Some people make the mistake of only thinking about the gemstone or diamond that they want. It is equally important to choose the right metal. There is a variety of metal options available, including precious metals such as gold, silver, platinum, or less traditional metals such as titanium, tungsten and palladium.
The metal choice is ultimately a personal one, and each choice has advantages and disadvantages. See below for a summary of the most popular metals to help you make an informed decision when buying your wedding or engagement ring.
Not sure what wedding ring metal to go with? Start with the seven metals below, keeping in mind that achieving maximum durability or hardness often comes with sacrifices in other areas, like the ability to customise or resize or a loss of lustre over time. Consider all your needs when zeroing in on the perfect metal for your wedding band.
Silver, platinum and palladium are referred to as white metals when it comes to jewellery. Silver is the more common of the three, as well as being the least pricey. Silver rings are made from sterling silver, which is an alloy (a mixture of metals). Sterling silver has to contain a minimum of 92.5% of silver. Copper usually makes up the remaining percentage. This alloy is necessary because pure silver is quite malleable – meaning it could bend out of shape over time. Adding copper increases the hardness of the silver and makes it less malleable.
Platinum and palladium rings are on the more expensive end of the wedding ring spectrum. They, too, are not composed of the single metals and are alloyed with other metals to improve their properties. Rings made from these two metals often have a purity of 95%. The remaining percentage is usually ruthenium, iridium, or rhodium. Platinum rings have the highest density of the metals considered in the graphic; this means they feel weightier.
Like silver, pure gold is too malleable to fashion jewellery from. When alloyed with other metals, superior properties can be achieved, along with a range of colours.
Yellow gold maintains the characteristic hue of gold, but silver and small copper make it suitably resilient. Rose gold also contains copper and silver along with the gold, but the slightly higher amount of copper gives it a coppery hue. White gold, meanwhile, is an alloy commonly composed of gold with palladium or platinum. It has more of a silvery than a golden appearance. This is due to the fact that it’s often plated with rhodium, adding hardness and a silvery shine.
Gold ring purity can be measured in carats. 24-carat gold is 100% gold, which you won’t find in a ring due to gold’s softness. 18-carat gold is more common (75% gold), while 14 carat (58.5%) gold is cheaper due to the lower gold content.
Titanium, zirconium, tungsten and steel are increasingly common wedding ring metals. They have the advantage of being cheaper than metals like gold and platinum, as well as being more durable.
As with the previous metals we’ve examined, though they’re referred to by the name of the main metal they contain, they’re all a mix of metals. Titanium rings are commonly made from aircraft-grade titanium, an alloy with small amounts of vanadium and aluminium added. These rings have the lowest density of any of the materials featured in the graphic, meaning they’re particularly light for their size.
Tungsten rings are made from tungsten carbide, a compound of tungsten and carbon which is one of the hardest known materials. If you’ve got a ring made from tungsten carbide, worrying about your ring getting scratched isn’t a thing – if anything, you’re worried about your ring scratching other objects. However, its extreme hardness can also make it prone to shattering.
Tungsten carbide rings also have a small amount of cobalt added to improve their malleability. Cobalt is also a ring material in its own right, though it’s not featured in the graphic; it’s commonly alloyed with chromium.
Black zirconium rings are created by oxidising zirconium metal to produce a black coating of zirconium oxide. This is then polished to produce a smooth, black surface. It has a low density combined with a good hardness that makes it difficult to scratch. Normal zirconium rings are also sometimes seen.
Finally, stainless steel rings are perhaps less glamorous-sounding but also quite resilient. Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon; stainless steel contains a minimum of 10.5% chromium.
Strongest Metals for Wedding Bands
These reddish-gold options (sometimes called pink or rose) are created by adding copper to the alloys in this ring. The ring’s colour varies on the copper content of the ring, which varies with the different karats. This colour choice is more suited for warm skin tones and tends to deepen with age.
