What’s the Best Engagement Ring Metal in Comparison?

If you set out to buy an amazing ring you will undoubtedly be faced with the challenge of choosing the right ring metal.

Most high end jewelry that you can find will usually come along in one of the following ring metals:

Typical Ring Metals for High End JewelryEvery Ring Metal has pros and cons in terms of durability, matching the skin type and allergic reactions. So what’s the best metal for engagement rings?

Let’s have a closer look and do a ring metals comparison.

Yellow Gold as a Ring Metal (Go and click here for samples)

Yellow Gold is the king among the gold types. It has exactly the kind of glorious color that you think of when hearing the word gold.

Pure gold (24 Karat) is too soft and would too easily get scratches and deformations. This is why jewelry gold rings are usually mixed with alloys such as zinc or copper.

Most gold rings are made of 14K gold (58.5% gold content) or 18K gold (75% gold content). I have explained in another post on gold purity why in general 14K gold is the most desirable. In fact, nearly 90% of all gold engagement rings and wedding bands are made out of 14K gold.

    • 14K gold solitaire diamond ring setting
    • 14K gold diamond tension ring setting

(Pictures are courtesy of James Allen)

Yellow gold is not as durable as white gold because there is a different alloy mixture contained. Therefore a 14K yellow gold ring will tend to show marks of wear and tear more quickly than a 14K white gold ring.

Yellow gold is the purest form of gold because natural gold has the yellow gold color. Yellow Gold is also associated the most with success and winning. This is why the winner in any competition gets a yellow gold medal.

Furthermore, yellow gold is the most hypoallergenic of all gold metals. This means that it usually causes fewer allergic reactions than other metals.

Particularly for diamond engagement rings yellow gold ring settings have the advantage that you can tone down the color quite a bit. As a diamond picks up quite some color of the ring setting you would not really be able to see a difference between a D colored and an H colored diamond mounted onto a yellow gold ring setting!

I have described the relationship between ring metal and diamond color in my post about diamond color. So in order to get the best bang for your buck you could even go down with your diamond to a K color for a yellow gold ring setting. And the diamond would still look perfectly fine:

Best diamond color for every specific ring metal

Yellow gold rings are particularly well suited for darker or olive colored skintones. You might want to take that into consideration when choosing the ring metal.

In fact, many women tend to have a clear preference for a certain ring metal. Usually it is subconsciously based on the fact that certain ring metals matches their skin tone particularly well.

Likewise yellow gold does not match particularly well with pale or rosy skin tones.

White Gold as a Ring Metal (Go and click here for samples)

White gold consists of pure gold and is mixed with other alloy metals. These are usually silver, managenese, palladium, rhodium and nickel. Therefore white gold does not exist on its own.

White gold rings can usually be bought as 14K (58.5% gold content) or 18K (75% gold content) rings. As already mentioned, a 14K white gold ring will be more durable than a 14K yellow gold ring due to the different alloy metals.

    • 14K White Gold Channel Set Engagement Ring
    • 14K White Gold Solitaire Ring Setting

In the United States white gold has become more popular than yellow gold in recent times. As it is also cheaper than platinum it also clearly has the edge over platinum. White gold is on par with yellow gold as far as the price is concerned.

You should check whether white gold matches the skin tone of the person you are buying the ring for. In general white gold complements light skin tones like fair and rosy skin types particularly well. White gold is not well suited for olive and darker skin tones, though.

Due to the nickel that is usually contained within white gold it has the largest tendency to cause allergic reactions. If you are among those people, you will want to make sure that the white gold you are buying does not contain any nickel.

It will be harder to find but white gold rings without nickel and palladium instead can be found as well. Palladium does not cause any allergic reactions. If you have difficulty finding a white gold ring without nickel platinum can be a good alternative, too. These days it is not that much more expensive than white gold as it used to be.

White gold rings are usually rhodium plated. Rhodium itself is used as a plating because it has a dazzlingly flashy crome-like appearance. Among all metals it has the most pronounced reflective properties. As rhodium on top of a white gold ring setting sparkles quite heavily it is difficult to tell where the diamond ends and the metal begins from a couple of feet away.

As rhodium is a plating it will wear of with the usual wear and tear and will require reapplication every 6 months or so (depending on usage). This can be done at every local jewelry store for a little amount of money.

Plated White Gold vs Unplated White Gold

Thus, if you are buying a ring for a person with lighter skin tones and don’t want to pay that much money for platinum, white gold might be the very best choice for you!

Rose Gold as a Ring Metal (Go and click here for samples)

Rose gold is pure gold mixed with a copper alloy that produces the red/pinkish color. Therefore rose gold does not exist on its own just like white gold.

Rose gold rings can usually be found in 14K (58.5% gold content) or 18K (75% gold content) with the rest being copper. Rose gold is also referred to as pink gold, red gold or Russian gold as it used to be very popular in 19th century Russia.

