Once upon a time, all engagement rings
were gold. After all, gold is the precious metal of choice in all fairy tales and movies—who ever heard of the princess and her platinum tiara, or the thief making off with bags of palladium? But in the twenty-first century, only a minority of engagement rings and other bridal jewelry pieces are made with classic yellow gold. If you are in the market to buy an engagement ring, wedding band, or anniversary band, you need to know the difference between all these ring metals.
Gold in all its varied forms is still the most popular metal for bridal jewelry. Gold is a naturally yellow-colored metal that while shiny and lustrous, is too soft in its pure form for use in jewelry. Therefore, all gold, even yellow gold, that is used in bridal jewelry is alloyed with other metals to make it harder and/or to change the color. The purity of gold is measured in karats (not to be confused with the carat used to measure the weight of a diamond), with pure gold being 24 karat. Most fine with most bridal jewelry being either 14 or 18 karat gold, containing 58.33% and 75% pure gold respectively.
is comprised of pure gold mixed with silver, zinc and copper. It has the rich yellow color traditionally associated with gold jewelry and looks best with colored gemstones and yellow diamonds. Some people stay away from yellow gold as a ring setting metal because the color can detract from the whiteness of the diamond, but others value its rich vintage appeal.
is one of the most popular metals for rings. It is made by combining pure gold with white metals such as nickel, silver or palladium. White gold is reasonably priced, but has the same bright appeal as the more expensive platinum. However, white gold jewelry that is worn everyday, like engagement rings, will need more maintenance than other jewelry pieces to maintain its bright white shine. White gold items require plating with rhodium in order to achieve a high white luster. Re- plating may be required from time to time.
is less common, but is another creative use of gold alloy. Rose gold consists of pure gold mixed with copper, producing a durable metal with a distinct pink tint. As it was popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, rose gold is most often used in antique-style jewelry.
Yellow gold can also be combined with different metals to create specialty gold colors like green, blue and even purple. However, these hues are uncommon.
is a rare and intrinsically white metal that has some excellent properties for use in jewelry. Jewelry “purists” like the fact that it is used in almost pure form (90-95%). It is also denser than gold alloys giving it a heftier, richer feel. Platinum is extremely durable and will not wear away and become thin, and because it is naturally white it does not require plating. Platinum is in some ways more difficult to work with than gold alloys requiring more skill and attention in the manufacturing process. Despite the fact that this all adds up to platinum being significantly more expensive than gold alloys today, it is one of the most desired ring metals for engagement rings.
No matter what metal you choose for your engagement ring, gold and platinum provide a long-lasting and beautiful accompaniment to your diamond.