In jewelry, as in all aspects of life, fashion rules come and go, and previously unshakable principles get discarded in favor of more flexible and inclusive choices. Engagement ring traditions have always been slow to change, yet today, luckily for couples planning to tie the knot, everything is possible and OK in terms of style. You are not bound by one specific metal or stone type any longer, and design options are endless.
Hence, in this article, we will highlight how to choose between gold and silver as the main metal, and what factors really matter when you decide on gold or silver engagement rings.
II. Telling the Difference: Gold and Silver Engagement Rings
We’ll play our trump card right away: the only significant difference between gold and silver is the color and the price. In other aspects, both metals are rather similar, and we’ll explore them further.
Gold And Silver: Properties Of Precious Metals
Gold and silver are considered precious metals because they share important properties that make them stand out:
- these metals are inert (do not start reactions with chemicals) and are thus safe to wear;
- they carry negligible allergy risks (with reservations, though);
- these metals do not corrode or rust;
- they are very soft and malleable, which makes them perfect for crafting intricate designs;
- they are unique in looks and beautiful in any form, whether as simple bands or grand multi-stone pieces.
One more feature of silver is its ability to disinfect water and surfaces, so it can be considered a healing metal, to some degree.
That’s why the choice is a matter of preference because, in all other respects, gold and silver are perfect for engagement rings.
What’s Cool And What’s Not So Cool About Gold And Silver Engagement Rings
When you try to choose a gold or silver engagement ring and look for tips, you may often read that silver is softer than gold and should be avoided. However, the difference is often negligible, as both silver and gold rate 2.5-3 on the Mohs scale. For comparison, platinum is 4 to 4.5, and palladium is 4.75. Grade 10 is assigned to a diamond, and the rest is compared against it, just for you to understand the principle.
Yes, silver may be somewhat softer and more flexible, but it does not impact the lifetime of a ring that much. The color changes and tarnish, on the other hand, do, and that’s where the difference begins.
Advantages of gold:
- Cost is a pro and a con for this metal. Initially more expensive, with time, the ring gains in value, as the gold price steadily grows through time.
- Gold preserves its gloss and yellow (or rose) color and does not need regular cleaning.
- Gold is considered classic in fine jewelry, so whenever you choose gold, you make a safe bet.
Disadvantages of gold:
- White gold requires more care and maintenance than other types of gold and silver.
- Rose gold can cause allergies in some cases.
- Cost is higher than that of silver.
Advantages of silver:
- Its neutral grayish-white color is a great match for all kinds of stones, from diamonds to colored gems.
- Silver is hypoallergenic.
- It’s lower in density than gold and thus a massive ring is more comfortable to wear.
- It’s easy to work with and to cast or twist into myriads of designs.
- It’s definitely cheaper than white gold if you look for this sleek icy look.
Disadvantages of silver:
- Silver requires a certain level of regular maintenance, including cleaning and polishing.
- Silver darkens over time and needs to be rhodium-plated to slow this process.
- It’s not a very sensible investment if you look at your ring from this viewpoint.
Key Points To Pay Attention To When Choosing Between Silver And Gold Engagement Rings
So, as you see, the main factors are definitely price and color, after all. The durability of the materials is rather similar if we speak technically.
Price. If you are comparing: Are gold or silver engagement rings more expensive? , then the obvious answer is gold is reasonably costlier. Be ready to spend several hundred dollars on it. Silver is cheaper, accordingly.
Color. Color is a trickier point: silver is close to white gold, so the dilemma of whether to buy white gold or silver wedding rings will depend on both money and color and what other rings will be stacked with that band. Gold is better worn with gold because silver takes tiny scratches more easily from its neighbors.
However, gold itself has several colors, and each has its advantages. Look closely at them, pair them with the stone you want, and see how it all works together and what style you like best (or what a trusted jeweler recommends).
That’s basically it, and now let’s explore the topic of gold and silver rings separately to have the information neatly laid out in front of you.
III. Brief Overview Of Gold Engagement Rings
Gold comes in several varieties, and you can choose one or even go for a combination of colors in one ring.
1. Gold can come in different colors and karats
Yellow gold: it is gold with this classic rich warm color that gives name to everything else. The color is achieved by adding a bit of zinc and copper in equal proportions. This gold is excellent for rings with universal and timeless appeal, and it works well with diamonds and colored gems. This gold does not change its glorious look over time and does not require lots of maintenance.
Rose gold: this gold has an amazing pinkish tint that makes it look very interesting and more subtle than yellow gold. It works well with diamonds and gems that have red undertones, and it also compliments all skin tones because it actually resembles human skin. The only drawback of this gold kind is a slightly higher content of copper, which may cause skin irritation in some people. Remember this detail when choosing a rose gold or silver engagement ring for your loved one.
White gold: this gold has a glorious cold-white surface, shiny and pristine, almost mirror-like, and it’s an unparalleled match to top-class diamonds. This paradoxical color is achieved through the addition of platinum or palladium, and as a result, this type of gold needs more care and maintenance.
2. Gold carats and how they impact the ring
As you see, it’s not the pure 100% gold that comes into your ring, because pure gold is very soft and will bend and deform easily. Ligatures like zinc or copper are added to make gold sturdier and more practical for everyday wear.
How does this fact relate to the idea of karat? Directly, we’d say. The karat number indicates how much pure gold vs. alloy is present in the ring, and the higher the number, the more pure gold is there. 24 karat gold stands for 100% gold, as a benchmark to know.
This is not to say that gold with a karat number below 24 is not OK or is not gold – it is, and it is valuable and sought after. Yet there is a minimum karat requirement for gold to be considered real, and this number is 14.
