When we talk about precious & noble metals, most people think of yellow gold & silver. However, there are many colors of gold & lots of other precious metals to choose from.
White gold is a reliable metal with excellent durability. It holds gemstones 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.
Yellow is durable, it 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.
Rose gold (also known as pink gold) has become increasingly popular over the last few years. Its pink tone comes from a higher proportion of copper in the alloy mix. 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.
Green gold occurs when a higher proportion of silver is added to the alloy. The greenish-yellow hue of green gold brings a certain dazzle to custom jewelry designs. 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.
Silver is not often used for intricate custom designs. Mostly because it is softer than other metal options. Therefore, making it more challenging for holding stones over time. Also, because silver oxidizes with time. That said, if the design takes into consideration stability for stones & the oxidation is highlighted to give 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 gemstones in place. Because it oxidizes, a silver ring will need to be cleaned often.
Platinum is often the best option for those looking for a classic white look. 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 pieces. Also, it is slightly more expensive to make platinum jewelry than to make one in other met.
Palladium is a lesser-known precious metal but still a perfectly good choice for custom jewelry designs. 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 designs. Also, it is particularly difficult to work which means that future maintenance & sizing can be tricky.