Choosing a metal, Gold, White or Platinum?
White gold, yellow gold and platinum are the most common metals for engagement and wedding rings. But which one should you choose? Here are some basics about these beautiful metals.
Currently the most popular metal for use in engagement rings, white gold is a shinny bright white/silver color similar to platinum but lighter in weight and lower in cost.
White gold is created by mixing yellow gold with “whitish” alloys such as palladium, manganese, or nickel. However, even after adding alloys the metal will retain a yellowish tint, so an additional rhodium plating is added to obtain the bright finish of white gold.
White gold is highly reflective and not subject to tarnish. Many feel that white gold enhances the natural white (clear) appearance of the diamond.
Diamond Solitaire in White Gold
Princess Cut Halo in White Gold
Depending on the wearer’s skin chemistry the rhodium plating will need to be re-plated every few years, otherwise the yellowish tint of the underlying metal will start to show through.
While not as popular as white gold, some people prefer yellow gold because they feel it “accents” the diamond better than other metals.
Diamond Solitaire in Yellow Gold
Princess Cut Halo in Yellow Gold
Yellow gold is a richly toned, shinny, durable metal that is typically alloyed with copper or zinc to give it added strength.
The tone of yellow gold looks good with a variety of people’s skin types, and most people have few problems with allergies.
Platinum is a very strong and dense metal which makes it ideal to use in jewelry. Unlike white gold, platinum is a naturally occurring white metal, so it does not have to be plated with rhodium in order to appear white. Platinum is more expensive than gold, often 30% to 50% more than the price of 18K gold.
Diamond Solitaire in Platinum
Princess Cut Halo in Platinum
Platinum is commonly combined with 5 percent iridium, palladium, ruthenium or other alloys. Like gold, platinum will scratch but is easily buffed without wearing down.
Over time, platinum develops a patina, a silvery gray tone, that is unique to this metal. Platinum is hypoallergenic, naturally white, and is heavier than white or yellow gold. Platinum is a strong metal and many gold rings use Platinum prongs because they hold the diamond better than gold prongs.
Rose gold is a combination of yellow gold and copper. Previously out of fashion, it is now coming back in style.
Diamond Solitaire in Rose Gold
Princess Cut Halo in Rose Gold
Rose gold has an old world feel and its warm and rosy hue works well with all types of skin tones. Read our Rose Gold Engagement Rings page for more information.
The purity of gold is measured in units called karats. Pure gold is 24 karats and has the deepest yellow color. When compared to gold alloyed with additional metals, pure gold is both more expensive and also less durable. Pure gold is mixed with different metals (alloys) in jewelry to add durability, strength and color variations.
The number of karats in a piece of jewelry determines the percentage of gold it contains: 100% is 24 karats, 75% is 18 karats, and 58% is 14 karat gold. When evaluating gold jewelry, the more karats, the greater the value of the piece. Also, in general, the heavier the piece the more gold it contains.
For women who prefer yellow gold jewelry, 18k rings will have a deeper and more vivid coloring than 14k gold rings. As a result, 18k yellow gold is much more popular than 14k for engagement rings. In fact, higher end jewelers tend to carry their yellow gold engagement ring settings mostly in 18k.
For white gold it’s not so clear since both 14k and 18k rings are plated with a rhodium coating. Some feel that 14k white gold has a number of advantages over 18k white gold. First, it’s somewhat less expensive. Second, it’s a harder metal so it should be more durable. Lastly, in 14k, the underlying metal is “whiter” than 18k, so wear in the rhodium coating should be less noticeable. Higher end jewelers tend to carry an equal number of 14k and 18k white gold engagement ring settings.