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There's no denying it - choosing engagement and wedding rings is a big deal. You'll wear them every day for years to come, so it's important to get it right. What if you change your mind? What if it goes out of fashion? There are so many factors to consider - style, diamond cut and quality, and metal type.
It is thought that the first wedding rings made from woven reeds or leather were exchanged in Ancient Egypt. Since then, yellow or white gold has been a traditional favourite for wedding jewellery, and even more recently platinum has taken over as one of the most popular metals.
Here are the most popular metals that you may wish to consider when designing your engagement, wedding and eternity rings.
Yellow gold has been a popular choice to use in jewellery design for centuries. It is a classic metal which is practical both to wear and to repair or remodel. Pure 24 carat gold is too soft to be used for jewellery, so it is combined with other stronger metals to create an alloy for the purposes of jewellery making.
It is most commonly made into 18 carat (75% gold) and 9 carat (37.5% gold) blends, with 18ct being a good choice for wedding rings, being durable enough to wear daily but also retaining a shiny yellow appearance and high gold content.[gallery size="full" ids="1472,1473,1474"]
Yellow gold can be used to create the full setting of your ring, or as a part of the ring in a mixed metal design. Meghan, the Duchess of Cambridge, wears a ring with a white setting for the diamond, but a yellow gold band.[gallery columns="2" size="full" ids="1470,1471"]
Why we love it: Timeless and classic, yellow gold is shiny and contrasts well with your diamonds.
White gold has a shiny, silvery tone and is created when yellow gold is alloyed with a white metal or several white metals, such as nickel, magnesium or palladium. White gold became popular in the 1920’s with art deco style jewellery and has continued to be a favourite for engagement and wedding rings ever since.[gallery columns="2" size="full" ids="1475,1476"]
White gold has long been seen as an affordable alternative to platinum. However, with recent fluctuations in metal prices, at the time of writing there is very little difference between the price of white gold an the price of platinum.
One of the slight downsides to white gold is that it is often enhanced by rhodium plating to make it more silvery and bright. Rhodium plating can wear slightly over time, so white gold will start to appear more yellow in tone over time. After all, it does contain yellow gold.
Why we love it: White gold can be easily renewed to a shiny, brand new appearance with Rhodium plating.
Platinum is known as the most expensive of the commonly used wedding jewellery metals because it is relatively more rare. It has a soft, satin-like finish, and is naturally hypoallergenic, being perfect for sensitive skin. It is also hard, heavy and durable, making it a practical, hard wearing and classic metal for everyday jewellery such as wedding rings.
Platinum is particularly popular with brides and grooms for engagement and wedding rings. Its durability and strength make it brilliant for setting diamonds and other precious gemstones. Although platinum can scratch and become less shiny over time if it comes into contact with stronger materials, it can be easily re-polished.
Why we love it: Pure, silver-toned, hypoallergenic and hardwearing, platinum is the new 'gold standard' for wedding jewellery. As a bonus, the price of platinum has reduced relative to gold, so is now a more comparatively affordable metal.
Rose gold engagement and wedding rings have become more popular with the increasing use of the metal in jewellery and its popularity as a tone in fashion, from mobile phones to shoes and nail polish. Rose gold contains copper to give it its rich, warm pink tone.
It can also look very striking with mix of two or more gold tones in the same band, such as a tradition Russian wedding ring, or as a stylish alternative to yellow and white gold. The colour of rose gold depends on the ratio of copper to gold, ranging from a soft pink to a deep red.[gallery size="full" ids="1481,1479,1480"]
Why we love it: Feminine, a little bit different and very stylish, rose gold is a lovely alternative to the more traditional white or yellow gold designs.
Titanium and Palladium are both increasingly common metals for wedding jewellery, particularly men's wedding bands. They have a very slightly different hue to Platinum, being a little less silvery-white, but overall look very similar.
Titanium rings are lightweight but durable, with a lustrous grey tone. Palladium is even harder than platinum and much more affordable. However, the strength of these metals means they are more difficult to cut and resize, so are more suited to plain bands than intricate designs.
Whichever metal you choose, ask your jeweller for details of how best to maintain and refresh your rings over time, to keep them looking their best.