guidance

Choosing the right metal for your bespoke ring

Choosing the right metal for your bespoke engagement ring is one of the most important choices you can make when creating a ring. The right material sets the overall style of your ring and if done correctly, complements your choice of gemstone and mount.

Choosing the right metal for your bespoke ring

Learn more about our recommended metals including platinum and 18ct gold with our comprehensive guide.

Making the right choice

The biggest consideration when choosing the metal of your bespoke ring is naturally going to be it's appearance, however there are other things to take into account too.

Different metals will require different maintenance, they can age differently and even have different effects on the skin of the wearer. We've listed the most common choices below along with some key information you might not be aware of.

Platinum

Often the most expensive choice for jewellery, platinum is the world's rarest metal. For every kilogram of gold extracted from the earth, only 100g of platinum is available making it a much more exclusive choice.

Appearance

Presenting in a silver/white sheen, platinum creates a clean and contemporary aesthetic. It has a very low reflection point so it won't be overly shimmering with colour meaning your gemstone has full attention.

Maintenance

Platinum is extremely low maintenance and will keep it's shine with minimal care. A simple buffer with a cloth will have no effect over the long term, unlike gold which will typically tarnish. Platinum can even improve with appearance over time, developing a satin like finish from general wear and micro scratching which many customers find aesthetically pleasing.

Other considerations

Platinum is most suitable for those who suffer from skin allergies and irritations as platinum is inherently a very unreactive metal. And because what we refer to as platinum is actually a platinum allow made up of 95% platinum and 5% other metals, there's less chance of your skin reacting to other metals when compared to gold, which typically has a higher proportion of copper, zinc and other metals mixed into its alloy.

18ct Gold

Gold is the classic choice for precious jewellery and a popular choice among customers wanting a more traditional aesthetic. Gold is measured in carats, which refers to the purity of the material. We typically prefer 18ct gold as it gives a good balance between durability, longevity and appearance.

What does carat refer to in gold?

What we refer to as gold in the jewellery industry is actually a gold alloy. Pure gold (referred to as 24ct) by its nature is a very soft metal which makes it unsuitable for fine jewellery. Other metals are added to the alloy to make it more durable and easier to craft.

The Carat number refers the proportion of pure gold in the alloy, with 24ct being near enough pure gold.

We typically recommend 18ct gold which contains 75% gold and 25% other metals (usually silver, nickel, copper and zinc). The 75% gold content ensures that you still have the expected signature style of gold, along with sufficient durability for everyday wear gained from the other metals.

12ct gold and below is also commonly used in jewellery and whilst it's more durable, the 50% or lower gold in the mixture means it doesn't have the same quality shine or finish.

Appearance

Gold can be coloured in different styles depending on the composition of the alloy.

18ct White Gold

White gold is commonly compared to platinum as both offer a similar colour and shine. 18ct white gold comprises of 75% gold and 25% white metals such as silver, nickel or palladium which is commonly plated with rhodium.

18ct Rose Gold

Rose gold is made with a similar process to white gold, but much more copper material is added to give rose gold it's signature rose colour.

18ct Yellow Gold

Keeping as close as possible to the natural colour, yellow gold contains the same 75% purity as other colours, however emphasis is placed on only adding metals which do not interfere with it's natural hue.

Maintenance

When compared to platinum, gold jewellery is more prone to change appearance slightly over the years and requires specific maintenance from the wearer.

White gold

It's common practice to use rhodium plating on white gold jewellery to give it it's white appearance which will erode over time during regular cleaning. This plating will need to be replaced every year or two depending on the level of wear and tear experienced. This can cost upwards of £60 per re-plating, which over time can really add up.

At Nightingale, we use a white gold alloy with added palladium which eliminates the need to use a rhodium coating, meaning you'll never need to re-plate a white gold ring from us.

Rose gold

Gold doesn't change over time, but copper has a tendency to darken. Over time you may notice your jewellery appear redder than when you first bought it. This is completely natural, but if you want to breathe some new life into your piece then try a washing up liquid/ water solution combined with gentle brushing from a toothbrush.

