So, which metal should you choose?
That's up to you. From our experience though, the things to consider are:
1. The colour - have a look at our metal comparison photos.
2. The price/value - This is personal choice. It depends on your budget and how important it is to you for your ring to hold intrinsic value (for instance, most of the cost of a silver or titanium band is in it's construction whereas a gold/platinum/palladium ring holds a lot of value in the metal itself). We can give you prices for your design in whichever metals and carats you're thinking about.
3. The durability - There are LOTS of different opinions about this. In our opinion though, all metal will wear over time. Titanium is the only one which will significantly resist scratches. It does have its downside though. Wear and tear is a natural part of wearing jewellery. Some alloys are harder than others but in our opinion it doesn't make too much difference. But... If you really want to know who's the toughest tom in town, In order of soft to hard in our experience it's - copper, electrum, silver, palladium, brass, white and yellow gold, red gold, platinum and titanium. 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 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.
"The sterling alloy originated in continental Europe and was being used for commerce as early as the 12th century in the area that is now northern Germany. In England the composition of sterling silver was subject to official assay at some date before 1158, during the reign of Henry II, but its purity was probably regulated from centuries earlier, in Saxon times." - wikipedia
Gold is almost always alloyed with other metals before it is used in jewellery making. In it's pure form it's too soft for most purposes. Carat or karat 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.
Most of the gold we get in New Zealand is either recycled or from mines located here and in Australia. Both these countries have relatively good environmental and social practices but for a super low impact option we can also use our very own local ethical gold. This is 100% pure New Zealand alluvial beach gold which you can read more about here.
Yellow, red and green gold
Yellow or regular gold is mixed with equal proportions of copper and silver to maintain its natural colour. Red or rose gold has more copper than silver giving it a reddish hue and green gold more silver giving it a paler one.
White gold is alloyed with at least one white metal such as nickel, manganese and/or palladium.
Most white gold is rhodium plated which gives it its bright white colour. Due to our etching process we can't plate our etched white gold rings, this means you see the natural colour of the metal which varies depending on the carat.
9ct is the whitest, most similar colour to plated white gold. It is very close to the colour of silver.
14ct is a slightly darker, gun metal grey colour.
18ct is darker still. Similar to Titanium or palladium
9ct palladium alloy has a higher percentage of palladium giving it a darker 18ct look for less cost.
"Electrum is a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver and is mentioned in an expedition sent by Pharaoh Sahure of the Fifth dynasty of Egypt. It is also discussed by Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia. " - wikipedia
Our electrum is a 50/50 mix of ethical gold and recycled sterling silver. It is effectively 12 carat gold. A similar colour to 14ct white gold it is a bit softer than silver and more suitable for simple bands than those with etchings or stones incorporated.
"Platinum is a dense, malleable and ductile white metal. Its name is derived from the Spanish term platina, which is literally translated into "little silver" - wikipedia.
It is the most valuable of the metals we use, a heavy and substantial metal with a naturally white and lustrous finish.
"Palladium was discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston. He named it after the asteroid Pallas, which was itself named after the epithet of the Greek goddess Athena" - thanks wikipedia.
Naturally dense and ductile It is a darkish silvery gun metal grey colour. Palladium is more suited to simple etchings as the nature of the metal makes more intricate designs a bit tricky.
"Titanium was discovered in Cornwall, Great Britain, by William Gregor in 1791 and named by Martin Heinrich Klaproth for the Titans of Greek mythology" - wikipedia.
The benefits of Titanium are it's strength, durability and lightness. The flip side of this is... It's a mongrel to work with and it cannot really be resized. Of all the metals we use it is the only one which is significantly more resistant to scratches.
Titanium rings are milled from a single piece of metal and cannot be cut and soldered. The only size adjustment we can do is to round the inside edges to more of a comfort style fit, making the ring feel 1/4 of a size bigger.
Therefore it is very important to get the size right first time. The only way to do this is to try on a ring that fits and is the same width as the one wanted and get a size from this - measured to the edge of the ring. Any other method is just not precise enough.
The etchings are not black as with silver and gold but slightly iridescent colours. Greens, blues and reds. We usually 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.
Titanium is very hard and therefore there are some limits as to the designs we can to etch on it. This also means diamonds are the only stone we like to set in titanium. If coloured stones are what you're looking for we can source coloured diamonds.
For orders within New Zealand we send a test ring to ensure the size is correct.
Brass and copper
Both Brass and copper will stain your skin so we suggest, for rings, an inner sleeve of either silver or gold. Both will darken and patina with time however rings will tend to stay a brighter colour as their surface is cleaned by general wear.
If you're worried about skin sensitivity, the very safest options are platinum, palladium and titanium as these are less allergenic. If you would rather have 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, palladium and titanium do not contain any nickel or copper. 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. If you end up with a ring that irritates your skin, we'll work with you to find a suitable alternative.
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