14K rose gold rings will look pinker than 18K gold due to the heightened amount of copper:

14K rose gold vs 18K rose gold

Rose gold can be slightly cheaper than yellow gold or white gold as the alloy used in rose gold (copper) is generally cheaper.

Rose gold has the advantage of being more durable than yellow gold or white gold. Unlike white gold rose gold will constantly maintain its shiny appearance for a lifetime. Therefore no alloy reapplication is necessary. Rose gold rings also have no tendency to tarnish.

Rose gold rings have been very popular recently and one reason is surely also the romantic appeal of the pinkish color.

One thing to bear in mind though is the fact that the copper in rose gold rings can cause allergic reactions. You will have to make sure that the wearer does not have an allergy against copper.

All in all, rose gold is an excellent choice for anyone looking for something special with a romantic or girly appeal.

Platinum as a Ring Metal (Go and click here for samples)

Platinum is the most expensive ring metal and has a natural whitish silver color.

Platinum rings must consist of at least 95% platinum, otherwise it would merely be considered a platinum alloy.

Platinum is rarer than gold and very durable. Platinum itself is not that much more expensive than gold. But due to the fact that it is denser than gold more platinum is required to make the same ring setting. Furthermore a platinum ring consists of 95% platinum as opposed to a gold ring that only consists of 58.5% gold (14K ring) or 75% gold (18K ring).

This drives the prices of platinum rings up quite heavily. Let’s compare the prices of the same ring setting in white gold and in platinum to each other:

    • White Gold Solitaire Ring Setting for $480
    • Platinum Solitaire Ring Setting for $930

The price in for the platinum ring setting is nearly double the amount than the 14K white gold ring setting! In fact, this is why platinum is associated with higher status than pure gold. The best seats in large seminars are called platinum seats and the second best are called gold seats. Likewise a platinum credit card has a higher status than a gold credit card.

As you can see however, it is very difficult to distinguish between a white gold ring and a platinum ring. Basically, it is impossible to differentiate between the two just by looking at it!

Platinum has the advantage of being hypoallergenic: It does not cause allergic reactions.

That is not the entire story, however.

Although platinum is a very durable metal it tends to get dull and scratched over time even more than white gold. Therefore a regular repolishing will be required every few years. As opposed to white gold rings it does not require any reapplication of alloy platings. But it requires more upkeep in terms of polishing away the dullness and scrateches that build up over time.

If you want to have more information on the durability of platinum ring settings please read this excellent article by callagold.

All in all platinum is a great choice for anyone being allergic to white gold. Other than that white gold is less expensive and requires less care in terms of repolishing the ring. Therefore I think that for most people white gold is the slightly better alternative.

If you are looking for a ring setting for an engagement ring go and check out James Allen ring settings! They have a huge variety of around 500 different ring settings.

Furthermore, they are currently the best vendor for buying diamonds as you can view all diamonds in high definition 360° videos in up to 40x magnification!

Browsing through diamonds at James AllenIf you have any more questions about ring metals, I will be more than pleased to help you out. Just leave me a comment or write me a mail!

What’s the Best Engagement Ring Metal in Comparison?
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About 

Sebastian Naturski loves to write about diamonds and share his knowledge with his readers.
When he is not working on his website he is studying law at Humboldt University of Berlin.
He has taken part in several international law competitions and likes to broaden his horizons.
His other big passion are languages. He is fluent in German, English, Polish and Japanese and got basic skills in French and Spanish as well.

4 Comments

  1. Would the “best bang for your buck” colors of yellow gold K-M apply to rose gold rings?

    • Hi Lauren,

      For round cut diamonds, any color grade from J – M will look great on a rose gold ring setting.

  2. Hi I have my mothers platinum diamond engagement ring which was probably bought in the 1940’s yesterday I noticed a shard of the platinum was sticking up on the band. I haven’t caught it on anything and thought platinum was the strongest metal, I wear it with her platinum wedding ring. Do you know the cause and if it can be repaired without damaging the diamonds? I’m so upset as it was my dear mums pride and joy. I haven’t caught it on anything so cannot understand why it has gone like this. Would be pleased of any advice you can give me. Many thanks.

    • Hi Melanie,

      Sorry to hear about your ring. Although platinum is a durable metal, it tends to get dull and build scratches over time. Therefore, a regular repolishing is required every few years. A shard of the platinum sticking up on the band is really rare indeed and usually it just happens when there is outside force applied.

      Anyway, you can go to a professional jeweler to have the ring repaired. It might be necessary to have the diamond removed, but that depends on the kind of concrete damage the ring has. This scenario is pretty normal given the age of the ring. Just have it checked by a reliable jeweler, so you can still enjoy your mother’s ring for many years to come!

      Cheers. 🙂

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