So you’re well and truly on the hunt now for that perfect ring.
You’ve worked out the basic look you’re after and you now want to work out what colour to choose – and what to pay for it!
There are two factors really, that you want to consider when choosing the base metal for your ring.
- The preciousness and value of the metal.
- What colour you like/ what looks best on the hand.
When we’re talking about the value of a metal we are looking at a few basic types of metal. The main one is gold. There are several sub-types of gold: yellow, white, rose and green. The three you see most often are yellow, white and rose gold.
You might also see platinum, titanium and silver. These can all seem very similar to white gold, but if you look closely you can see the difference. This is not an exhaustive list, mind you. There are at least half a dozen more types of metal you could use to create your perfect ring.
First of all, I’ll tell you a bit about how the different types of gold are made.
Most of us are very familiar with the idea of gold being measured in carats/karats. The first thing to know here is that if you’re on a UK site they’ll talk in Carats about the purity of the gold. If you’re on a US site they’ll talk about Karats. When you’re talking about gold, it could be 9k or 9ct and be the exact same thing. (We also talk carats for weight of diamonds, but we’re talking about metals now, so we’ll leave that subject for another time.)
The carat rating of gold can be seen fairly easily by the colour. The reason the colour is different is because 9k gold isn’t pure gold and neither is 18k. There is more pure gold in 18k gold than in 9k. The difference is made up with a different kind of metal. The most common metals used to create an alloy with gold are zinc, silver and copper, with palladium, platinum or nickel added in for white gold.The actual blend is up to the jeweller creating the metal.
The most pure form of gold that is used for jewellery is 24k – which is 99.75% pure gold. (Purer gold does exist but it isn’t used for jewellery.)
From there, the number of karats decrease according to how much other metal is added to the mix. The more pure gold is contained in the alloy, the softer the overall metal, so your 9k gold will actually be stronger than your 24k and will be more durable. Still, the more gold there is in your gold jewellery, the greater the value.
Your ring may have a marking on it which is a number in the hundreds rather than the usual 9, 18, 24 etc. This number relates to the percentage of pure gold that is in the metal. If 24 carat gold is 99.9% pure, its number is 999. Likewise, 9 carat is 37.5% so will bear a 375, 14 carat is 58.5% pure (585) and 18 carat is 75% pure so will carry a marking of 750.
When you’re talking about which gold to buy for something you or someone you love wants to wear, the worth of the piece is as much in how it will look on the skin as how much value the metal or the stones have themselves. Different skin tones suit different metals. There are many white-hued metals which mean that if a person would choose silver, they might also like white gold or platinum, which are almost identical to the untrained eye.
The whiter metals are interesting in themselves. While silver is much more economical, it is a softer metal. Jewellery is generally made from a silver alloy, called sterling silver. This alloy is strong enough to make a durable piece of jewellery. Of the three metals above, silver is the most economoical.
Platinum is the rarest of the three, so is more precious. It feels heavier to the touch. It takes more platinum to make a ring than it does if you use white gold. White gold has the bonus of being stronger and will need less frequent polishing, since it doesn’t scratch as easily. Of these three metals, white gold is the strongest.
Ove the last year or two the colour of rose gold seems to have started appearing everywhere, from iphones to hair dye. So if someone is a fan of the rose gold rather than the yellow or white they’ll get a better deal, with a lower price and more durable jewellery – copper being stronger than pure gold.
As for pricing of all the metals, pure gold is about ten times the price of pure silver. Platinum is between the two – but remember that neither gold nor silver jewellery is pure, whereas platinum is closest to pure with a 95% platinum alloy able to be used. Platinum is a denser metal so a ring the same size and shape will cost more in platinum because the cost is measured by weight.
There are sites where you can check out the current price of precious metals, which is a nice reference if you want to have a really good look at what things are worth. This Price List has a link to several precious metals in AUD.
But what really matters is that you love the piece that you have. If the thing you love is the stone, you might want to reduce the karat of your metal, or swap platinum for white gold, or even sterling silver. Likewise, if you only love the colour of 24k yellow gold piece, then you can talk to your jeweller about other options for the stone or settting to keep it within your budget.
We would love to talk to you and help you to find what you are looking for. Click here for more information about our design and remodelling services.