One of the biggest decisions you’ll make when shopping for an engagement ring is your choice of precious metal. Your choice of precious metal will affect your ring’s style, how practical your ring will be for your lifestyle, and how flattering your ring will be against your skin. So, as you weigh your precious metal options, you’ll want to consider all three of these factors. And to help you do that, we’ve written this guide to determining which ring metal is right for you. Below, we’re going over the style, practicality, and undertone of your four precious metal options: yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, and platinum.
Yellow gold is a traditional precious metal that’s loved for its classic look. Yellow gold wedding bands and engagement rings have a gleaming golden beauty that’s simply timeless, making them a great option for anyone with a classic sense of style.
In general, yellow gold is a very durable precious metal that’s great for everyday wear. But when you shop for a yellow gold ring, you’ll have to decide on your gold karatage, which will affect your gold jewelry’s durability.
Gold karat, not to be confused with diamond carat, is a notation that tells you how much gold is in a gold alloy. Pure gold is 24 karats, but pure gold is too soft to be used in jewelry. So almost all of the gold used in jewelry will be a metal alloy that contains pure gold and a mixture of other, stronger metals. Most commonly, you’ll see 18k yellow gold and 14k yellow gold used in jewelry. 18k yellow gold contains more pure gold, so it’s a bit softer than 14k yellow gold. But since 18k yellow gold contains more pure gold than 14k yellow gold, it will also have a slightly deeper golden color. If you love the classic beauty of yellow gold, consider what’s more important to you: having a ring with a deeper golden color or having a ring that’s more resistant to scratching. This will help you decide whether 14 karat or 18 karat yellow gold would best or you.
Yellow gold is quite a warm precious metal, so it tends to look the most flattering on those with warm skin undertones. Yellow gold can also look lovely on those with neutral skin undertones, since people with neutral skin undertones will have some warm undertones in their skin.
White gold is a chic, modern precious metal that has a beautifully sophisticated look. In addition to being extraordinarily elegant, white gold is incredibly reflective. White gold is plated in rhodium, which is the most reflective precious metal on earth. Because white gold features a coat of rhodium, it can make a diamond engagement ring look even more glamorous, as the luster of this precious metal will capture and reflect the shimmer of brilliant gemstones. So, white gold is a stunning option for someone who wants a sophisticated ring that’s not short on glamour.
As we mentioned above, white gold is plated in rhodium. This makes white gold look beautifully shiny and white, but it also means that white gold requires a bit more upkeep than other precious metals. White gold requires more upkeep because its rhodium plating will slowly wear off over time. It is easy and fairly inexpensive to have a white gold ring re-dipped in rhodium, but it does require making an occasional trip to the jewelers. On everyday rings, rhodium plating usually begins to wear off after a year or two. Many people don’t care that white gold will need to be re-plated over time. But if you’re interested in choosing a precious metal with a white color and that sounds too high maintenance for you, you may want to consider your other white precious metal option: platinum.
White gold is a cool-toned, icy-looking precious metal, so it tends to be very flattering on those with cool skin undertones. White gold can also look beautiful on those with neutral skin undertones, since they will have some cool undertones within their skin.
Rose gold is pure gold that has been mixed with copper and silver metals. The copper within rose gold is what gives it its beautiful rosy-pink color, which makes rose gold look highly romantic. In addition to being romantic, rose gold is a rather unique choice for an engagement ring. While rose gold has been more trendy in recent years, this type of metal is still a rare choice for an engagement ring or wedding ring, giving it a stand-out look.
Since rose gold contains copper, a very strong metal, it’s the most durable type of gold. So, generally, rose gold is a very practical and low maintenance precious metal.
While rose gold is generally low maintenance, one thing to consider about rose gold is its patina. The copper in rose gold means it will form a patina over time. When copper is exposed to air, it reacts by creating a sort of film over itself, which is called a patina. The patina that forms on rose gold tends to look dark pink or red, making rose gold look richer over time. Many people absolutely love that rose gold forms a patina, since it makes it look beautifully vintage. But if you do not like the look of a patina, you will have to occasionally have your rose gold engagement ring or wedding ring professionally cleaned to restore its original shine.
Rose gold is the most universally flattering precious metal. Rose gold has a neutral undertone with both warm and cool notes, so it looks fantastic on people with neutral, warm, or cool skin undertones.
Platinum is a luxe, bright white metal that is timelessly beautiful. This elegant, chic precious metal looks quite similar to white gold, so it has a very similar style to white gold. However, platinum and white gold have a number of practical differences, which can affect which you prefer for your engagement ring.
Platinum is an extremely strong and durable metal, and it will never tarnish. Out of every precious metal on this list, it requires the least amount of maintenance over time. Additionally, another big pro of platinum is the fact that it’s hypoallergenic. Unlike some gold alloy metals, platinum doesn’t contain any nickel or copper, making a platinum ring a good option for those with these common metal allergies.
The primary practical drawback of platinum is its price. Platinum is highly rare, which means it’s the most expensive precious metal on this list. However, many people find the higher price of platinum worth it, since platinum is so beautiful, durable, and pure.
Like white gold, platinum is a cool-toned precious metal. So, platinum looks highly complementary on those with cool or neutral skin tones.
Ready to find your perfect yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, or platinum engagement ring? Browse our collection of award-winning, handmade engagement ring designs.