With Valentine’s Day in less than a month away, what better way to shout out your love than on the most romantic day of the year? If you are one of the many people planning on popping the question to your loved one this Valentine’s Day, then you’ll no doubt be wondering how to go about selecting the right ring. A little knowledge can go a long way when selecting an engagement ring, so take a look at the following points to help make this important decision a little easier to make.
Type of Metal
One of the first steps is to choose what your ring will be made out of. The most popular metals used for engagement rings are gold and platinum. With gold, there is a choice between yellow gold, white gold, and pink gold. To get the different colours and to make the ring durable, other metals such as nickel and copper are mixed in. Yellow gold has been the most traditional option but white and pink gold are emerging as a modern favourite. Each metal has its own merits and whilst this guide will give you an overview, you can discuss with us to understand what you’re buying.
White Gold Vs Platinum
One of the most common issues to get confused about is the difference between platinum and white gold. To the naked eye, they look identical so choosing between the two is really down to price, upkeep, and durability. The main difference between white gold and platinum is found in the price. Platinum is much more expensive for a ring. Though similar in price per gram, platinum is denser, meaning more is required to make the same ring. Platinum rings end up being considerably more expensive than white gold rings. Generally, it is advised that white gold is a more financially friendly choice. The price difference could then be better invested in the diamond – either in the ideal diamond cut or increased carat (weight).
In terms of upkeep, platinum scratches more easily than 18 Karat or 14 Karat gold. This means the aftercare for platinum tends to be higher because it must be cleaned and polished regularly to maintain its smooth appearance. Gold, on the other hand, will need to be re-polished and re-plated, but generally not as often as platinum.
With composition, 18 Karat (75% Gold) and 14 Karat (58.3% Gold) gold jewellery are made primarily of gold along with a mix of durable metals like nickel, zinc, copper and a rhodium plating. Since gold by itself is relatively soft it doesn’t make for a sturdy base for a ring and so other metals are introduced. Platinum used in jewellery, on the other hand, is purer—typically between 95-98% platinum—with the remaining percentage rhodium and silver. Stronger and more durable than gold, platinum is the heaviest and densest precious metal. Platinum, because of its purity is also hypoallergenic, so this may be something to consider when choosing your ring.
The Three Types Of Golds
White gold is an alloy—or mixture—of pure gold and white metals such as nickel, silver, and palladium, usually with a rhodium coating.
The pros of white gold include that it’s:
- More affordable than platinum.
- Currently more popular than yellow gold.
- Alloyed with stronger metals than yellow gold, making it more durable and scratch-resistant.
The cons of white gold include that it:
- Needs to be dipped every few years to retain its colour and luster—and to replace the rhodium plating. This process is inexpensive and many Hatton Garden jewellers offer the service for free.
- Often has nickel mixed with it, which causes allergic reactions for some. In other words, white gold is not hypoallergenic unless mixed with alloy metals other than nickel.
Yellow gold is made of pure gold mixed with alloy metals such as copper and zinc. The amount of pure gold in the jewellery depends on its caratage: Starts from 24 Karat: 99.9% Pure to
14 Karat which is 58.3% Pure. A higher karat amount means purer gold content. However, this also means a less durable metal. For this reason, usually 14K or 18K gold is used to mount engagement and wedding rings.
The pros of yellow gold include that it’s:
- The most hypoallergenic of all the three gold colors.
- Historically the most popular metal used for wedding and engagement bands, and thus appropriate for vintage style settings.
- The purest color of all the golds.
- The easiest to maintain out of all three gold color types.
- The most malleable and easiest for jewelers to manipulate.
- Easily matched with diamonds of a lower color grade.
The cons of yellow gold include that it:
- Should be polished and cleaned regularly.
- Is subject to dents and scratches.
