No one wants to wear, or give, an engagement ring that ages in dog years.
Longevity problems and issues with engagement rings can be caused by poor craftsmanship, but don’t negate the impact of a poor metal choice.
Certain metals are all round better choices for an engagement ring.
The engagement ring decorating her/your ring finger will be tagging along as the years fly by.
Let’s make it a great, enjoyable journey that’s just as thrilling as those first few days after the proposal.
#1 Reason to avoid white gold.
Just after I tricked my wife into marrying me we made a deal that we wouldn't let ourselves go.
Sure, we’ll get older, but we committed to an effort to stay healthy mentally and physically.
White gold doesn't play like that.
Although stunning at first sight - white gold doesn't stay in shape at all.
And to start off with... White gold isn’t white.
It’s is a rather dullish grey metal with a slight yellow undertone.
To counter this jewellers plate white gold with a few microns of rhodium to improve the “whiteness” and sheen of a ring.
Rhodium is stunning, but the plating starts wearing off in a few short months.
Unfortunately, rhodium doesn’t wear off in a homogeneous way. High wear areas like the bottom of the ring start wearing off first, creating a patchy looking ring. No one wants their brand new engagement ring to starting to ageing the moment it lands on your finger.
Take a look at this image. On the left, you see unplated white gold, and on the right when it's just been plated… massive difference.
Platinum group metals don’t need any form of plating and even after 50 years, the metal will appear as white as the first day you laid eyes on the ring.
Everyday issues worth considering when choosing a metal for an engagement ring:
Look for a low maintenance friend.
Put over the moon proposal emotions aside for a second… and focus on choosing the right foundation for this incredibly significant piece of jewellery.
I’m not going to romanticise the issues with the mentioned metal options. These are the real world run-ins people have with engagement rings.
These issues are bound to pop up if you choose a bargain basement jeweller. The "beat any price" - mindset usually manifests in creating overly thin and flimsy products to keep costs down. Use a proper jeweller and avoid these two headaches;
1. Peace of mind that the diamonds will be secure and safe in the ring.
Engagement rings are worn. All day, every day. And this exposure guarantees that they take light bumps and knocks every now and then.
Decent craftsmanship surely helps to ensure that a ring can withstand these minor encounters... but a hard blow is bound to happen some time. And then I’m sure you want the strongest metal to secure the diamonds as best as possible in that dreaded moment.
Another overlooked risk is the accumulation of light daily bumps that slowly move the prongs that secure your diamonds out of place… and then you lose a diamond, or 5.
Did you know pure gold (Au) is so soft that you can indent your nail into a bar of gold?
Platinum and palladium are significantly harder and stronger than white gold. Personally, the fact that white gold isn’t a very secure home for a diamond disqualifies it as an option for me.
As a bonus; the hardness of platinum and palladium allows for the claws holding your diamond in place to be slightly smaller/daintier than you’d find on a white gold ring. Delicate prongs and claws make your diamond look bigger, and just gives an engagement ring a more refined and elegant overall look.
We recommend that our customers visit us at least once a year to have their engagement ring cleaner thoroughly, and to ensure all diamonds are still secure. This falls under our free maintenance commitment.
2. The ring should look great, with minimal amounts of visible wear and tear in terms of scratches.
Engagement rings come into contact with a variety of hard surfaces. Due caution helps, but isn’t failproof.
Although platinum is far from scratch resistant it is much more durable than white gold. Your platinum or palladium engagement ring will not be in desperate need of a touch-up polish every couple of months.
Gold’s distinct soft and malleable nature makes it a goldsmiths dream. Unfortunately these very same characteristics compromise the strength and durability of a white gold ring.
Jewellery manufacturing has changed with 3D printing technologies. Detail in a ring can now be printed in a wax model, and cast flawlessly without a goldsmith having to over and over bend thin metal rods.
You have two main differences, durability wise, between platinum and palladium when compared to white gold:
White gold is much softer than platinum and palladium and simply picks up scratches more easily and in greater severity.
When whitegold is scratched a minute piece of metal is generally worn off. It erodes. Platinum and palladium on the other hand have a sort of smear effect where the metal is just slightly displaced. It can easily be polished back into place. Over the years the bottom of a white gold ring will wear thin, and that may lead to some unwanted bending eventually.
Please note, scratches aren’t a trainwreck. Every single ring picks up tiny scratches and they can be polished rather easily.
You might start out with the intention of having your engagement ring properly polished up every 4 months, but people are crazy busy and don’t find time to run into jewelry stores as planned.
Platinum and palladium are the most durable metals and therefor a great choice for an everyday jewellery item such as an engagement ring.
We offer free cleaning and polishing services to all our customers for the life of their ring.
9kt White Gold?
The karat of gold refers to the number of units out of 24 that are pure gold. The higher the karat, the higher the purity.
Pure gold is too soft to withstand the daily wear and tear an engagement ring goes through, so it’s always blended with other metals like silver, palladium, and copper to make a way more durable alloy for use in jewellery.
- 9kt white gold is 9/24 units pure gold, which leaves us at a 37.5% purity. Which is too low.
Further, the higher silver content softens the metal even more, and we've made the call to not work in 9k gold (any colour).
OK, What About Platinum vs Palladium?
Palladium is 10 times rarer than platinum. Apparently you can stack all the palladium that has ever been mined into a double-garage. I haven't tried that though. #someday
As you’ve seen; platinum and palladium are both excellent white metal choices for an engagement ring. Their chemical and physical properties vary slightly, but you can’t go wrong with either.
These are the three areas where the metals differ;
Platinum is more than 60% heavier than palladium, and the weight difference is very obvious when you try on rings in both metals.
You can argue both ways, but the vast majority of ladies prefer the presence created by the heft of platinum jewellery.
And to be frank; it just feels more expensive.
This is an example of our Bea engagement ring, and it’s weight in the three white metals we've discussed;
Although platinum is the cheapest per gram, you need 60% more of it.
Per gram, palladium is three times more expensive than platinum at the time of writing.
For decades palladium was selling at a fraction of the platinum price, but with the surging demand from the motor industry, palladium has rocketed past platinum and doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
Platinum is a downright bargain currently.
3. Prestige - You want the best... and there's nothing wrong with that.
Every single ring we’ve manufactured with a price tag north of R200 000 has been in platinum.
When it comes to reputation, prestige and perceptions, platinum is sitting firmly on the throne. And that’s not changing any time soon.
It’s simply been the default choice for high-end diamond jewellery for decades.
Maybe prestige isn’t important to you, but since this is a gift, and the price is right, using the fanciest engagement ring metal won't hurt, right?
This opportunity won't last forever. Take advantage of it.
My wife’s ring is made in palladium.
It was a no brainer 7 years ago. It’s aged beautifully, and is in no need of a make-over. Palladium has been a great metal friend.
But If I had to make the call today - I wouldn’t think twice before picking platinum.
It’s a great deal at the current price.
Remember that the forces in these market players are much bigger than the jewellery industry. These metal prices have their ups and downs.
Order it in platinum.
Where to from here?
Words and photos don’t do these luxurious metals any justice.
Do us both a favour and visit us to see and feel these noble metals in person, on your hand, compared to your unique skin tone.
You’ll really have a fascinating time exploring these metal options.
So, it's as easy as sending me a mail ( firstname.lastname@example.org ), and we can take it from there.
*For consultation bookings, quotes, and questions please email me on email@example.com