Yellow gold

Despite not having a significant colour change compared to white or rose gold, yellow gold is still susceptible to change appearance slightly because of the other metals used in the alloy. Again, a good clean with the solution listed above should suffice.

Other considerations

Generally speaking 18ct gold will be cheaper than platinum (the natural comparison to white gold) however gold tends to require higher levels of maintenance which should be considered in the long term cost, especially if you go with a white gold variant which requires replating.

12ct gold

12ct gold shares the same general properties as 18ct gold, but instead of having 75% pure gold it only has 50%. Naturally having half the gold content of 18ct gold makes 12ct gold significantly cheaper.

But, with a lower cost comes some drawbacks. Because of the equal mixture of gold and other metals, 12ct gold will tarnish much faster than 18ct. Additionally, 12ct gold simply won't shine to the same degree as higher purity gold, there's simply less shiny metal in the compound.

Choosing a finish for your metal

Ok, so you've made one of the biggest decisions, you've settled on the metal you like! Now for an equally challenging decision, how do you want it to be finished? We've listed out some options below to give you some ideas, although note that certain finishes need thicker ring bands then others, so may not be suitable depending on your design.

  • Polished
  • Florentine
  • Pebbled
  • Satin
  • Matt
  • Wire/soft brushed
  • Hammered/ Pebbled

More questions? 

Our bespoke design process makes sure that every question you have regarding style, finish and metal suitability is taken into account and answered fully before commiting to a final design, so if you have more questions feel free to get in touch with our team!

Further reading

Guides

Christmas 2021 at Nightingale

It's that time of year again! Christmas and New Year are some of the most popular dates for popping the big question. And if you're planning yo...

Read More

White gold v Platinum - Which is best for engagement rings?

White gold and platinum can give a similar aesthetic to your engagement ring, but there are some important differences between the two metals which can be important when choosing between them.

Both are very popular choices for engagement rings, so we thought it best to give you a simple guide to help you decide.

Read More

How to get the perfect engagement ring for any budget

Deciding to propose to your partner is a big decision. And along with that decision usually comes a big financial commitment to buy a suitable engagement ring. 

Here's 6 tips to help you get a ring that's perfect for you and your budget.

Read More

Buying ethical diamond jewellery in 2021

Looking to make your next jewellery purchase more ethical? That's great to hear! But being completely honest, buying ethically is not as easy as it should be in 2021.

Read More

Moissanite v diamonds: Everything you need to know

Curious about moissanite? Having trouble deciding which gemstone to use for your ring? Read on to find out more about the key difference betwee...

Read More

Pearl buying guide

Prized and admired for millennia. As the first true gems ever to be used as adornments, the history of pearls in jewellery is nearly as old as the history of civilisation itself.

Read More

Diamond grading certificates explained

A diamond certificate is the evaluation by a third party accredited gemological laboratory of your diamond. In addition to the diamonds carat weight and measurements, a certificate includes grades for the diamonds cut colour and clarity.

Read More

Ring sizing guide

The last thing we at Nightingale want is to supply a ring and at the crucial ‘down on one knee’ moment it turns out to be too large or too small. Nightingale offer one adjustment free in the first three months.

Read More

Hallmarks

It is mandatory in Great Britain for precious metals that meet the weight criteria to be assayed and hallmarked (stamped) to indicate the type and fineness of the metal.

Read More

Diamond buying guide

There are many beautiful gemstones that have been created by nature and mined from the earth but the most regal of them all is the diamond. The mysterious diamond is the most popular gemstone of them all and the one that has the most myths and legends associated with it.

Read More

Lab-grown diamonds: Everything you need to know

Wondering what exactly a lab grown diamond is and why they're a perfect ethical alternative to mined diamonds? Find out here...

Read More

Coloured diamonds

Nightingale can supply an outstanding collection of coloured diamonds loose or set within a bespoke or finished piece of Nightingale jewellery.

Read More