White gold is usually a mixture of white metals, such as palladium and silver, with pure gold. It is a popular option because it looks good on a variety of skin tones. White gold can be more expensive than other gold types, depending on the metal it is mixed with. Some white gold can be rhodium-plated, which wears off and requires (ideally) annual replating. The bonus of this is that rhodium-plating improves whiteness and durability; it is also hypoallergenic. It will lower/eliminate any risk of any reaction to the metal if you have sensitive skin.
Silver is a popular metal. Like gold, pure silver is too soft to be used in jewellery, combined with alloy metals. It is the most affordable of the precious metals. Sterling silver can range from bright white to grey white, and can have a matte or shiny finish and must contain at least 92.5% pure silver (printed as 925 on silver jewellery). Non-sterling silver contains less pure silver and more alloy metals.
While mixed silver is affordable, it can cause allergic reactions and is not as shiny as other higher weight silver alternatives. It can also look the part, but is damaged easily and so better suited for occasional wear, for this reason, we do not recommend using silver for wedding or engagement bands.
Platinum is the most desired as it is the highest standard of metal available for rings due to its quality, durability, and beauty. Depending on market conditions, platinum can be the most expensive metal option. However, it is extremely durable as it is 90% to 95% pure, and its colour sets off the brilliance of a diamond incredibly well. Since platinum is a dense metal, it will feel heavier on the hand than the alternatives. Its white metal colour complements any precious stone or diamond, so makes ring design easier.
Palladium is one of the rarest minerals in the world. Palladium is usually mixed with five per cent other alloy metals. Lighter than platinum and very durable, palladium has a natural whiteness that doesn’t tarnish, making it low maintenance. An advantage to palladium rings is that they are hypoallergenic, so anyone can wear them. They are also scratch-resistant.
Recent changes in the world market have to lead to palladium effectively becoming more expensive in jewellery than platinum, so, for this reason, we recently chose to stop listing palladium as an option on our website.
What kind of wear and tear will my ring go through?
Platinum, a rare and precious metal, is a popular choice for both engagement rings and wedding bands because it’s strong and durable. That’s why it’s an especially good choice for someone who works with their hands or whose ring will experience a significant amount of wear and tear. If you’re set on gold, a lower karat is a better choice-the higher the karat, the purer the gold is, which means it’s more susceptible to scratching. But gold that’s been hardened with an alloy will also maintain a ring’s character over a lifetime of daily wear. Need something even stronger? You’ll want to consider alternative metals like tungsten and titanium.
Will my ring have prongs that hold a diamond?
For an engagement ring, you’ll want to consider how well your metal can hold a diamond in place, especially if it will be prong-set. Of course, a good jeweller can make nearly anything work, but strength is an important consideration. If you’ll be setting a sizable diamond, platinum prongs might be the right choice for you.
Do I want to engrave?
“Platinum holds fine details like engraving the best, but soft metals like gold and silver work, too. A few factors determine whether or not an engagement ring can be engraved, though, including bandwidth. Hence, it’s important to discuss it with your jeweller before purchasing if this is non-negotiable.
How much upkeep am I interested in?
A yellow gold ring is a good choice for someone who likes warm-coloured metals and wants minimal upkeep, especially if you choose 14 karat gold, which is less likely to scratch than 18 karats. You’ll likely want your rings cleaned or shined from time to time, but they won’t require major upkeep.
On the other hand, white gold, which is made by adding an alloy like nickel to yellow gold, often needs to be dipped in rhodium to maintain its colour and shine over the years. If you like its signature silver colour but want something that requires less refinishing, try platinum, which never changes colours. Similarly, palladium won’t change colour or tarnish, but it scratches easily.
Are the metals responsibly sourced?
For some, it matters more where the metals are coming from. “Many of our couples express an interest in where their gold is coming from. By using fair-mined certified gold, which is the same material used for the actual Nobel Peace Prize, newlyweds get to support responsible practices, social development, and environmental protection in small-scale mining communities.
