When it comes to picking out an engagement ring, much attention is given to the design and stone that are selected. The metal that will be used can however be just as important and these days goes far beyond just a choice between white or gold. There are several other options with varied colour effects that are worth considering whose qualities and cost we will discuss to help give you a better idea as to what makes for the best fit when picking out engagement rings for sale at our Glasgow based jewellers.
Which metal is best for an engagement ring?
Gold is the most classic and common choice for jewellry, including wedding and engagement rings. It comes in several colour variations, with white, yellow, and rose gold being the most popular. Its standard measurement is karat, which should not be confused with carat used for measuring diamonds. Gold karats are divided into 24 parts with the purest gold measuring 24 karats. This means 24 out of 24 parts are gold.
Some mistakenly believe that the higher the karats, the better or more luxurious the gold. However, pure gold tends to be too soft to be used on its own for jewellry. It needs to be combined with harder metal alloys that can strengthen it. Typically, the lower the karats, the lower the fold content and the more durable the metal.
Some of the metal alloys that are often added to gold include copper, silver, and zinc. The more metal alloy that is added, the lower the karats. 18K gold will have 75% gold while 10K gold will have 42% gold. The choice of alloy metal is often guided by what colour of jewellry that is desired.
White gold has a silvery white appearance that comes from combining gold with zinc, copper, silver, nickel, or palladium. It is then coated with rhodium to give it a gleaming white appearance, make it scratch resistant, and harden it. With time this coating can become worn and require the owner to return the piece to the jeweller for re-plating.
White gold is a popular choice for engagement rings thanks to its bright appearance that complements many designs and gemstone choices. It is also an affordable option, though more expensive than the choice of yellow gold. Not to mention that if your budget is tight you can opt for fewer karats. Visually, you can hardly tell the difference between an 18K and 9K white gold ring.
This choice lets you know on sight that you are looking at gold jewellry. Its rich yellow colour is representative of the precious metal that is universally known and valued. This colour does not fade despite most rings being made from 18K and 9K gold. 18K gold contains 75% pure gold while 9K gold contains 37.5% pure gold. Metal alloys like copper, silver platinum, zinc, and palladium are added to harden it and enhance its hue. For instance, the red in copper and the green of silver can help gold attain a certain warm patina.
18K gold is considered more valuable as it has a higher pure gold content, richer yellow colouring, is heavier, and has a more luxurious feel. 9K gold, with its slightly paler hue, is still a good choice as it is more affordable and quite beautiful.
Rose gold metal has a warm pink hue that primarily comes from adding copper alloy that is red-toned. Silver may also be added to tone down the red. Hence you will find that 18K rose gold has a richer colour than 9K rose gold. 18K rose gold will also feel heavier and more luxurious than 9K rose gold as it has a higher content of pure gold.
This choice of metal is more popular amongst people that like a vintage look that is considered romantic. Unlike white gold which requires coating, rose gold is more solid and does not tarnish with time. The copper in the metal may however cause the rose gold to become redder with time. This is a desired effect for many who love this colour as it gives a more vintage feel.
Platinum is a highly luxurious choice as it is one of the rarest and most expensive metals on earth. It is also one of the strongest metals that ensures jewellry made from it can last several lifetimes. Its durability has encouraged its use in even cheaper rings as prongs that can better secure gemstones.
Its naturally white colour is highly prized as it does not easily fade with time and does not require coating. It is a perfect complement for gemstones like diamonds as it allows their brilliance and sparkle to shine radiantly. Platinum is considered the top choice for engagement rings and it is usually the most expensive choice.
Due to its durability, it is ideal for wearers that have an active lifestyle and want jewellry that can withstand exposure. Its setting is the most secure for gemstones and it is a hypoallergenic metal that suits all skin types.
Named for the Titans of Greek mythology, titanium is another hardy metal that has grown popular for men's rings. It benefits from being lightweight, a quality that makes it easy for someone not used to rings to easily adapt. It is a scratch-resistant metal that is durable and easy to maintain, making it well suited to rings that need to endure daily wear.
Titanium is naturally hypoallergenic and thus suitable for all skin types. It is however difficult to resize so ensure you use the right measurements when being made. This can however also make it less than ideal for lifetime use as a person’s weight fluctuates with time.
With its natural lustrous white appearance, silver was once considered even more valuable than gold. However, on its own, the pure metal is very soft and can become easily bendable. This is not ideal for finger jewellry, hence the reason it is also often combined with other metal alloys just as with gold. When combined with other metal alloys like copper, it becomes the more durable sterling silver.
Sterling silver has an appealing white glow that can complement many gemstone settings. However, even with the mixing in of other metal alloys, sterling silver remains a softer metal than other choices on this list and can become easily tarnished with time. It is a cheaper metal but not highly recommended for engagement rings. It should ideally be used for fashion jewellry that will only be occasionally worn and stored in protective bags. Ensure this jewellry is stored in a clean and dry space, and that the jewellry is regularly cleaned and polished.
This is another shiny white-hued metal that looks very similar to platinum. It is an affordable alternative that also has a brilliant look. It is lightweight and comfortable, making it suited to someone who leads an active lifestyle.
It is slightly harder than platinum and just as durable. It is a hypoallergenic metal suited to all skin types. It is a scratch-resistant metal that retains its naturally bright colour well and therefore does not require coating. Palladium is cheaper than platinum, but also more expensive than white gold.
Tungsten has a natural gunmetal grey colour. It can, however, be plated to create other colour variations including white, gold, and black-looking metal. It is a highly durable and strong metal that makes it easy to maintain. Though it is four times harder than titanium, it can also be brittle meaning that with a strong enough knock, it could cause the metal to crack or break.
It is a more affordable metal than platinum and gold, mainly thanks to the fact that it is a newer metal in the market and thus does not hold cash value as well as gold. Tungsten also has the same weight and feel as platinum and gold. It is also naturally hypoallergenic and thus suitable for wear by those with even sensitive skin. Its hardiness however also makes resizing extremely difficult
Consider her style
An engagement ring is a piece of jewellry that will be worn for many years by the recipient. It should be of a design that she will be comfortable, confident, and happy to wear and cherish. Therefore, it is vital that you try and pay attention to what kind of jewellry she likes and pick out a ring that will complement this style.
Consider the choice of metals above and focus on colours that dominate in her jewellry box. If she has no strong preference, you can consider mixing complementary metals like white and yellow gold. This will allow her more flexibility in how she mixes and matches the ring with her other jewellry pieces.
You will also need to consider what best fits your budget and what kind of lifestyle she leads. The more active a lifestyle, the more you should veer towards hardier choices like platinum and palladium. Ensure that when working on your budget, you also consider the cost of the gemstones and workmanship.