Types of Metal Used in Jewellery
You’ve found your diamond, settled on your setting and now it’s time to decide what type of metal will work best with your chosen engagement ring. Once an easy choice between white or yellow gold, these days there are many more options – rose gold has become popular as well as mixing metals. Of course, personal style will usually play the biggest determining factor in your preference, but there are a few other things to consider when choosing the best metal. Here’s a quick rundown of metals to help you choose what’s best for your engagement ring or jewellery.
A naturally white metal, platinum is durable and naturally hypoallergenic, making it a great choice for those with sensitive skin. Because of its strength and cool shine, platinum is a popular choice when setting diamonds as it provides a secure setting and shows off the sparkle of a diamond beautifully. Though it looks similar to white gold, platinum is five times more rare and pure when used in jewellery. It is also denser so a larger quantity is required to make a ring. Another big advantage is that it doesn’t fade or change colour over time so there’s little need to have your ring re-plated often. We love working with platinum at Chris Lewis Jewellers and specialise in this metal for many of our custom-made pieces.
The most common choice for engagement rings, gold is a very versatile metal that is measured in karats. Pure gold is 24 karats, meaning 24 out of 24 parts are gold. Pure gold is far too soft to be used for jewellery, so it’s mixed with other metal alloys to make it stronger. You’ll find 22K gold, but usually gold comes in 18K (75% gold), 14K (58% gold) and 10K (about 42% gold). Other metals — like silver, copper, nickel and zinc — make up the remainder to increase strength and durability. The type and percentage of metal alloys used determine the shade and colour of gold. Those colours are usually as follows:
Once the most favoured, yellow gold lost its popularity for many years, however in recent times has regained favour again. Though a more classic choice, yellow gold is stylish and perfect for a bride that is more drawn to warmer tones. Its warm appearance comes from the red of copper and the green hue of silver.
More modern than yellow gold, white gold - which gets its colour from combining yellow gold with copper, zinc and nickel - has a silvery white appearance. It makes a great choice for a bride that prefers cooler tones or in lieu of platinum which is more expensive. Most rings fashioned from white gold are plated in rhodium (from the platinum family but four times more expensive!) to give the white gold a reflective appearance and make it more resistant to scratching and tarnishing. White gold is more likely to wear over time, so your ring will definitely need re-plating to maintain its brilliance.
Those with an affinity to all things vintage tend to gravitate towards the romantic, pink-hued rose gold. Over the last few years, it has been more commonly used for mixed metal designs, with some brides choosing to go with a white or yellow gold engagement ring and then a rose gold wedding band. The metal’s colour is created by combining yellow gold with a copper alloy. Rose, yellow and white gold all contain the same overall percentages of metal alloys, it’s just a different mixture of alloys used that change the colour.
Check out all of our jewellery in the store. If you have a preference for metal you can browse our jewellery by its metal as well - see platinum, yellow gold, rose gold and white gold.