Believe it or not, but only about two centuries ago the most widely used metal for diamond jewelry was silver. The material was considered to be very valuable at that time. Besides, it is easy to work with and has this particular grayish-white glimmering appearance that is a perfect background for the colorless stones. Yet it darkens with time, and today those once gorgeous jewels look dull.
Luckily, since then new varieties of precious metals have been discovered, and you can pick and choose the material that will play to the benefit of a diamond you’ve selected without losing its shine and polish over years. However, even the new materials have their particularities and can impact the overall look of the jewelry item you buy. The proper choice of material is all the more important for a diamond engagement or wedding ring that will sit proudly on the wearer’s hand every day.
Besides, it’s not only the look that should determine the selection of the metal. Some materials are sturdier and more durable than others, and so they will suit an active lifestyle or the job that requires a full hands-on approach frequently.
To help you make the right decision and match the perfect material and the stone for this significant ring, we’ve compiled a detailed guide to popular metals and their specifications. With this guide in hand, you’ll find a ring that will be beautiful and durable enough to tell her of your love for the many years ahead.
II. What Metals Are Usually Used For Diamond Rings?
The historically preferred silver aside, the currently most popular metals for diamond rings are platinum, gold and palladium.
They make the natural go-to options because they are precious, durable, don’t give in to corrosion or rust, are hypoallergenic, and create an appropriate setting for such valuable stones as diamonds. Titanium and tungsten are also used sometimes, but they are rather an exception than the rule.
Why these particular metals?
- Platinum has the natural silvery color, cool and glossy, and diamonds look majestic against this backdrop. Platinum is also very rare and heavier than other precious metals, which makes it a costly investment. Its durability and hypoallergenic properties are excellent for daily wear, but platinum is very hard to work with for jewelers.
- Gold can come in a variety of colors, like white, rose and yellow, and it’s the best metal for classic-looking jewelry. Gold is easy to work with and hypoallergenic (except rose gold), but it can be scratched or otherwise damaged if worn during active handwork or pastimes.
- Palladium is a relatively new addition to the palette of jewelry materials, although it was discovered back in 1803. It belongs to the platinum group and is comparable in price to platinum. Palladium retains its classy white appearance forever, is close to platinum in durability but is lower in density, which makes palladium rings lighter than the platinum rings of the same size. The only disadvantage we can think of in relation to this material is that there are not many models available in this metal, but you can definitely order a custom design.
III. Key Aspects To Think Through While Choosing Metal for Diamond Rings
Now that we have roughly outlined the popular metal options in the diamond rings segment of the jewelry market, it’s time to highlight the impact of every metal on the final look of the ring and the nuances of style it will contribute.
Color. Diamonds are colorless (if we talk about classic diamonds), but it does not mean that they can coexist with any shade of setting with the same ease. It’s not a coincidence that silver was chosen as a good setting back then: its whiteness provided the necessary backdrop for the diamond sparkle without obscuring it when diamond-cutting technology was far from perfect. Today, the necessary neutrality of setting is achieved with the help of white gold, platinum and palladium. In general, white-colored metal for engagement ring with diamond is more preferable if presenting the unobscured splendor of the stone is of primary importance.
Traditional yellow and rose gold create a more universal ‘precious’ look of the ring, but gold softens the icy-white shine of diamonds, lending them a warmer and more refined look. Gold is also great if the ring setting itself features interesting details that should be visible. Gold is perfect for accentuating fine metalwork and inventive designs. Diamonds in gold are also great for stacking, because their fiery nature becomes more subtle and works better with other colored gems.
Durability. If durability and heavy-duty service of the ring are at the forefront, then platinum and palladium will do the job well. Gold can get damaged due to its relative softness, so it’s suitable for people who enjoy less activity-packed pastimes.
Hypoallergenic properties. In terms of possible irritation or lack thereof, practically all precious metals score high in being hypoallergenic. However, there is an exception: rose and yellow gold contain small amounts of copper for greater durability and achieving the desired shade. Although this copper addition is negligible for the gold valuation, it can cause irritation in some wearers.
