Women generally have very strong preferences for the type of metal their engagement and wedding rings are made of. Some women choose based on what is popular, or fashionable, at the time. Others chose a metal that is consistent with their fashionable jewelry, whether it is solid or plated, and set with real or artificial stones.
Recently, it has become fashionable with engagement rings to wear a mix of metals rather than all white, gold or rose. This has opened up more options for women when choosing their wedding sets and many are taking advantage of this.
But before you choose a metal, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the properties, durability and what it takes to keep the different metals clean and looking the best they can.
A popular choice for engagement and wedding ring sets for many years, white gold is set to soon become the first choice for young brides. White gold is available in either 14 or 18 karat versions. A 14 karat gold ring contains 58.5% yellow gold and 41.5% base metals such as nickel, zinc, silver and/or palladium. Rings labeled 18 karat white gold contain 75% yellow gold and 25% of the same base metals used in 14 karat white gold.
The base metals that are alloyed with yellow gold are what give white gold its light, silvery color. Often plated with a member of the platinum family known as rhodium, white gold then takes on an even whiter appearance. The rhodium plating also protects it from losing its white color. This color loss is common in white gold jewelry, especially when it is worn all the time.
White gold engagement rings do not tarnish but can begin to develop a yellowish tint as the yellow gold rears its superiority over the alloys and begins showing on the surface of the ring. You can easily restore the whiteness of white gold by having it plated with rhodium by your jeweler.
Caring for Your White Gold Jewelry
Clean your white gold jewelry with mild soap and warm water. Use a soft, non-metallic brush to remove surface dirt. Dry with a soft, lint-free cloth. Do not use paper towels to dry your jewelry. The fibers contained in them can scratch the surface. Remove your rings when using harsh cleaners like bleach or ammonia or when swimming in a pool containing chlorine.
The most popular and common of the three colors of gold, yellow gold is the metal's natural color. It does not tarnish. Unlike white gold, the surface color will remain pure for the life of the ring. Pure gold is classified as 24 karat gold but it is too soft to use in making jewelry. Made into 18 karat gold, it is combined with a mixture of 25% silver and copper along, with 75% by mass of 24 karat gold. The most popular mixture of gold used for jewelry is 14 karat, which is a mixture of 58.3% gold and 41.7% silver and copper. This produces a metal alloy hard enough for everyday wear and tear and is used to make everything from rings to bracelets to necklaces to earrings. Rarely used in wedding sets, 10 karat gold is comprised of only 41.7% gold with the remainder a mixture of copper and silver.
Caring for Yellow Gold Jewelry
Care for your yellow gold jewelry much the same as you do your white gold jewelry: use a soft, non-metallic brush, warm water and mild soap. Never dry with paper towels; use instead a soft, lint-free cloth. Also remember to keep it out of cleaning solutions containing ammonia or bleach and remove it before swimming in a chlorinated swimming pool.
A popular choice because of its warm, reddish-pink color, rose gold can come in shades of red, pink or rose. The difference is the amount of copper added to yellow gold. The more copper, the redder the color. The most common mixture of rose gold is 75% yellow gold and 25% copper, measured by mass.
Initially popular in 19th century Russia because famous jeweler Carl Faberge made his legendary jeweled eggs with it, rose gold became popular for engagement and wedding rings in the 1920s. In the early 21st century, rose gold is once again becoming more popular.
Although commonly called “rose gold,” it is also sometimes called red gold or pink gold, depending on its color as a result of how much copper is added to the mix. The more copper added, the redder the color appears.
Rose gold is harder and more durable than white or yellow gold because of its high copper content. It also darkens slightly as it ages, becoming more reddish as time goes on. This will give your rose gold engagement and wedding ring set a vintage look that cannot be faked.
Caring for Rose Gold Jewelry
As with white and yellow gold, clean your rose gold jewelry in warm water with mild soap. Use a soft, non-metallic brush and dry it with a soft, lint-free cloth. Again, never dry your metal jewelry with a paper towel because the fibers in paper towels can scratch the metal.
Platinum Engagement Rings
The rarest of the precious metals, platinum is only found in a few areas on Earth and in limited quantities where it is found. Approximately 1,500 tons of gold are produced worldwide every year but only 160 tons of platinum are produced yearly. This is why platinum is so much more expensive than white, yellow or rose gold.
Despite its scarcity, platinum has become more and more popular in recent years. This is likely due to its durability as well as its rich, even color and sheen. The same qualities magnify and enhance the brilliance and sparkle of diamonds set in it.
Platinum is the purest of the precious metals: it is 90 to 95% pure platinum. In fact, most fine jewelry uses an alloy of 95% platinum to 5% alloy base metals such as iridium, palladium and ruthenium. These base metals are closely related to platinum and increase its innate strength to make it the hardest, most durable metal that you can use for your engagement and wedding ring set.
Of importance to those who experience allergies to the alloys in fine jewelry, platinum's purity and its related alloys rarely cause an allergic reaction.
Because platinum is so strong and can withstand more stress than the other precious metals, it is a good choice for an engagement and wedding ring set. Unlike white gold that loses it whiteness and can begin to turn yellow over time, platinum keeps its brilliant white color naturally over its lifetime.
Platinum jewelry sold in the United States must carry a stamp attesting to its purity. It will be stamped with “950 Plat” which signifies that it is 95% pure platinum. When stamped “900 Plat," that indicates that the piece of jewelry is 90% pure platinum. In both cases, the remainder is one or more of its related alloys iridium, palladium or ruthenium. Platinum jewelry containing less than 90% platinum cannot be legally sold in the United States.
Caring for Platinum Jewelry
Soak your platinum jewelry in a solution of mild soap and water and use a soft, non-metallic brush to clean off surface dirt. Dry with a soft, lint-free, non-paper cloth. One caveat: platinum worn every day can develop a sheen over time. If you prefer the shiny surface it had when new, simply have your jeweler polish it.
Keeping Precious Metal Jewelry Looking New and Shiny
When you're not wearing them, keep jewelry made of all types of precious metals in their original box, a soft cloth bag or a cloth-lined jewelry box. This will help keep them from developing scratches and keep them shiny and new-looking For more ideas take our engagement ring style quiz at our website www.LondonGold.com