Metals play a significant role in the creation and design of contemporary, fine rings in terms of appearance, cost and durability. With such a dramatic impact, it’s important for anyone interested in wearing or purchasing rings to develop a basic understanding of the metals used in their formation.
There are several choices of metals for use in ring making. By having basic knowledge of different metals, their benefits over one another and their unique characteristics, you will be able to make an informed and profitable purchase of rings in future.
On a broader scale, metal can be classified into three different categories:
Ferrous vs. Non-Ferrous Metals
Ferrous metals contain iron while non-ferrous metals do not. Most jewelry is made from non-ferrous metal; otherwise it tends to rust, except stainless steel jewelry.
Base vs. Noble Metals
Base metals are found abundantly and tend to corrode and oxidize relatively easily, for example iron, copper, nickel and titanium. Noble metals are rare, have a high surface luster and are resistant to oxidization, for example gold, silver and platinum. Noble metals are largely used in jewelry making.
Precious vs. Non-Precious Metal
The difference between the two types is mainly of rarity and value. Precious metals include gold, silver and platinum while non-precious metals include all others.
Platinum is a dense, white metal that is extremely rare and thus more precious than gold. Due to its rarity, platinum is significantly more expensive than gold – a platinum ring will be roughly twice the price of an 18kt white gold ring and will feel much heavier. Platinum is extremely long wearing and resistant to tarnishing.
Despite the higher cost, the use of platinum in jewelry making has considerably increased, especially in platinum wedding and engagement rings for both women and men. Platinum is often preferred for its classy appeal and is a prestige choice among the rich. It can also be used to make dress rings but platinum is not generally used in other jewelry items such as earrings, bracelets, pendants or necklaces.
Like other metals, platinum is mixed with other metals for jewelry making. However, a piece of jewelry should have a minimum of 5% pure platinum for it to be considered platinum jewelry.
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Titanium is a natural occurring element with a silver-white tone. It is the toughest natural metal – three times the strength of steel and harder than gold, silver and platinum. Despite its hardness, titanium is very light weight.
Pure titanium is 100% hypo-allergenic making it safe for anyone to wear. The metal is strong, bend resistant and scratch proof when compared to gold, silver and platinum. However, a drawback of the strength of titanium is that is cannot be soldered, meaning that titanium rings cannot be resized. The variety of titanium engagement rings available is therefore very limited. It is, however, popular in making earrings and bracelets for both women and men.
Tungsten is a very strong and durable metal, also quite heavy. A unique characteristic of tungsten is that it is highly scratch resistant. Tungsten offers permanent polish – it always stays new and shiny.
The grey-white color and durability of tungsten make it a popular choice for men’s wedding rings. However, tungsten rings cannot be resized.
Palladium has a silver-grey-white color and is similar to platinum in appearance, but less expensive. Due to its strength and affordability, palladium is well suited for engagement rings and wedding rings.