Updated July 2020
What’s the best metal to use for an engagement ring?
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about choosing the perfect metal for your diamond jewelry setting.
As a quick note, this information applies if purchasing an engagement ring for your partner or a diamond ring for yourself, your mother, child or else wise.
Engagement rings are the most common purchases but by no means the only reason to buy a diamond!
What’s the best way to show your soul mate that what you have is a forever thing? First, shower her with lots of love and then pop the big question. If it’s meant to be, she will certainly say yes, but that yes will be even better if she loves the ring too!
So the question becomes, how do you ensure that the engagement ring you pick is one that she will like?
We’re glad you asked! There are so many factors that you should consider, ranging from the type and size of the diamond, the setting, and material used. Speaking of material, the most popular engagement ring metals are gold, silver, and platinum.
With any type of investment, you want to be sure to take your time, do a little research, and come home with the perfect fit for you (and her). Check out our full analysis for each.
Gold is the most popular metal for engagement rings on account of its stylish and durable nature. It’s purest form is 24 karat gold, which has a purity level of 99.9%, without any other substances mixed in.
The downside however, is that because gold is relatively soft, this level or purity is widely considered too soft to be used as jewelry. That is why gold it is usually mixed with other alloy metals, like zinc and copper for strengthening.
As far as engagement rings go, it is more practical for you to choose 14 karat gold; which is 58% pure, or 18 karat gold; which is 75% pure.
Wait that’s not it. In addition to purity levels, you also have to decide whether your significant other will look best in yellow gold, white gold, or rose gold.
Yellow gold is the most popular choice for engagement rings because the color continues to improve with age and it doesn’t need to be re-plated. Its yellowness represents pure gold and traditionally represents wealth and class.
This is an especially good choice of color if your love has olive or a darker skin tone, or if she is prone to allergies. Because of its purity, this is the most hypoallergenic option, so your partner won’t have to worry about adverse reactions from wearing and showing off her ring 24/7.
White gold is another option. It is considered slightly more brittle than yellow gold and might need some re-plating down the line, but resistant to tarnishing. Regarded in the same level as prestige as yellow gold, this is an excellent choice.
White gold works well with lighter skin tones, and won’t be as harsh of a contrast as yellow gold.
Also known as pink gold, rose gold is a mixture of gold and a copper alloy. It is the copper alloy that gives it the pinkish color. For an extra pop of color, bear in mind that using 14 karat gold will result in a more pinkish color than using 18 karat. This is a great metal for people who are looking to make a bit of a statement, or looking for something a little less traditional but still classy.
Rose gold is generally cheaper than yellow and white gold, and just like yellow gold, it is perfect for people with olive or darker skin tones.
Silver is a great metal to pair with an exquisite diamond. The secret? Silver actually shows up “shinier” than gold, and will add a little extra sparkle to your hand as your diamond catches the light.
Compared to gold, it is cheaper, goes well with pretty much any skin tone, and is a perfect match for casual as well as formal attires. Its purest form is fine silver, which is 99.9% pure, but sterling silver (92.5% pure) is still classy and prestigious enough for an engagement ring.
So, if you just don’t like gold, or if you are working with a lower budget, you could consider picking a silver engagement ring.
Ever wonder why the platinum level was regarded as a higher status than gold or silver for bank cards, reward miles, and ring bands? There are multiple reasons.
First of all, it is a shiny metal and will complement any diamond. Secondly, it is stronger and heavier than gold and silver, meaning it will hold the diamond more securely.
Finally, it is hypoallergenic, doesn’t fade or tarnish, and is considered a luxurious metal. Packing all those features and benefits in one engagement ring will surely earn you some extra appreciation from your significant other.
Palladium is a fairly new metal in the world of engagement rings. It is as white as platinum but will cost a fraction of the price. It is the lightest of all the four metals covered so far, and therefore it should be top of your list if your lover doesn’t care for heavy jewelry.
It is another metal that is hypoallergenic and resistant to fade or tarnishing.
Do keep in mind though, if there is ever a need to resize or reshape the band, this could prove to be more difficult than other metals because it is extremely reactive to heat and chemicals, and might even tarnish in the process.
Not the crème de la crème of metals used for engagement rings but it certainly can be a good alternative for you, particularly if you are on a budget. Steel is scratch-resistant, extremely durable, strong, and hypoallergenic.
It is shiny too, but can’t be compared to other precious metals like platinum and silver. The one major drawback with a steel engagement ring is that it will always have that metallic look.
Consider it a starting point and a great excuse to upgrade in the future.
Other Metals to Choose From
The 5 metals above are, by far, the most popular choices when it comes to engagement rings, but they’re not the only options.
For those looking for something different, the best retailers will have more variety, check out some other options below.
6. Titanium: titanium has all the properties of jewelry metals. It is strong, durable, and light in weight. It’s darker color makes it a perfect pick for you if you are not looking for something shiny.
7. Zirconium: this non-toxic metal is very tough and forms a scratch resistant coating after heat treatment.
8. Tungsten: tungsten is probably the heaviest and hardest of all the metals used in jewelry. When well-polished, it is sufficiently shiny and attractive to the eye.
There you have it, some options to consider when choosing the ring to give to your love. Keep in mind, just because one metal or color might be the best “fit” for your budget, status, or skin tone, it is always best to go with your gut.
Think of it like a wine preference, just because you’re supposed to pair steak with a red wine, doesn’t mean that’s going to be the right choice for you (or her). Go with what you like and what works for the both of you. That’s always the most important factor to keep in mind.
Comparing Different Metal Options for Jewelry
The challenge is usually in choosing the right metal and this is something that most people have absolutely no idea about. Of course it all depends on your budget and lifestyle but more importantly on the kind of wear and tear your ring is likely to go through.
So no more guesswork when you are out ring shopping. Here are some tips for men provided by Alan Perry on metal choice.
- Platinum versus Palladium. Platinum is a timeless option for today’s groom, but don’t forget about palladium, its more cost-efficient cousin. Both are considered noble metals and are hypoallergenic. Platinum is a natural gray metal and will form a patina as it ages. Palladium is “forever white”.
- Yellow Gold versus White Gold. This is the most traditional of all wedding band choices. It’s a malleable metal and can be reshaped, polished, stretched and sized throughout its life. The exact color will be a matter of preference.
- Tungsten Carbide. Tungsten carbide is extremely hard and scratch-resistant. An excellent option for the handyman in your life. It’s not hypoallergenic because most tungsten-carbide blends have trace elements of nickel. For a groom who wants that dark gray, heavy look it’s is an exceptional choice.
- Tantalum. Tantalum is a rare, dense, blue-gray colored hypoallergenic metal. A great alternative to gold or platinum. It can be stretched or condensed up to a half-size. Unlike other metals, it’s shatterproof, biocompatible and economical for grooms of all ages.
- Titanium. Titanium is a lustrous transition metal with a low density. It is of high strength and is extremely economical. Rings made with it are NOT malleable, cannot be stretched and will scratch.
- Cobalt Chrome. Cobalt chrome is an alloy of cobalt and chromium. With a strong white metal look and the closest match to white gold, it’s strong, highly resistant and biocompatible. Its rings cannot be sized, nor stretched, but they can withstand everyday activities.