Rose gold refers to and encompasses the whole family of red, rose and pink gold shades. Pure gold is alloyed with copper to produce the rose color. The more copper used, the redder the gold appears. A common mix—or alloy—for rose gold is 75% gold and 25% copper by mass (18K). Like white gold, since rose gold is an alloy, “pure rose gold” doesn’t actually exist. Rose gold would make a great alternative for a Valentine’s Day ring since it’s considered by many to be the most romantic metal due to its pinkish-red color.
The pros of rose gold include that it’s:
- In style for both men’s and women’s rings.
- Often more affordable than other metals because copper—the alloy used to make rose gold—costs less.
- Very durable due to the strength of copper—making rose gold tougher than yellow or white gold.
The cons of rose gold include that it:
- Can cause allergic reactions in some and is not a hypoallergenic metal.
- Is not as widely available as yellow and white gold, despite being in style.
Price and practical features of each metal will help you decide, or if you’re still unsure you may also want to look at the jewellery your partner currently wears for inspiration. If they own a lot of yellow gold for example then it is wise to buy an engagement ring made from the same metal.
Type of Setting
Stone setting is a way of securely attaching stones to a piece of jewellery. It is also one of the more distinctive features in terms of how the ring is styled. There is a variety of techniques to choose from such as Claw, Bezel, and Channel. You can either have a setting which incorporates several claws to hold the gem in place or opt for a more invisible setting which creates a more seamless appearance. Each of these settings, just like metal will have their own pros and cons, so can discuss these options will us in-store. For now here is a general overview of some of the settings available.
Claw Setting: A small amount of metal is used to make up claw settings, great for allowing light to pass through the stone and also easy access to the stone for cleaning. Claw settings are made up of prongs, which are used when bent over the stone to secure in place.
Gypsy Setting: Used by the surrounding metal to set a stone, gypsy settings make the stone you are setting appear flush within the piece of jewellery. Gypsy, Bezels and Channels settings are the most secure and great for those with an active lifestyle or work a lot with their hands.
Bezel Setting: Bezel stone settings, or rub-over settings, require a tight wall of metal around the stone. It sits on a ledge of wire or a sheet of metal at the base, creating a wall and pushing it against the stone.
Illusion Setting: This type of stone setting is used to visually exaggerate the appearance of a small stone. Perfect for those wanting to make the most out of their diamond. This is done by a stone being set into a collet with a large wall.
Pave Setting: The word pave originates from the French meaning paved. Pave setting uses small stones to cover the surface of a piece of jewellery. Tiny beads of metal are pulled up from the surface and are pushed up over the stone.
Channel Setting: This type of stone setting is usually used in lines. Stones that are channel set are supported on two sides and underneath. The two sides are pushed down to tighten the stone in place on your jewellery stone setting.
Tension Setting: Using the metal surrounding it to secure stone in place, this stone setting requires tension through the metal to support the stone. A tension setting allows light to pass through it and show its full beauty.
Grain Setting: Grain settings consist of small stones in lines. Tiny beads or grains of metal are pulled up from the surface and are pushed up over the stone.
Type of Stone
The gemstone is the centrepiece of the ring and its most important element. Diamonds are of course the traditional choice for engagement rings and there are plenty of different styles or ‘cuts’ for you to choose from. Heart cuts would be a wonderful choice for Valentine’s Day. Traditionalists would be better off with Round cuts, whilst those looking for a more unique or vintage-inspired piece generally opt for Oval and Pear cuts. There are lots more cuts to choose from which can be found in more detail in this post. There are also coloured diamonds or ‘fancies’ to consider too. Again, if you would like more information you can talk to one of our experts in-store or read this post here.
So, there are some guide points to think about when choosing or designing an engagement ring. However, ultimately it’s taking those points and thinking about what you and your partner will enjoy or need. Are they quirky? Lead an active lifestyle? Prefer something understated or would like a talking piece? Consider who they are as a person and the perfect ring will form! If you need any help, advice or something bespoke please get in touch using the form below or get in touch by phone or in-store.