So, which metal should you choose for your wedding ring?
That's up to you. From our experience though, the things to consider are:
1. The colour - have a look at our metal comparison photo. There are slight variations depending on the carat of gold.
2. The price/value - This is a personal choice. It depends on your budget and how important it is to you for your wedding ring to hold intrinsic value. For instance, most of the cost of a silver or titanium band is in its construction whereas a gold/platinum/palladium wedding ring holds a lot of value in the metal itself.
3. The durability - There are LOTS of different opinions about this. It's important to know that no matter what metal your ring is made of, the structure of the ring is guaranteed for life. So, when people talk about durability, they're mainly talking about surface dings and scratches.
The surface of your ring can always be brought back to its original state, so it's not a huge deal. But, it can be annoying if you don't want to have to maintain your ring. If you really want to know who's the toughest tom in town, in our experience it's (from softest to hardest) - copper, electrum, silver, palladium, brass, white and yellow gold, red gold, platinum and titanium. Generally, the higher the carat, the harder the metal. Honestly though, we think the other 3 factors are more important considerations.
4. The weight and how it feels to wear - this is something you really have to experience, but at the extremes, titanium is a noticeably light metal and higher carat gold, platinum and palladium are definitely heavy and more substantial feeling.
And the metals themselves...
The Helvetica of metals 925 parts silver, 75 parts copper. Ubiquitous, simple, beautiful. We use recycled silver to make our rings.
Silver is great if you're on a budget. It tends to hold the darkening of the etchings really well and has a bright, white appearance that a lot of people love.
Silver is not so great if you work with your hands as it can scratch, dent and ding quite easily. If you're into a more rustic look, then it's all good! And again, we can always fix up surface problems. Also! Natural hot pools, swimming pools and sulphur-containing chemicals can discolour the surface of silver rings.
Gold is almost always alloyed with other metals before it is used in jewellery making. In its pure form, it's too soft for everyday wear. The carat is a measure of purity. 24 carat is pure gold. 9 carat is 9 parts gold and 15 parts other metals or around 1/3rd gold. 14 carat is 14 parts gold and 10 parts other metals or around 5/8ths gold and 18 carat is 18 parts gold and 6 parts other metals or 3/4 gold. In general, the higher the carat, the harder and heavier it is.
Gold is great as it can fit most budgets depending on the carat used. Also, it's a world-recognised commodity, so if the zombie apocalypse eventuates, boom, you can trade your ring for some ammo.
Gold is not so great if you want a super bright, white coloured metal (unless you go with 9ct white gold). We don't rhodium plate our white gold, so make sure you look at the metal comparison photo closely.
Ethical Alluvial gold
We only use alluvial New Zealand gold - this is eroded out of the mountains naturally by water then collected not so naturally by people. From small scale fossickers to river dredgers to large scale gravel deposit mining it all has an impact but in our opinion a lot less impact than hard rock mining (you know, the kind with the giant holes in the ground and tanks full of cyanide). This may sometimes have a little recycled gold mixed in but the gold in your ring will always be at least 95% pure New Zealand alluvial gold.
For a super low impact option, we can also use our very own local black sand beach gold. This is 100% pure New Zealand alluvial beach gold which we source, alloy and fabricate ourselves. You can read more about it here.
Our electrum is a 50/50 mix of ethical gold and recycled sterling silver. It is effectively 12 carat gold.
Electrum is great because it has a cool name and the colour is a warmer version of white gold, kinda like champagne. Also, it's super ethical.
Electrum is not so great as it's a bit softer than gold alloys of a similar value, so it should only be used for wedding bands, not solitaire engagement rings.
Is the most valuable of the metals we use, a heavy and substantial metal with a naturally white and lustrous finish.
Platinum is great because it is a beautiful colour and is super durable. When we see platinum rings that we made years ago, they look the most untouched by time when compared to the other metals. The weight of these rings really does make them feel more special, I'm not sure why. Also good in the zombie apocalypse scenario mentioned above.
Platinum is not so great because it's expensive. Also, it only comes in the one colour, so if you're a gold kinda person, it's just not for you (although 18ct white gold is a very similar option).
Naturally dense and ductile It is a darkish, silvery, gunmetal grey colour.
Palladium is great as it looks similar to platinum or 18ct white gold.
Palladium is not so great as it's a little soft and not well-suited for super intricate etched designs.
Titanium is a very popular metal, especially among men. It's naturally a very dark, gun metal grey.
Titanium is great because it's super-duper durable and very light (which some people like if they're not used to wearing rings). It is also hypoallergenic.
Titanium is not so great because it can't be resized, like, ever. We can only set diamonds or sapphires into titanium and we can't do overly-complex outside etched designs.
Titanium is great/not so great because we can't colour the etchings our usual black as we do with silver and gold. They are slightly iridescent colours - mostly greens and blues. We colour our rings a dark green, as close to black as we can manage. Other colours are possible but it is not an exact art so there is always some variation.
If you're worried about skin sensitivity, the very safest options are white gold, platinum and titanium. If you would rather have yellow or red gold, the higher the carat, the less chance of a reaction.
Most often, people are sensitive to either nickel or copper.
Our white gold, platinum and titanium do not contain any nickel or copper.
Palladium, sterling silver, yellow, red and green gold all contain some copper but no nickel.
If you end up with a ring that irritates your skin, we'll work with you to find a suitable alternative.