When it comes to engagement rings, diamonds seem to get the limelight. But the metal you choose for the ring and setting deserve just as much attention. After all, the metal determines so much about a ring's style and longevity.
Before you start shopping, spend a few minutes learning about the different metal options on the market today. Each metal has unique traits, and when you understand the pros and cons of each, you'll make a better decision.
You're probably acquainted with the precious metals that are commonly used for engagement rings: gold, platinum, palladium and sterling silver. We’ll also look at a few alternative metals that are showing up more and more in wedding jewellery.
Not only is yellow gold a traditional favourite for engagement rings, but it also wears well and is easy to repair. Since engagement rings are worn everyday, yellow gold's durability is an important attribute.
Pure gold (24-carat) is too soft to be shaped into rings, so jewellers combine it with other metals, such as silver, copper and zinc. Gold makes up 75 percent of 18-karat gold and 37.5 percent of 9-karat gold. The highest percentage of gold you're likely to see in wedding jewellery is 22-karat, which is 91.6 percent pure gold.
Becoming more and more popular, rose gold is a mixture of pure gold and copper. The metal takes on a reddish hue, which it gleans from the copper, and it's often seen in engagement rings that combine more than one metal for detailing.
White gold is actually yellow gold that is alloyed with white metals to give it that silvery white colouring. Platinum and palladium in varying percentages are widely used.Additionally, most white gold is given a rhodium plating finish for a hard, reflective shine. Unfortunately, the rhodium plating can wear off over time. Even so, white gold continues to be an engagement ring favourite.
Hard, heavy and durable, platinum is the most expensive precious metal commonly used in engagement rings. With its brilliant satin finish, platinum has a luxe appearance. It also feels expensive on the hand because it’s so heavy. As a bonus, platinum has hypoallergenic properties; it's perfect for people with extra sensitive skin.
From the same family as platinum, palladium also has a bright finish, but it's much more affordable. Because of its lower cost, palladium is often found in larger rings that would be too expensive to execute in platinum.
Like gold, silver is too soft to be crafted into jewellery without the addition of harder metals. Sterling silver is usually 92.5 percent pure silver; copper or another metal make up the rest. Slightly greyer than platinum and palladium, sterling silver has a beauty of its own.
Three times stronger than steel, titanium is perfect for everyday wear. Not only does it withstand scratches, but it retains its silvery shine as well. Much lighter than many other metals, titanium feels very light on your hand. Because of its strength, it's often used in tension settings.
With so many attractive metals to choose from, making a decision can be difficult. If you've created a budget for your engagement ring purchase, the following information can be useful.
Metal prices fluctuate due to market demand and other factors, but the following divisions will give you a general idea of the prices for each metal.
You'll pay a premium for precious metals that are in high demand, but these metals also tend not just to hold their value but increase over time.
- Yellow Gold
- White Gold
- Rose Gold
In the mid-range, you'll find metals that are not in demand as much. Silver requires a bit more maintenance than most metals, so some people shy away from using it in engagement rings. Other metals in this category are less traditional or not as well known.
- Sterling Silver
These lower-cost metals are every bit as durable as more expensive metals, but they're newer to the jewellery market. As such, they don't carry the same prestige, but they make beautiful, durable rings.
White gold has dominated the engagement ring trends for the past couple of decades. Its white, glossy surface compliments diamonds perfectly, and today you'll still find a vast selection of white gold rings in most jewellery stores.
But yellow gold is making a definite comeback. With celebrities like Meghan Markle, Kirsten Dunst, Miley Cyrus and Mary-Kate Olsen sporting yellow gold engagement rings, jewellers are finding that demand is running high.
Another exciting trend is the use of rose gold, both as the sole metal and for accents. When paired with pink-hued Morganite, rose gold is beautiful.
Mixed metals are also trending for engagement rings. Celebrities such as Isla Fisher, Keira Knightly and Kate Middleton are all wearing wedding bands made from different metals than their engagement rings. And the new trend of ring stacking adds to the fun.
With a well-designed ring stack, you could wear several different metals at the same time, which makes coordinating with your other jewellery much more straightforward.
Before purchasing an engagement ring, think carefully about how the ring will fit with your loved one's lifestyle.
A person's life may dictate what kind of metal you choose. For instance, someone with very little time will probably want a low-maintenance metal that never has to be polished. Sterling silver would not be the best choice in this case.
People who work with their hands or interact with children may prefer a ring made of a tough metal like platinum, palladium or cobalt. These harder metals resist scratches and dents while still retaining their shine. An active lifestyle doesn’t have to interfere with wearing beautiful jewellery.
Try to find out if your loved one has a preference for any of the metals mentioned above. It's also helpful to coordinate the metal with other important jewellery pieces in her collection. She'll be more likely to wear her favourite pieces when they match her engagement ring.
Protect Your Metal
Whatever you choose, be sure to cover it with JewelCover jewellery insurance. If the ring becomes damaged, lost or stolen, you'll be able to return to your original jeweller for replacement or repairs.