When advising customers about which metal to choose for an engagement ring, I always tell them there is no perfect metal. All metals typically used in jewelry have benefits and limitations. For example, 14kt rose gold is considered a very soft metal because there is copper in the alloy, while 14kt white gold is considered stronger but contains nickel, which some people are allergic too. In addition, metals vary in price, with platinum being the most expensive. Price is an important factor when balancing a budget for an engagement ring. Learning about some of the properties of gold and platinum will help you make the best decision for your purchase.
White gold is a metal alloy made up of natural yellow gold and other white metals. White gold primarily contains nickel as a coloring agent to whiten the metal. All white gold, both 14kt and 18kt, is rhodium plated. This is the final step in making white gold truly white. Rhodium plating is not permanent and it will wear off over time. Depending on how one wears a white gold ring, the rhodium dip will need to be redone typically on a yearly basis. 14kt gold is 58.5% pure gold while 18kt gold is 75% pure. The higher the gold content, the richer the color and softer the metal becomes. I typically recommend 14kt white gold over 18kt; it is naturally whiter and stronger. 18kt white gold is still a common choice among consumers who prefer a more pure metal. When discussing yellow gold, I do prefer 18kt since the higher gold content makes the color richer.
Platinum (950) is the standard among fine jewelers. deBebians’s platinum is comprised of 95% platinum and 5% iridium. Iridium is a very hard, dense, and silvery-white metal, belonging to the platinum family of metals. One of the benefits of platinum (950) is that it is a naturally white metal and so does not require rhodium dipping. Platinum is also hypoallergenic so it is preferred among people who might be allergic to nickel and or copper found in white and rose gold. One of the properties of platinum is its softness compared to gold. Platinum tends to scratch and dull more easily while gold can be more resistant to dings and nicks.
Platinum is a tougher metal than gold. Toughness refers to a materials ability to withstand breaking. Platinum is very tough meaning it is more likely to bend out of shape rather than break. We use platinum for this feature because we don’t want to lose our precious diamonds. Since gold is less tough, it is strong enough up to a certain point but can break into pieces, which can be dangerous. Generally speaking, both metals are safe for fine jewelry; it is simply a matter of taking care of your things and being mindful of how and where you wear jewelry.
All engagement rings and fine jewelry should be serviced on a yearly basis regardless of the metal. This is to ensure the stones are secure and to provide an annual cleaning and polish. It takes no time at all to rhodium plate a white gold ring so there really is no more maintenance on that than a platinum ring.