Price considerations. We do not know how much you plan to spend on a diamond ring for your loved one, and it’s totally the matter of your desire and discretion. Just mind that diamond rings made of platinum and palladium will cost significantly higher than rings made of gold (while the amount of metal and diamond size are the same).
Style decisions. This consideration is not the least important for the diamond ring selection. If the ring recipient wears jewelry pieces all made of gold, then the best choice would be a yellow or rose ring with diamond.
If her jewelry box brims with silver or white gold items, then safely pick the white metal. In general terms, white gold and platinum look more contemporary, minimalist and cool. Yellow and rose gold evoke the classic jewelry feel, timeless and elevated. So it depends on what style your loved one prefers in daily life. It will be a factor not to be omitted in decision-making.
Gold is the first option that comes to mind when you set out to find the perfect metal for a ring with diamond, and for a good reason. However, gold itself can come in various types and shades. Each variation of color works differently with colorless stones, and properties of each shade are also surprisingly different.
The most widely used types of gold are white, yellow, and rose, and their properties and durability are impacted by the jewelry additives that create the desired shade.
Rose gold has a light pinkish tint that complements human skin naturally and beautifully. Rose coloring is achieved by adding small amounts of copper.
Advantages of this metal:
- The rings are more durable that those made of yellow gold
- Affordability of price makes them a viable option for many people
- Rose gold does not change color or darken from regular wearing
Disadvantages of the metal:
- Presence of copper can trigger allergies in people who have metal sensitivities
- When executed in high carats, can be very soft and prone to damage
Yellow gold is that very gold that gives its name to other materials and items. When someone talks of golden leaves or golden locks, yellow gold is actually meant. This type of gold was used for jewelry making for centuries and remains a staple of jewelry collections today. This color is achieved when gold is mixed with zinc and copper.
Advantages of this metal:
- It retains its rich color unchanged over time
- It’s easy to work with
- It gives a timeless classic look to jewelry
- It’s been the epitome of elegance and chic for many centuries
Disadvantages of the metal:
- Due to presence of copper or zinc, it can cause skin irritation for some wearers
- This gold is softer than platinum or titanium
- When made in high carat percentage, it can be extremely soft and get worn out over time.
White gold may sound like a joke (because gold is, well, gold-colored), but actually it is a true variation of this precious metal, and it has its own appeal when matched with suitable stone colors. Even a combination of rose gold and white gold in sculptural rings without stones creates a stunning effect worth seeing (and wearing, for that matter).
Composition of white gold is trickier than that of rose and yellow gold. This type of gold is actually an alloy, or the mixture, of several metals. The base is real yellow gold (with added zinc or copper), and platinum or palladium is then added in small amounts to achieve this majestic snowy look. White gold is excellent for different kinds of jewelry, and it works particularly well with diamonds.
Advantages of this metal:
- Its icy-cool whiteness is perfect for combining with colorless diamonds
- White gold is more affordable than platinum or palladium
- It is simpler to work with for jewelers
- It is hypoallergenic because this alloy is made of inert metals
Disadvantages of the metal:
- White gold can attain yellowish shade due to the natural metal interaction process, so it’s recommended to have it rhodium-plated periodically.
- It is softer than pure platinum or palladium and can get scratched
What is Karat and What It Says About Gold Quality?
When we talk about gold being rather soft and subject to some scratching, we actually mean the gold alloys, because gold as a pure element is extremely soft and is not suitable for jewelry making at all. To give it necessary durability and resistance to deformation and damage, other metals like copper or zinc are added in small amounts. It is a fully normal process of adding ligatures to soft metals in jewelry making, FYI, so no need to worry that your gold is not ‘real gold.’ It is absolutely real, precious gold.