Platinum and Palladium
Platinum is one of the rarest precious metals and also one of the most expensive. Rings made from platinum are more resistant to breakage, chipping and cracking than those made from gold. The platinum density is higher than gold, making platinum jewellery about 25% heavier than 18K gold jewellery and 50% heavier than 14K gold jewellery. A ring made from platinum will provide a secure home for your diamond.
Platinum is usually softer than gold. However, it is more durable over time and will not wear down as much as gold will. Platinum is very pure and will not cause irritation for people with allergies to certain metals. Platinum is considered the finest metal for ring design by many. Since platinum jewellery purchased from Temple & Grace is guaranteed to be manufactured from a 950 quality platinum alloy, it makes it ideal for customers who think they may have allergenic problems with certain metals.
Palladium If you are looking for platinum but can’t afford the price tag, palladium is for you. This metal has many of the same qualities as platinum at a much lower cost. It is rarer and more precious than white gold, has a similar price tag, will not tarnish and is more durable over time, making it an excellent choice for those looking at 14k white gold. Palladium alloys used for making Temple & Grace jewellery are 95% pure palladium and 5% of other platinum group metals such as iridium and ruthenium. The palladium alloys are white, hypoallergenic, lightweight and durable.
What carat metal should my wedding ring be?
One of the most important choices you’ll make about your wedding ring will be the material used to make it. Each metal has different properties and benefits, so it’s worth taking a moment to consider the options.
The traditional choices are white and yellow gold. Still, other metals such as platinum and platinum are also popular choices, as well as more alternative metals such as titanium and tungsten.
One quick thing to note is that considering the wedding and engagement ring will be worn together, and we would always recommend that you choose the same metal for both. The reason is that some metals are harder than others, so doing this will minimise wear and tear.
With that proviso, let’s take a look at the different metals.
Yellow gold rings are a traditional choice. Jewellery doesn’t tend to be made out of pure, 24 carat Gold because it’s too soft, especially given the amount of time you plan on wearing your wedding ring. When combined with other stronger metals though, it’s a great option. 18ct gold and 9ct gold rings contain 75% and 37.5% pure gold, respectively; both make strong wedding bands and can be crafted to make detailed rings in a variety of settings.
People don’t often realise that white gold rings are also made with yellow gold, alloyed with other ‘white’ metals, such as nickel or zinc, to give it its silvery-white colour. It’s plated with rhodium to give it a hard, reflective surface with extra shine. In a similar manner, rose gold is a mixture of yellow gold with other metals such as copper to give it its rich, warm hue and is also a popular choice.
Platinum rings are the most expensive of the commonly used noble metals because of their rarity. It is naturally hypoallergenic, making it great for people with sensitive skin. The appearance is a soft, satin-like finish. It is hard and durable, and many enjoy its heaviness.
Palladium is from the same family as platinum and shares the same silvery, polished look, and hypoallergenic properties. While it used to be significantly more affordable than platinum, it’s no longer quite so clear-cut, now that it is increasingly being used in car catalytic converters and demand for it has soared !
As well as precious metals, some other modern, durable metals have become fashionable for wedding rings. These alternative metals offer contemporary looks to wedding bands.
Titanium rings are wonderfully lightweight and have a lustrous grey tone. It is very durable meaning it will hold its shape; however, its strength means it’s harder to cut and resize, so the design options are slightly limited.
Tungsten is extremely strong. Tungsten rings don’t scratch or tarnish and will stay shiny. Similarly to titanium, it’s a favourite among men though its strength means it can’t be resized.
We hope this primer has been a helpful starting point for considering your wedding ring metal choices.
There are a lot of options when it comes to finding the strongest metal for wedding bands. It may seem overwhelming at first, so don’t hesitate to ask jewellers for help. Head to your jeweller, try on rings, ask questions, and see which strong ring you like be