occur naturally, palladium doesn’t have to be plated with rhodium to achieve its colouring, as is the case for white gold. That means it’s low-maintenance, tarnish-resistant, electrically stable and resistant to chemical erosion.
Another terrific option? Engagement rings made with 14k gold. Warm and sunny yellow gold hearkens back to traditional wedding jewellery. And we’re seeing a resurgence in the popularity of this classic metal.
Rings like this two-tone Low Modern Engagement Ring by Melbourne Diamond Importers capture the essence of yellow gold in a whole new way. Since pure gold is too soft for everyday wear, jewellers must combine it with other metals like copper, silver, nickel and zinc. Because of its composition, some people find that their skin is sensitive to it.
Although many 10k gold rings are available for lower-priced wedding rings, be careful when shopping for 10k rings. Too often, rings made with 10k gold exhibit shoddy workmanship for long term durability, it is best to stick with 14k or even 18k gold.
Over the past couple of decades, white gold has dominated the engagement ring market. The metal’s subtle white sheen perfectly complements colourless diamonds. You might say that diamonds and white gold are a match made in heaven.
Since nature only produces gold in yellow, jewellers have to plate it with rhodium to make it white. And rhodium plating eventually wears off. So if you opt for white gold, realise that you’ll probably have to replate the engagement ring at some point down the road.
Feminine and attention-grabbing, rose gold is an alloy created from yellow gold and copper. It looks particularly intriguing when paired with rosy gems like morganite. This mid-range metal has been trending for wedding jewellery and luxury watches the last couple of years.
Many rose gold engagement rings carry a vintage appeal, like this handmade rose gold Hepburn ring from Simon West Jewellery.
To pull out all the stops, purchase an engagement ring made of the world’s most luxurious precious metals.
Its very name sounds luxurious. Because of platinum’s hardness, rarity and naturally white sheen that never fades or changes colour, it’s the most sought-after metal for engagement rings.
As you can see, engagement rings shoppers have plenty of fabulous choices when it comes to metals. If you want to choose a showstopping diamond, you might want to opt for a less expensive metal, such as palladium or titanium. If she wants a narrow band, a more expensive metal might work best.