Choosing the right metal for your wedding ring can be a confusing process! Platinum or white gold? 9ct or 18ct? What about palladium? You’ll soon realise that not all metals are created equal, and each has its pros and cons. Just because one metal is more expensive than another, doesn’t necessarily mean that metal will be more suitable for your jewellery needs or your lifestyle.
So what metal properties should you look for in a wedding ring? Obviously, you’ll want something that will go the distance. But you may also want to consider factors such as colour, price, finish, weight, or whether your ring will be suitable for swimming.
Of course, if you already have an engagement ring, we recommend matching metals. Check out some of our engagement and wedding band combinations.
Here is our metal guide to help you break down the right metal choice for you!
What is an alloy?
Alloys are created because pure metals don’t always have the qualities needed for a particular task. So two or more elements are mixed together, one of which is a metal, to create a more useable material. Pure gold, for example, is too soft to use in jewellery as it more easily bends, dents and scratches. So it is mixed with other materials, such as silver or palladium, to make it harder. As a result, jewellers have a wide range of metal properties to work with to ensure they have the right material for the job!
Silver is a very affordable and malleable metal. Sterling silver is alloyed with a base metal, such as copper, with a ratio of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper.
However, since it is softer than gold, silver may wear out more quickly and become damaged if worn every day – particularly if a piece is thin or delicate. Silver can oxidise or tarnish if it is unworn for a long period of time or exposed to chemicals such as chlorine, bleach or ammonia. But don’t worry, it is easily cleaned with soap and a toothbrush, silver jewellery cleaner or a polishing cloth.
Yellow gold wedding bands look timeless and classic. Rose gold offers a subtle and contemporary alternative, complementing most skin tones. White gold is fresh and bright with rhodium plating, All are valuable with a rich, luxurious appearance.
When considering whether gold is the right metal for you, the most important thing to think about is the carat weight (ct). Since pure gold is quite soft, it is mixed with other metals to make it harder. And this creates a few points for variance:
- The higher the gold content (or carat) the richer the colour will be.
- The higher the carat, the heavier the gold will be.
- Price increases with carat weight because of the higher gold content and the higher quality of the materials used to create the alloy.
- 9ct gold can sometimes tarnish, while 18ct is tarnish resistant.
- 9ct rose gold can react when swimming in salt water or chlorinated pools, due to its copper content. 14ct may not react. 18ct is safe.
- While it is commonly believed that 18ct gold is less durable than 9ct, this isn’t necessarily the case. 18ct gold is mixed with higher quality materials, such as palladium, while 9ct gold is mixed with silver.
- 18ct gold is better for stone-setting.
- Some people love the look of natural white gold, which has a slightly yellow tinge. Otherwise, it will need to be rhodium plated for a bright, polished finish, which should be maintained annually (on average, depending on wear), at the cost of around $100. If the ring is thinner, the wearing of the rhodium plating will be less obvious.
- Anything higher than 18ct is impractical for daily wear due to the softness of the metal and its need for constant polishing to maintain an adequate finish.
Platinum & Palladium
If you prefer a white coloured metal, you may consider a platinum or palladium ring. Both are considered pure metals, being at least 95% platinum, and have a natural white colour that doesn’t require rhodium plating. Platinum is a rare and valuable metal and is more expensive than gold, primarily due to its weight per gram. It is also a good option for people who react to other metals, as its purity means that it is extremely unlikely that someone will react to platinum. Platinum also develops a natural patina as it ages, creating a slightly darker, antique-looking surface. Some people love this because it sets of any diamonds that are set. Otherwise, a polish will see it restored to its original finish.
Palladium is of the same family as platinum and shares similar properties of colour and hardness, except that it is less dense. This means that it weighs less and costs less than platinum, which is the heaviest metal option for jewellery.
So what’s the right metal for you?
Much like marriage, carefulness and timely maintenance is essential for making sure you get the best out of your wedding ring. Regardless of metal and carat weight, we’ve noticed that the biggest factor in the durability of a wedding ring is the way it is treated.
Selecting the right metal for your wedding ring depends largely on your own preferences and the style of your ring. Of course, the design and surface area of your ring will also make a difference as to the overall durability of your ring and the way that it ages over time.
The designs in our Bilingual collection can be made in any of the abovementioned metals.
Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your wedding band ideas!