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Metal Choices for Engagement and Wedding Bands

Metal Choices for Engagement and Wedding Rings

Learn about the modern world of jewelry metals – from hard, sturdy and brilliantly shiny to soft, luxurious and romantic, and everything in between.

Primary Metals


Appearance: Soft, white hue. Does not tarnish or oxidize. Scratches over time but can polish to remove. 40 percent harder than 14K gold; helps engravings look sharper.

Price: 30 times rarer than gold (more expensive.)

Purity: 95 percent

Facts: Most British Crown jewels are made of platinum. Taken off the market during the 20th century for wartime uses (it’s that durable!)


Appearance: Yellow gold, White gold, Green gold, Rose gold. 24k Gold is extremely soft. Can be buffed with a soft cloth to keep shiny and smooth.

Price: Can be relatively inexpensive.

Purity: Measured in karats (not carats). Karats are divided into 24 parts. 24 karats = pure gold. Traditionally alloyed with other metals to add strength. Therefore, 14K is 14 parts gold, 10 parts other metal. Comes 10K, 14K, or 18K.

Facts: Must be at least 10K to be sold as gold in the U.S. Traditionally mined in South Africa, but also in Peru, Russia and the U.S.

Sterling Silver

Appearance: Pure silver is similar in hue to platinum, but less shiny. Pure silver, like gold, is very soft. Tarnishes, so needs to be kept in tarnish-proof storage and taken care of.

Price: One of the most affordable precious metals

Purity: 92.5 percent. Must be 92.5 percent pure silver to be sold in the U.S.

Facts: Was once considered more valuable than gold. Paper towels can scratch silver.

Contemporary Metals

These metals aren’t typically seen in engagement rings, but offer a contemporary look for wedding bands that will complement a gold or platinum engagement ring.


Appearance: Naturally bright and white in color, similar to platinum. Fairly scratch resistant. 4 times harder than platinum, heavy and very durable. Allows for easy resizing.

Price: One of the most affordable metals.

Purity: Sold as a pure metal. Hypoallergenic

Facts: Originally created for use in medical and aerospace industries.

Stainless Steel

Appearance: Shiny and strong. Can be polished to take on different looks. Matte, like pewter, or reflective, like chrome.

Price: Good choice for shoppers looking for the qualities of platinum, but with a lower price.

Purity: Mixed with at least 10.5 percent chromium to resist oxidation (stainless!)

Facts: You can clean stainless steel with dish soap, water and a cloth.


Appearance: Lightweight. Modern style. Black, gray or silver, often with inlays of other metals. Often polished. Extremely scratch resistance. Cannot be resized.

Price: One of the most affordable contemporary metals.

Purity: Does not include alloys. Hypoallergenic.

Facts: Named after the Titans of Greek mythology. Mined all over the world, including, Australia, Canada, China, New Zealand, Norway, North America and South Africa.


Appearance: Brilliant, hard-looking shine. 4 times harder than titanium. Cannot be resized.

Price: One of the most affordable contemporary metals.

Purity: Pure element. Hypoallergenic.

Facts: Found mostly in China.

Jewelry Wise™
Expert source for jewelry advice 

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