When choosing an engagement ring, or any piece of jewelry for that matter, a lot of time is spent discussing the gemstone. Diamond grades get a lot of attention, and for good reason, but they aren’t the only factor to consider when choosing the perfect piece for you. Choosing which precious metal is right for your setting is also a critical component to consider.
What to Consider
While you’re researching the 4 Cs of diamonds and comparing gemstones with your budget, it’s imperative to pay equal attention to specific metal choices for your setting. Why? Well, as the host for whatever gem you choose, picking an appropriate setting for your jewelry will ensure its durability (and beauty) for years to come.
Aside from form and function, however, there are other factors to keep in mind as well. For example, how much wear and tear your piece will need to endure over time, aesthetic preferences, and even certain metal allergies.
Wear and Tear
Depending upon what you’re purchasing, certain jewelry pieces can be subject to a great deal of damaging situations while others may be reserved for special occasions. Keeping this in mind, it’s important to know that different precious metals are highly durable while others can be extremely soft and easy to scratch or dull, or worse, damage.
If your piece is something that will be worn daily and be exposed to routine wear and tear, you’ll want to be sure and choose a metal that can stand up to the abuse. Platinum is an excellent choice for those in need of durability for the long-haul, while silver and higher-rated gold (anything above 14 karat) tend to be softer and more easily damaged.
While platinum is known for its strength and beautiful sheen, its silver tones aren’t always everyone’s cup of tea. It’s important to consider the color combination of gemstone to metal as well as personal preferences as far as aesthetics go. Some people prefer the warmer glow of yellow gold or the copper hues of rose gold.
If choosing a yellow gold, be sure to choose a piece with a lower karat rating if you also need strength. 24 karat gold (the highest rating) is valued for its purity but is known to be quite soft and highly prone to scratches and damage. The lower karats (10, 12, or 14 karats are good) are stronger due to their combination with strengthening metals such as copper, palladium, and nickel.
If you’re considering a yellow, white, or rose gold setting, it’s important to factor in any potential metal allergens. Rose gold (combined with copper for strength and tone), white gold, and some lower rated yellow golds will have other metal alloys used to maintain stability and durability.
In most cases this isn’t an issue, but metal allergies are actually quite common and should be considered before purchase. In fact, one of the most common metal allergies, nickel, has long been used as an alloy with gold jewelry pieces and can cause severe contact allergic dermatitis (rash).
Since no one wants to end up with an itchy rash under their favorite jewelry pieces, it helps to know your settings before purchase. If you have a known metal allergen, the safest bet is to stick with a hypoallergenic setting such as platinum in order to avoid the annoying rash.
If, however, you have already purchased a piece that is causing an allergic reaction, most jewelers offer coating services to have your piece re-coated in a more tolerated metal. Your best bet is to speak with your jeweler to come up with the best solution for your needs.