One of the biggest decisions people make when purchasing diamond jewelry is the determining what type of metal to use in a setting. Because each type of precious metal is different, being well-informed about its advantages and characteristics will help you find the best metal to create the perfect ring.
Diamond Jewelry: Gold
Gold has been around for centuries and exhibits tremendous resilience: it is non-corrosive and will not rust or tarnish. Although it is durable and strong, pure gold is still more pliable and soft when compared to other types of metal. Therefore, it is usually combined with silver and copper for increased strength.
The amount of gold in this mixture is referred to as carats:
24 carat gold: Pure gold, too soft for all types of jewelry
18 carat gold: A mixture of 75% gold and 25% metals (such as silver or copper). Found in very fine jewelry.
14 carat gold: Contains 58.3% gold and a mixture of metals make up the remaining amount. This is the most common type of gold in jewelry to withstand daily wear and tear.
10 carat gold: Contains 41.7% gold and is the minimum percentage allowed to still be classified as gold.
Diamond Jewelry: Yellow Gold
Yellow gold is an industry standard and beautifully compliments diamonds in all types of jewelry designs. The yellow color depends on the amount of pure gold found in the alloy (mixture). Many women still opt for yellow gold because it enables the diamond(s) to stand out in greater contrast. Yellow gold can also trick the eye into making slightly yellowish (lower color grade) diamonds appear more colorless.
Diamond Jewelry: White Gold
The most popular color of the past decade, white gold exhibits a silver liquid appearance and is versatile with all wardrobes and color schemes. White gold jewelry is usually rhodium plated, since white gold is not naturally white but actually has a slight yellowish tint. Rhodium plating is very common and because it is not permanent and will wear over time, most white gold jewelry will need to be re-plated to bring it back to the silvery white color.
Diamond Jewelry: Rose Gold
Still a relatively low-key player on the jewelry scene, rose gold is made with copper as its main alloy which gives it its pinkish hue. Its cost will be around the same price as other gold, but it is not readily available in all jewelry stores and may need to be special ordered.
Diamond Jewelry: Platinum
A highly durable and strong metal, platinum has a rich liquid metal sheen which compliments the sparkle of diamonds. Not only does it have incredible strength, it is naturally silvery white in color and never needs to be re-plated. Platinum is also a heavier weighted metal and some people enjoy the solid weight of a platinum engagement ring on their finger, while others prefer a lighter feel. Platinum does develop a satin sheen finish from receiving tiny scratches when worn on a daily basis. Ironically, many people prefer the sheen and opt not to get it polished periodically by a jeweler.
Platinum is also a rare and pure metal, making it more expensive than any other type used in diamond jewelry.
Diamond Jewelry: Palladium
Palladium is a member of the platinum family and often considered a “sister” metal to platinum. Like platinum, it is naturally white in color, light weight, does not need to be rhodium plated, 95% pure, will not tarnish or rust, and is hypoallergenic. Ironically, it is highly affordable and similarly priced to gold when used in jewelry.
Images courtesy of James Allen, Blue Nile and JWest Designs.