The added amounts of ligatures are usually very small, and the proportion of pure gold and additives is what is measured in gold carats. Karats of gold mean the amount of pure gold in the alloy, and the higher the karat number, the more pure gold is in the mixture (and the softer it is).
The most widely used standards are 14-karat and 18-karat gold. It is gold as we all understand it, valuable, unchangeable and beautiful.
10-karat gold is the lowest acceptable standard for the metal to be considered gold, where only about 41% of alloy is real gold and the rest is alloys.
24-karat gold is pure gold with no added metals. It’s the gold stored in the bank vaults, very valuable but not used for the creation of jewelry.
Platinum has long become a symbol of exclusivity and high taste in jewelry. Its properties make it ideal when you choose metal for a diamond wedding ring that will become an heirloom for the generations to come and a great piece to wear daily without reservations. Platinum is a naturally found metal that is very dense and durable, and a ring of the same proportions will be perceptibly heavier than the gold one. The price of platinum reflects this difference quite visibly.
Advantages of the metal:
- very beautiful and stable silvery look and finish, perfect for diamond settings
- very durable and heavy-duty material that is excellent for sports and active pastime lovers
- a rare metal that will only get more valuable with time
Disadvantages of the metal:
- durability and density make it harder to work with for jewelers, so you have to settle all design details before the ring manufacturing begins
- the polished surface takes light scratches easily
- the metal can form a patina over time, so cleaning or rhodium-plating is recommended.
Pricing of platinum jewelry
If we tackle the question of price, then the platinum rings with diamonds will sit near the upper price brackets for diamond rings. If for golden rings with a diamond of a reasonable size the price begins somewhere at $500-$600, then for the platinum ring with the diamond of the same size and quality the price will begin at $1,200 and move upwards exponentially. Yet, platinum makes a good investment, if we take this uncool business approach, and the ring is worth its money.
Palladium is one more metal of platinum group found in raw form in nature (discovered in 1803 and named after the asteroid Pallas and the Greek goddess Athena Pallas). It is silvery-white like platinum, but lighter due to lower density. Of all platinum group metals, it has the lowest melting point and is relatively easy to manipulate during the creative process.
Advantages of the metal:
- beautiful silvery surface that does not change color over time
- hypoallergenic and safe for people with sensitive skin
- usually, patina does not form on it
- it is lighter than platinum and easier to wear and work with
- durable and heavy-duty metal
Disadvantages of the metal:
- Price may seem a bit high, but it’s driven by current demand
- Not many models of rings are available, but it’s always possible to customize the ring and have it made exclusively.
Palladium Pricing Policy
It’s worth noting that palladium used to be cheaper than platinum, yet due to the recent surge of demand for palladium rings and rarity of the metal, the prices went up and reached the level of platinum. If a platinum ring with a sizable diamond can be obtained for $1,100-$1,200, then the palladium ring with a very similar stone will start at the same level of $1,200 and go up to $2,000 for a slightly larger stone.
So take advice from us, weathered jewelers who helped many couples get the rings of their dream: if you have your eyes firmly set on a palladium ring, go for a slightly smaller diamond than you’ve initially planned. It will help to bring the costs down and won’t impact the look of the ring too much.
If you remember that the price of a golden ring with a diamond can start at $500-$600, you can imagine the brackets span for gold and palladium jewelry quite vividly.
VII. The Final Step: Pairing Metal With Diamond
We’ve roughly outlined the general rules of how to choose metal for a wedding ring with diamond (or an engagement ring, for that matter) in the tips above. Rose gold rings look refined and elegant, and they take well colored gems. Diamonds in rose gold look softer and subtler. White gold and platinum set off diamonds perfectly without obscuring them or altering their clarity. It happens because diamonds dutifully reflect their surroundings and it’s not only about reflecting light but also about mirroring the color of the setting. That’s the basics.
However, diamonds themselves can have varying degrees of coloring (not to be confused with clarity) that impacts their look. We talk strictly about colorless diamonds now, although it may sound paradoxical. The point is, even colorless diamonds can have a varying shade of natural yellowness to them and still be considered colorless.
