Choosing The Precious Metal

Choosing The Precious Metal

When it comes to precious metals – most people think of silver & yellow gold. But did you know there are many colors of gold & lots of other precious metals to choose from also? Let us look at the most popular precious metal choices – engagement rings.


Platinum is often the best option for those looking for a classic white engagement ring. Basically, no metal is better for holding gemstones in place. Diamonds show amazing sparkle & brilliance when mounted in platinum. Unlike white gold, platinum will stay white forever. Although it scuffs, it can be buffed innumerable times without any serious loss of thickness. Much of the vintage jewelry produced during the Art Deco period was elaborated in platinum. This was because it can be worked into sharp geometric shapes as well as ultra-fine filigree. Platinum rings are always pure or nearly pure. A platinum engagement ring will be between 95-100% platinum. The only real drawbacks to this metal are that platinum is very dense & can be quite heavy for larger rings. Also, it is slightly more expensive to make a platinum ring than to make one in other metals.

Did you know that platinum is 80 times rarer than gold? Or that platinum has the highest melting point of the precious metal? Becoming fluid at 1763 degrees Celsius!

White Gold

White gold is a great option for a classic looking white engagement ring. Whether it is 14K, 18K or 19K. White gold is a reliable metal with excellent durability. It holds stones in place very well. The alloys used to make white gold are either nickel or palladium. With palladium often being a more expensive option.

The drawbacks to white gold are that around 10% of people are allergic to nickel. These people will develop a rash because of using white gold with nickel alloy. Also, white gold is never fully white! It is nearly always plated with rhodium to make it white. Over time this plating wears off & the ring will need to be re-plated.

Did you know that white gold became popular during World War II? At this time, the world’s platinum supply was exclusively co-opted by governments for military use.

Yellow Gold

Yellow gold is literally the standard for richness. While styles come & go, yellow gold is always in fashion. It is durable, will not tarnish & requires almost no maintenance. It holds stones in place very well. 14K & 18K are best for straight forward settings.

19K & 22K are a bit softer but are the way to go for very intricate or vintage style engagement rings. The alloy used to karat gold to keep it yellow is usually a 50-50 blend of copper & silver.

Did you know that setting slightly lower quality diamonds in yellow gold will make them appear whiter?

Rose Gold

Rose gold has become increasingly popular over the last few years. Its pink tone comes from a higher proportion of copper in the alloy mix. In either 14K or 18K, rose gold is durable & adds a unique feminine touch to any engagement ring design, especially very delicate pieces. The drawbacks to rose gold are that due to the higher copper content, the ring will need to be cleaned more often. As it will tend to lightly tarnish & repairs/sizing can be a bit more complicated.

Did you know that over the course of the years, the tarnishing that happens to rose gold will make it look vintage?

Green Gold

Green gold occurs when a higher proportion of silver is added to the alloy. In either 14K or 18K the greenish-yellow hue of green gold brings a certain dazzle to designer engagement rings.

This alloy has been popular for several decades. For its unique contrast when combined with white gold or silver. The main drawback to green gold is that it is slightly softer than other colors.

Did you know that green gold can be found in naturally occurring deposits where silver & gold alloy together in the Earth? The Lydians called it Electrum.


Palladium is a lesser-known precious metal but still a perfectly good choice for an engagement ring. Like platinum, it is worked in its pure state or with a purity of 95%. It is eternally white & looks great when set with diamonds. It is also less dense than platinum or white gold so that large rings can be kept quite lightweight.

Drawbacks to palladium are that it can be brittle & not functional for all types of engagement settings. Also, it is particularly difficult to work which means that future maintenance & sizing can be tricky.

Did you know palladium is part of the group of metals known as platinum group metals? Aside from being neighbors on the periodic table, palladium has a very high melt temperature around 1560 degrees C!


Silver is not often used for engagement rings. Mostly because it is softer than other metal options. Therefore, making it more challenging for holding stones over time & because it oxidizes with time. That said, if the design takes into consideration stability for stones & the oxidation is highlighted to give the ring an antique look, then silver can be a great option.

Drawbacks to silver are its relative softness. This means it will scuff easily & requires structural design elements to hold the stones in place. Because it oxidizes, a silver ring will need to be cleaned often.

Did you know sterling silver indicates a mix of 92.5 % silver and 7.5% copper? Since fine silver is too soft for most jewelry, the mix of sterling has been used for nearly 800 years or more!

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