Which precious metal is right for you or your partner?
When choosing between metals for heirloom-quality jewellery, the big three considerations are colour, strength and comfort (or wearability).
If buying for yourself, you probably already know what you want, but if designing a ring that’s going to be a surprise, here are some simple pointers.
Take note of your partner’s favourite jewellery
If your partner wears a lot of yellow jewellery, go for yellow gold. If their jewellery is mostly ‘white’, go for either white gold, palladium or platinum. If it’s rose gold, there’s your answer.
Alternatively, if they don’t tend to wear much jewellery at all, or they seem to have no clear colour preference, talk to us and we will help you with the decision.
One other thing to consider when choosing the metal colour is the colour of the stones that will be set in the ring. (We can help you with that too.)
We almost always recommend platinum when high-value diamonds and gemstones are involved.
It’s the strongest and least likely to fail and the marginal extra cost is worthwhile insurance.
Palladium is a a good option too, but jewellers tend to describe it as being ‘buttery’, meaning it can be misshapen more easily.
It’s still a good choice though if you want something not quite so hefty and is a very bright white.
And gold, whilst the most popular jewellary choice, is also the softest and is more easily worn away than metals from the platinum family.
In particular you need to consider skin allergies and reactions (see below).
Platinum and palladium are both hypoallergenic, so very safe choices if you or your partner are prone to skin reactions from contact with jewellery.
Palladium: What is it?
Palladium is a noble (inert) white metal and member of the platinum family. It shares many characteristics with platinum – including being hypoallergenic.
Durable and radiant bright white
Palladium offers a more radiant white than (un-plated) white gold.
With a weight similar to fine silver, it also has a lower specific gravity. That makes it an excellent choice for large, wide wedding rings.
Also, being lighter than platinum, you need less metal weight for your jewellery piece.
A great alternative to white gold
Palladium is a great alternative to white gold. Like platinum, it is inert and shouldn’t cause skin irritation. However, it’s not ideal for super fine or claw set rings as it can be a little ‘buttery’.
Design plays a big part in metal choice. Over the years we have learned what works best and are happy to guide you through the decision making process.
All metals will get scratched
Whilst platinum and palladium are beautiful and durable white metals, they can scratch. In fact, all precious metals scratch!
How much they get scratched depends on how you care for your rings and it’s important to accept this.
You must take care when putting your hands in abrasive substances such as soil or sand. Precious jewellery and hard physical labour tend not to go well together.
Why not silver?
Even though a lot of jewellery is made with silver (that is very often recycled in origin), when it comes to fine handmade jewellery, it isn’t a good choice.
Labour cost means hand making is uneconomic
Whilst silver is certainly a lot cheaper than gold or platinum (where you might pay $90 — $100 for a gram of gold, you’ll pay only $6 – $10 for a gram of silver), that’s where the savings end.
Labour cost is the ‘killer’.
In terms of time, it takes just as long to hand make a ring out of silver as it does to make one out of gold.
It’s a bit like spending too much money doing up a house – you’ll never get the value back again.
Too ‘cheap’ for fine quality jewellery
To get something hand made in silver you’ll pay up to ten times more than a similar retail item, so the value isn’t there.
For gold and platinum, the gap between mass-made retail jewellery and hand-made bespoke jewellery is much, much narrower. So the small premium you might pay is well worth it to get something that’s unique and exactly what you want.
Another downside with silver is that it tarnishes and needs regular polishing. You can rhodium plate it, but that’s expensive given the value of the base metal.