It’s only fitting that your most precious piece of jewellery be made of a precious metal. A wedding or engagement ring is a symbol of love that is meant to last a lifetime. The metal has to be as durable as it is beautiful. There’s more than one choice out there!
Today’s wedding jewellery came from the traditions of many ancient peoples. We still use many of the same materials. Our tools and technology also allow us to finely craft additional metals like titanium and tungsten as well as gold and platinum. Any of these could be a good choice for your rings. Here are a few things to consider about metals.
Gold has been treasured from antiquity for its shiny, warm yellow hue. It won’t tarnish and is easy to shape. However, it’s also soft and easily damaged when pure. Gold must be combined with an alloy (typically a combination of silver, nickel, copper and zinc) to make it strong enough to withstand every day wear. The ratio of pure gold to alloy is measured in karats and the alloy gives the gold its colour.
- 24 karat. Pure or 24 of 24 parts gold.
- 18 karat. About 75% pure gold.
- 14 karat. About 58% pure.
- 10 karat. About 42% pure.
The warm lustre of yellow gold comes from the combination of copper and silver. White gold’s silvery tone is from zinc, nickel and a perhaps an additional coating of rhodium. The pinkish cast of rose gold comes from copper in the mix. Add silver for the green gold found in tricolour pieces.
Gold’s softness is its primary drawback. It can dent or bend and isn’t always repairable. Surface scratches can be improved with polishing.
Once thought to be an undesirable impurity in silver, platinum wasn’t recognized as an element until the 18th century. Until the earlier part of the 20th century, platinum was the metal of choice for fine jewellery. It was taken off the market for a while and reserved for military uses. That shows how durable it is! Gold took over as the most popular choice for a few decades in its absence only for platinum to jump ahead once more.
Platinum has a soft silvery hue. It’s a very dense and naturally white metal that is 30 times rarer than gold and about 40% heavier than 14 karat gold. It doesn’t tarnish or oxidize but it can become scratched and dulled from wear, which will require re-polishing or coating. In order to be sold as platinum, a purity of at least 95% is required.
The ability to finely work harder metals has resulted in a number of non-traditional options for today’s buyer. Here are a few of the less-common metals you may see.
- Silver has long been used in jewellery-making but is typically not considered valuable enough for wedding rings. It’s also soft and easily damaged which isn’t a good choice of setting for a precious engagement diamond.
- Hypoallergenic and exceptionally strong, this white metal is often used in men’s rings since it’s so lightweight and durable. It’s a good choice for hardworking hands.
- Also hypoallergenic, this silvery metal is a darker and even stronger that titanium. It’s so strong it cannot be resized but need almost no maintenance.
- This metal resembles platinum but is harder. It’s also heavier than the other non-traditional metals for those who want a more substantial feel to their ring but can be resized.
- This silver-white metal is in the same family as platinum. It’s harder, rarer and much more expensive. It’s actually the most expensive precious metal and thus typically only used as a thin coating on other metals.
The metal is equally important as the stones in your engagement and wedding rings. Choose the right metal for your style as well as your lifestyle to create a ring that lasts a lifetime.