9 karat gold has only about a third of gold in the mix, and so is not considered ‘real’ gold with its full value.
So ultimately, choose 14 or 18-carat gold for important jewelry, including engagement rings, and you’ll get it right.
3. Gold engagement rings: yes or no?
We talked about this comparison before, but let’s recap:
- Gold rings are timeless, classy, and versatile;
- They are considered the epitome of luxury;
- They last long and don’t need much maintenance, except for white gold;
- They don’t change color over time (again, with an exception for white gold);
- They only get more expensive with time.
- They cost quite a lot when you purchase them;
- Rose gold can cause allergy (so mind it when choosing silver or rose gold engagement rings);
- White gold rings need more care in wear and more maintenance to preserve their glorious beauty.
4. Gold engagement rings: maintenance and precautions
Gold requires little in terms of maintenance: don’t subject it to strong impacts or abrasion and get to a jeweler’s sometimes for a light polish. It should be enough to keep the ring pretty and shiny.
However, it’s not as simple when it comes to white gold. The base yellow color can become visible over time, so rhodium plating (and periodical re-plating) is required. The ring can also show some tarnish over time, so professional cleaning is necessary. This is the point where the question Are gold or silver engagement rings better? is slightly off because both white gold and silver need additional care in the process of wear.
IV. Brief Overview of Silver Engagement Rings
Silver is another beloved material for jewelers, but here, we will talk only about the most essential properties.
1. Sterling silver: is it OK for engagement rings?
Silver as such in its pure form is not suitable for any practical use because it is extremely soft and bends easily. For this reason, in jewelry, sterling silver is used, and that’s what we call ‘silver’ as we know it.
Sterling silver contains 92.5% of silver and 7.5% of other metals, often copper. Hence the name ‘Silver 925’. It is the addition of other metals that causes the famous patina or tarnish on silver, but this darkened layer is easily removed by gentle cleaning. In the jewelry alloy form, silver is second to none for making jewelry pieces and other precious objects, like tableware, timepieces, tea sets, etc.
2. Silver engagement rings: yes or no?
Looking for a pronounced vintage look that reminds you of the best jewels of the past? Want the silvery surface but cannot cash out for white gold? Silver is your go-to, and today it is a completely acceptable and viable option for engagement and wedding jewelry.
What some people may see as a drawback, jewelers often cite as a benefit: the thin darkened layer that appears over time on silver accentuates and brings forwards the tiniest and the most delicate details, etching, curves, or patterns a jeweler chooses to put on a ring. Cool design, inscription, or other forms of relief decoration all become visible when executed in silver.
So if you want a complex and ornate look that has an expensive vintage feel, go for silver.
- Silver is cheaper than gold;
- It is hypoallergenic;
- Some people feel that silver has some unique mystic properties, but that’s up to you, to believe it or not.
- Silver does tarnish over time, and significant darkening may need to be removed;
- Silver is rather easy to scratch;
- It’s still not very common for engagement rings, so the number of designs may be limited. But it’s really easy to make any type of custom ring of silver. Even if your sweetheart’s dream is all-in-one, like a gold silver diamond ring, with a pinch of colored gems thrown into the mix, it’s totally possible with these two metals.
3. Silver engagement rings: maintenance and precautions
The final point to remember: caring for the silver engagement ring of your dreams. As said, don’t subject it to strong abrasion, impacts, or pressure (just like with gold rings), and take it to a jeweler for a gentle cleaning perhaps once a year.
If you want to avoid the hassle of cleaning and polishing, buy or order a ring that has rhodium coating, and you’re good. The ring will have a mirror-like shine and whiteness and won’t darken at all. But this coating will also have to be reapplied periodically.
V. What’s Right for You? How to Choose a Perfect Ring
Now that you can make your own conclusions about choosing a gold or silver engagement ring according to their properties, let’s run through the points to consider for both metals before you settle on the final design.
First things first: taste, style, and preferences
Ultimately, it all comes down to the taste of the person you will give the ring to. If she wears gold mostly, it’s reasonable to give her a gold ring. If she loves silver, naturally offer her a silver jewelry piece. If her jewelry box hosts a mixed metals collection, you’d better ask, directly or indirectly. This point of consideration is very individual and subjective, so the question: Are engagement rings supposed to be gold or silver? may be a bit irrelevant here.
Money matters: plan the budget
If the price is the primary consideration, silver is definitely more affordable. If your budget is very limited, go for a silver engagement ring, and replace it with a white gold ring of the same design later, if desired.
Gold, on the other hand, is more expensive, but you pay for it once and see its value only grow over time.
The wearer's skin tone: pay attention to it, too
Skin tone (not the color, but the undertone) may be warm or cool, and it also impacts what the ring will look like when worn on a finger. Cool skin tone is nicely complemented by a white gold or silver engagement ring (or rose gold, for that matter), and warm skin tone glows when adorned with classic yellow gold.
However, this recommendation is not an absolute law. If your sweetheart prefers a specific metal color, like yellow gold or rose gold, go for it and be sure that she will wear it happily.
Earlier, the answer to the inquiry Are most engagement rings gold or silver? would be more straightforward. Gold was the only possible option, preferably with a diamond.
Today, fortunately, such artificial limitations are lifted and you are free to choose whatever your loved one and you like. Silver and gold both have their pros and cons, they are beautiful in their own way, and we tried to supply the necessary information for you to make the choice confidently and knowingly. A golden or silver wedding ring or an engagement ring is an important symbol, indeed, but it’s only a symbol, and your love and commitment to each other is what matters most.
So whatever you choose, your choice is absolutely fine, as long as your sweetheart likes the ring and you both cherish and nurture your love.