Engagement Ring Metals—The Basics You Should Know
Gold is one of the most popular precious metals used to make jewelry and especially engagement and wedding rings. Gold is naturally yellow in color but is combined or “alloyed” with other metals for strength and to provide different color options like green and white and rose/pink gold. 24 karat gold is pure gold. 18 karat means it is18 parts gold and 6 parts of some other metal—in other words it is 75 percent gold and the rest is something else.
What you should know about gold:
White gold is sometimes made by plating yellow gold with rhodium, so over time it may wear away and leave its original yellow color visible again. Rose gold is made by combining yellow gold with copper and is both attractive and durable.
Platinum is both rare (30 times rarer than gold) and consequently more expensive. It is usually found in a form that is 95 percent pure which makes it highly durable and means its color won’t fade or tarnish.
Platinum’s purity makes it very hypoallergenic and causes few allergic reactions to skin. Over time platinum can develop a patina that is quite pleasing. It can also be re-polished to a high sheen if desired.
Sterling silver is 92.5 percent silver, the rest composed of various alloys. (Fine silver is 99.9 percent silver.) Sterling silver jewelry made in the US is usually stamped “sterling” and in other parts of the world a “925” marking is often used. It is more affordable than gold and much more affordable than platinum.
Sterling silver jewelry may have a tendency to tarnish. Sterling silver rings should be cleaned frequently. Skin moisture interacting with sterling silver jewelry can leave green stains on skin (due to the copper component of the silver alloy).
Palladium is a lustrous, white metal often used as an alloy with yellow gold to make white gold.
Palladium is very similar to platinum and is also very hypoallergenic. It is also less dense than platinum, making it less costly. It has a darker, more grayish hue compared to platinum.
Titanium is a silvery-colored metal whose use in engagement and wedding rings—especially as wedding bands for men—has increased greatly in recent years.
It is an extremely tough metal; it is stronger and harder than gold or platinum. It will not tarnish or corrode or rust and isn’t easily scratched or gouged. It is lighter than either gold or platinum and is very hypoallergenic. Men love titanium’s rugged reputation for durability and toughness and its minimal needs for maintenance or upkeep.
We live in the age of recycling and re-purposing and of being more environmentally conscious. A growing trend is using recycled metals like gold and platinum in new alloys to make jewelry like wedding rings.
Some consider recycled metal rings the most eco-friendly and conflict-free option of all. Do a little research yourself and you may conclude that recycled metal rings are the best fit for you, too.