Precious metals are widely used in making jewellery from diamond rings to bracelets to earrings and cufflinks. The most well-known and widely used in the jewellery industry are gold, silver and platinum.
The definition of a precious metal is one that is deemed to be rare and therefore have a high monetary value. Precious metals are naturally occurring metallic chemical elements that are less reactive than their sister group, Noble Metals. Due to their high patina, they beautifully complement diamonds as the light bounces off the metallic surface which gives a striking and radiant shine. They are also pliable and flexible which allows for metals such as White, Rose or Yellow gold to be formed.
Whilst the diamond within a ring is undoubtedly the focus of the piece, it is the colour, weight and quality of the band on which the diamond is set that is an equally important factor to consider when choosing a ring. Therefore before you decide on a band, we strongly suggest that you know the differences between some of the most popular precious metals used for ring bands, their durability and aftercare – namely of 18 karat white gold, 18 karat yellow gold and platinum which are the precious metals that we recommend for diamond jewellery.
18k White Gold
18 karat white gold is a manmade substance that is usually made from 75% gold metal and 25% of white metal such as nickel, manganese, platinum or palladium – however, this ratio often changes. This high content of gold makes white gold more precious and ideal for diamond jewellery. It is also more affordable than some other precious metals.
Originally 18 karat white gold starts life as slightly yellow in colour and is electroplated in Rhodium to give it strength, protection and that stunning white finish that is so desirable.
The first use of white gold is thought to have dated back to World War Two when jewellers created it as a replacement for platinum. During this time the government banned the use of platinum to make jewellery and other luxury goods in America, so that the materials could be used to make armaments. As platinum had such a beautiful white finish, jewellers wanted to created something that would give the same aesthetic and so 18 karat white gold was born.
18 karat white gold is an incredibly versatile material. It is a timeless classic and looks fabulous as a setting for diamonds however, if you have a nickel allergy then 18 karat white gold is best avoided.
To maintain the white finish on 18k white gold rings avoid washing your hands while wearing the ring, showering, swimming, applying cream etc., as this will all tarnish its appearance.
18k Yellow Gold
19 karat yellow gold was the traditional metal used for engagement rings and has recently become popular once more due largely to its majestic look and the fact that it looks stunning when used in halo or vintage ring designs which are currently very much sought after. Pure gold is too soft to use in jewellery making and therefore 18 karat yellow gold contains 75% gold, this is usually mixed with silver to strengthen the metal and copper and to retain the bright yellow colour.
Yellow gold was first popularised as far back as the Ancient Egyptians and Pharaohs, Roman Emperors and Royalty all over the world have been draped in yellow gold since the beginning of civilisation. 18 karat white gold is a timeless precious metal that evokes opulence and wealth and will never go out of fashion.
If you decide to select 18 karat yellow gold as the setting for an engagement rings, we suggest that you select a colourless or near colourless diamond (D-H) and if the collet (the claw portion holding the diamond) is in 18k white gold or platinum this will work together to bring out the whiteness of the diamond. If however the diamond is slightly yellow or brown (J-L), you can opt for an 18 karat yellow gold ring setting so as not to highlight the warmth in the stone against a white metal.
18 karat yellow gold is the most hypoallergenic of all the three gold colours and the easiest to maintain. It beautifully complements those with olive and darker skin tones. 18 karat yellow gold can be easily marked and dented, so it is very important that it is looked after correctly and keep the stunning shine and clarity of this metal in your piece of jewellery, 18 karat yellow gold needs to be regularly shined and polished.
Platinum is one of the world’s strongest metals and is renowned for making engagement rings, diamond necklaces and other pieces of jewellery as it is undoubtedly a stunningly beautiful metal that brings out the sparkle and shine in any diamond.
Platinum has very rich history and after its initial discovery in 1735, was highly valued by Ancient Egyptians and Pre-Columbian Indians. It is considered as a modern metal, due to the origins of its name. Before getting the name ‘platinum’, it was referred to as ‘white gold’ due to its silver and white colour. However, when this beautiful, metal was re-discovered by the 17th century Spanish conquerors it was renamed to ‘platinum’ the reason being that the word derives from the Spanish word ‘Platina’ meaning ‘silver’. Following this re-discovery, platinum was introduced to Europe in the 18th Century, and it is thought that in early 1800s, British Chemist W. H. Wollaston was the first person to obtain a pure sample of this noble metal.
Platinum is rarer and more precious than gold with a higher purity content of 95% and is strong and durable. Being is hypoallergenic and naturally white in colour platinum jewellery will not tarnish and will generally last and hold its beauty for more than a lifetime.
Platinum is slightly more expensive than gold and loses very little metal when scratched. Over time, due to the nature of the metal, it can appear to dull so would require the occasional professional polish.
Whilst Platinum and 18 karat white Gold may look very similar it is important to acknowledge that they are not the same materials. Platinum is much denser than white gold, and will therefore feel heavier than 18 karat white gold, making white gold jewellery much easier and more comfortable to wear. Aesthetically, both platinum and white gold are alike, but platinum is naturally white. Although 18 karat white gold will wear off and fade (giving off a yellowish tinge) once it is replated in Rhodium it will have a white appearance.
Despite platinum being more durable than white gold, it scratches much easier. If you are choosing jewellery for everyday wear, such as a diamond engagement ring, it is advisable to choose 18 karat white gold, as it will not show as much surface damage.
Whilst the metal that you choose as the band for your diamond ring is largely based on personal preference and style, it is helpful to consider the main differences in composition and price. The experts here at Reve Diamonds are happy to help with advice on the choosing the perfect engagement ring with the perfect diamond and with a precious metal setting that will combine to be a real head turner —all while staying in budget.