Choosing an engagement ring is an exciting experience. It is also, most probably, the most important jewellery purchase of your life.
While searching for the perfect ring, you will come across different precious metals. To avoid future disappointments with your purchase, it is essential to equip yourself with the necessary knowledge about the most commonly used metals in fine jewellery so as to make the right choice. One thing to keep in mind is that the metal you choose for the engagement ring, will dictate the choice of metal for any rings you will wear alongside it in the future, including the wedding ring.
Facts you should know on precious metals before your purchase
In a nutshell, there are 3 main different precious metals to consider when looking at engagement rings. These are:
Each of these metals possesses particular characteristics explored in some detail below.
Platinum is a naturally white metal that is very popular for diamond engagement rings and other fine jewellery. This is due to its whiteness. Unlike the other white metals used in jewellery, it does not discolour or dull with wear.
Platinum is an extremely rare metal and is the most valuable of the precious metals used in jewellery. Only a few hundred tonnes are produced annually, 80% of which are mined in South Africa. Compared to gold, the price of platinum can, at times, reach twice the price per gram.
Compared to other metals, platinum is both very hard and dense. Pure platinum is slightly harder than pure iron, making it ideal for diamond setting. Its density is 40% higher than that of gold and 65% higher than that of Palladium. These properties make platinum more durable than other jewellery metals. This is why every famous gemstone, from the Star of Africa to the Hope Diamond, is set in platinum.
The platinum used in fine jewellery is usually 950 Platinum. This means that the composition of the metal is 95% pure platinum mixed with 5% of other metals.
Because of its rarity and its market value, platinum has become a symbol of prestige. It is thus an ideal choice for an engagement ring, representing an expression of love that will last a lifetime.
White Gold facts
Gold has been considered a valuable and highly sought-after precious metal for centuries. Its soft and pliable properties make it ideal for manufacturing jewellery.
White gold is an alloy of gold. Its purity is measured in carat (ct). Pure gold is 24ct. The white gold that is used in fine jewellery is 18ct. 18ct white gold is composed of 75% pure gold and 25% white metals. Silver, palladium or nickel are such typical metals. The standard hallmark for denoting 18ct white gold is 750.
Gold is inherently yellow in colour. The 25% white metals added to produce 18ct white gold act as bleaching agents, producing a metal with a slight yellowish tint. To give it the desired white colour, the alloy is dipped into a bath of chemicals and an electric current is passed through it. This process is known as rhodium plating. Note that plating is not permanent and needs to be repeated to bring back the whiteness of the metal, as and when the plating wears out (typically every couple of years).
In comparison to platinum, the price of gold is much more stable. It is thus considered a safe investment. For this reason, the purchase of gold jewellery is always popular. Specifically 18ct white gold is very popular choice for diamond engagement rings as its whiteness helps reflect the radiance of diamonds.
Yellow Gold facts
Similarly to white gold, yellow gold is an alloy. The yellow gold that is used for diamond engagement rings is 18ct. The composition of 18ct yellow gold is 75% pure gold and 25% other metals. The standard hallmark for 18ct yellow gold is also 750.
Up until a few years, yellow gold wasn’t a popular choice for diamond engagement rings. However we have recently seen an increasing demand for diamond solitaires and trilogy engagement rings set in this precious metal. The resulting look is a traditional and classic one, which will always survive the test of time.
Our entire diamond engagement ring collection comes in 18ct white gold, 18ct yellow gold and 950 platinum. Simply select your metal of choice from the drop-down list on the page of your favourite ring design. If you need further advice, contact one of our friendly team on 0845 548 9858.