Diamond color grade and choice of metal
Stones are graded on the scale from D to Z. D-F grade stones are considered fully colorless and perfect, G-J stones are almost colorless, and K-Z stones will have the yellow tint that you can notice. Color impacts the price of stones, but it also should influence the choice of metal for a ring.
Perfectly colorless diamonds (D-F) need white setting that will offset their pristine sparkly beauty and rarity.
Almost colorless diamonds (G-J) where yellowness is practically unnoticeable can also benefit from white metal setting, if you want to make the most of their colorlessness. Rose and yellow gold may make a ring look more elegant and classic, but these metals can make this yellow tint visible.
Third group diamonds (K-Z) have the visible yellowish tint, so rose and yellow gold will work best for them. Diamonds will look colorless in the golden glow of the setting, and the ring will have a harmonious appearance. Pure white setting can attract unwanted attention to less than perfect coloring of the stone.
VIII. Keeping It Clean: Maintenance Tips For Different Metals
We’ve tackled the maintenance matters while discussing the properties of each popular metal, and now’s the time to recap it in one place.
Platinum: this very sturdy and durable metal does not lose its color but can take a dull patina over time. That’s why it’s recommended to get it polished at the jeweler’s periodically to preserve the initial shine. Besides, to avoid damage to other metals, we advise to wear the ring paired only with other platinum jewels that are equally hard.
Gold: all types of gold are soft and can show scratches easily, so be gentle with them if you want them to serve long and well. Having them polished now and then will only add to their initial beauty.
- Rose gold does not change its color or get lots of visible patina over time, so the main danger to a perfect look is scratching and mechanical damage. Take off the rings when you do any kind of handwork or work with chemicals and clean the metal parts gently with lightly soapy water and rinse well, if it is necessary. Or have them cleaned professionally.
- Yellow gold also remains true to its initial color but when highly polished, shows the slightest scratches too well. So again, protect it from mechanical impact, take off during handwork or bathing and don’t let it come in contact with chemicals or cosmetics. Again, it will benefit from gentle professional polishing from time to time.
- White gold needs more attention due to its unusual nature. Combination of yellow and white gold will show up over time, making the ring get a yellowish tint. To avoid this unpleasant chance, the ring is initially plated with rhodium. The rhodium finish itself can wear away, so take the ring to a jeweler once a year to get it re-plated. It will preserve the pristine gloss and elegance of the ring. Also be sure not to subject it to hard abrasion, impacts or chemicals.
Palladium: Palladium, as a heavy-duty metal next to platinum, is durable and retains its noble whiteness forever. It also does not tarnish too much, so the only concern in maintenance is to clean it sometimes and to have it polished, if a stubborn scratch has found its way to the shiny surface. Rhodium-plating is a matter of taste here, giving the metal this particular water shine. It’s not required for protective reasons.
As you can see, platinum and palladium are easier to maintain, while gold requires more attention and precautions in handling and wearing.
We have chosen only the most important points that you need to consider while choosing the metal for a diamond ring. Good pairing can multiply the beauty of stones and setting manifold, while selection made in haste will obscure otherwise excellent materials.
Gold is more demanding in maintenance, and yellow and rose gold put forward the detailing of the setting while softening the shine of diamonds. White gold, platinum, and palladium set off the cold and brilliant sparkle of stones, while the setting can be kept simple and subdued. So remember these key principles when deciding on the metal color.
And of course, durability and resilience of metals matter when you consider the lifestyle and personal taste of a wearer. Platinum and palladium will reliably stand the test of many outdoor adventures, while gold will require more delicate treatment due to its preciously picky character.
So convene with your loved one or her friends, decide on what metal will suit her life rhythm and jewelry style, and go on a hunt. We know that your love and dedication together with skills and expertise of a good jewelry shop will inevitably lead you to that special ring that will proudly complement her lovely fingers.