Engagement Rings 101

What’s the Best Engagement Ring Metal? Engagement Ring Metals Pros and Cons

The easiest part of the engagement ring to choose is the metal band. No, not that metal band. We mean the color of the ring band.

This is the easiest part of the ring to choose because women tend to be very specific about the metal color they prefer. There are 2 main categories: gold or silver. And usually, a woman who likes to wear gold won’t be so keen on silver and a woman who prefers to wear silver will not wear gold.

Observe the color of jewelry your wife-to-be usually wears to see what her preference is. If she doesn’t wear jewelry or is one of the rare women who mix gold and silver, ask her friends and family for help on her preferences or find out yourself.

See tips on how to find out her ring style without her knowing.

Once you’ve decided to opt for gold or silver, a few more choices present themselves.

Tip: Remember that the wedding band will have to match the engagement ring band and that your wedding band will probably have to match your wife’s. A good thing to keep in mind if you don’t want to go around wearing a rose gold ring for the rest of your life.

Various Shades of Gold

Gold typically comes in 3 colors: yellow, rose, and white. You can see the difference below.

engagement ring metals

The most expensive of the gold rings is pure gold, which is 24 karat. From there it goes down to 22 karat (92% gold), 18 karat (75% gold), 14 karat (58% gold) and 9 karat (38% gold).

When the gold ring is not pure gold (24 karat), it just means it’s been mixed with alloys. Obviously, the mixture makes the lower karat rings cheaper. It also affects its appearance, meaning it may not be so yellow as a 24 karat ring (not a bad thing at all, especially if she’s not into very yellow gold).

Note: The best thing about gold rings (excluding white gold) is that they don’t tarnish or rust. They don’t lose any of their brilliance. Ever.

White gold looks like silver and that’s because the most expensive kinds of white gold are made of yellow gold mixed with silver. But that’s not the only way to make white gold – white gold can be a mixture of yellow gold with various other white metals. See below (under “Silver” options) for more information on white gold.

Rose gold is made using a mix of pure gold with copper, which gives it the rosy, reddish color. Zinc is sometimes added to enhance the color as well.

Tip: If you decide to go with gold, we recommend that you opt for an 18 karat ring over a cheaper 9 karat or 14 karat ring since 18karat gold tends to hold up better to everyday wear.

Various Types of Silver

When you opt to buy a silver ring, keep in mind that actual silver is not your only option. Silver colored rings can be made of platinum, palladium, white gold, or silver.

Let’s go over these metals in a little more detail…

Platinum 

It’s typically believed that when it comes to silver-colored jewelry, platinum is the best. What you should keep in mind, though, is that platinum is the most expensive silver-colored metal and whereas it might make sense to buy a platinum engagement band, you might also be buying two platinum wedding bands afterwards and that will definitely add up.

That being said, platinum is a great choice for delicate pieces of jewelry, simply because platinum is the hardest metal used in jewelry. For a fine, delicate ring – platinum will give it durability and strength.

Another great thing about platinum is that it doesn’t tarnish easily, but – and this is a big BUT – you should keep in mind that platinum rings are usually rhodium-plated to improve their appearance. The rhodium-plating will fade in time, giving the platinum ring a dull, greyness and prompting you to take a trip to the jeweler for a fresh coating.

Tip: The best time to buy platinum is during a financial crisis or recession, when platinum prices typically fall compared to gold. When times are good, platinum can be twice the cost of gold.

Palladium

Palladium is a relatively new alternative and as a result, less well-known than platinum. It’s cheaper and lighter than platinum, but similar to platinum when it comes to its malleability, color, and resistance to tarnishing.

Unlike platinum, palladium is not a good option for delicate rings with fine details.

White Gold

As mentioned above, white gold is an alloy, or a mixture of gold with at least one white metal. The metal can be nickel, palladium, silver, or manganese.

White gold won’t tarnish, but keep in mind that white gold rings are usually rhodium-plated to improve its appearance. This plating will wear off with time and you’ll begin to see the yellowish gold color showing through, at which point you’ll have to get it re-plated.

White gold comes in 9 karat, 14 karat, and 18 karat and all of these are cheaper than platinum.

Silver

Silver is the cheapest option of the metals but it’s not really an ideal metal for an engagement ring because it has a tendency to tarnish. It is not as lasting as the other options above and won’t hold up to everyday wear as well as the above options.

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