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Engagement ring shoppers often focus on diamonds, and for good reason. As the ring’s centrepiece, that stunning sparkler deserves substantial consideration. How large will it be? What shape best suits the wearer and the ring itself? How much diamond can you afford?
But before you start shopping, consider metal as well. A ring’s metal determines so much:
In this article, we’ll look at the most common metals used in engagement rings. With a solid understanding of each metal’s qualities, you’ll wow her with a ring that perfectly suits her tastes and lifestyle.
The most common engagement ring metals on the market today: white gold, yellow gold, rose gold, platinum, palladium and titanium. Let’s jump in!
For years now, white gold has dominated the engagement ring market. With its colourless lustre and classic elegance, this metal effortlessly complements diamonds.
White gold and platinum are practically indistinguishable, but chemically, they’re quite different. In Australia, most white gold manufacturers use 75 parts yellow gold and 25 parts of a mixture of palladium and silver. The gold is then plated with rhodium, which is a high-quality liquid metal that creates that white, platinum look.
As you shop for white gold, be aware of differences in alloy. For example, in America, some white gold engagement rings consist of 58.5% yellow gold combined with nickel, which is an inexpensive metal prone to cracking.
Over time, the rhodium plating can dull a bit, but you can have your piece replated to restore its original colour and lustre.
After going out of style for a couple of decades, yellow gold is seeing a resurgence in popularity, especially when it comes to engagement rings. With celebrities like Meghan Markle and Emily Ratajkowski sporting yellow gold rings, we expect this trend to continue.
Pure gold is too soft for jewellery, so when you buy a gold engagement ring, you’re really purchasing a mixture of gold and other metals, usually silver, copper and zinc. The higher the carat, the more pure gold is contained in the metal. For example, 18-carat gold contains 75.5% pure gold, and 22-carat gold has 91.75% pure gold.
When it comes to yellow gold, you’ll want to strike a balance between colour and practicality. While 22-carat gold boasts a gorgeous almost orangey colour, it’s highly susceptible to scratches and dents.
Because yellow gold has been a favourite metal throughout history, engagement rings made from this precious metal retain a classic, distinctive style. Unlike white gold, yellow gold is not plated with another metal, and therefore, it will wear more naturally and require less maintenance in the long run.
Another gold alloy that perfectly suits engagement ring jewellery is rose gold, made by combining yellow gold with copper. Also known as pink gold, red gold and blush gold, this metal can range from dusky pink to orange-yellow to a bright red-orange.
Romantic rose gold first appeared on the scene in Russia in the 19th century. Carl Faberge (famous for Faberge Eggs) first used the metal and dubbed it “Russian Gold.” The metal trended in the 1920s, as jewellery became more feminine and lavish, and today it’s back!
Fortunately, rose gold is quite durable because of its copper content, and it doesn’t tarnish. However, rose gold tends to darken as it ages, giving it a vintage feel.
Unlike the gold alloys, platinum is a very pure metal. In most cases, platinum manufacturers use 92% purity with a bit of palladium in it. In some cases, the alloy contains up to 98% platinum.
It’s an incredibly resilient metal, making it utterly suitable for a piece of jewellery that will be worn day in and day out. In fact, in the old days when rings were made mostly of 18-carat yellow gold, the top was often made in platinum because it held the diamond so securely. As a bonus, that whiteness made the stone appear larger.
On the downside, platinum is a soft metal. To polish platinum and get that really high sheen, you have to work it very slowly and carefully, which makes it a labour-intensive process. Because of the metal’s purity and labour-intensive work, it’s quite expensive. But it maintains its colour well and never has to be replated.
If you love the look of platinum but don’t want to spend so much on your ring’s metal, you might want to consider palladium. It has that same silvery-white sheen that is prized by platinum fans, and it actually comes from the same metal family. Also, like platinum, palladium is 95% pure, so you have a higher content of precious metals in your engagement ring.
Palladium doesn’t require a rhodium coating like white gold, so you don’t have to worry about it losing its lustre over time, and it’s lighter in weight than platinum, for those who don’t like to wear a massive ring.
Palladium can be an excellent choice for those who want to spend more on gemstones than they do on the metal.
Extremely lightweight and very strong, titanium has been making waves in the wedding jewellery industry. It’s a slightly darker metal, and for this reason, many men prefer its masculine appearance for their own wedding rings.
In engagement rings, titanium provides an exciting contrast to bright, white diamonds. It’s a less expensive alternative to platinum, and because it’s so strong, you can count on its durability. Titanium’s strength does have its downside, however; it can’t be resized!
With so many beautiful metals to choose from, how will you ever make a decision?
As you consider your options, ask yourself the following questions:
Sometimes, it’s just too difficult to choose one metal. In this case, consider buying a ring that features more than one!
Mixed metal engagement rings are having a moment. Incorporating several metals (such as rose gold and white gold) into your ring offers a refreshing design. One advantage of wearing a mixed-metal engagement ring is that your ring will always match your earrings, bracelets and other jewellery.
By carefully considering your engagement ring metal options, you’ll choose a ring that suits her lifestyle and preferences as well as your budget. And don’t forget to protect that carefully selected ring with Q Report jewellery insurance. If anything happens to the ring, you can return to your original jeweller for repairs or replacement. Get in touch with us to learn more about how we can protect the things you love.