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All About Metals

Choosing what metal to use in your engagement ring or wedding band is very important, as it can determine how your ring wears over time.

Gold is definitely the most traditional metal for fine jewelry, treasured throughout human history for its beauty and rarity. Because gold is extremely soft and ductile, it is usually combined with other metals to create an alloy that is durable enough to be made into a ring. The purity of a gold alloy is measured by the karat scale, with 24 karats being pure gold. Common alloys are 18 karat (18 of 24 parts gold, or 75%) and 14 karat (about 58% gold).

The other reason for creating an alloy is the ability to change its color. Gold naturally has a rich yellow hue, but white, red, and rose gold alloys are also popular. Mardon makes many of its custom designs in a distinctive peach colored alloy, which gives an especially warm, rich look. White gold has a slightly yellowish champagne color, and is usually plated with rhodium (an extremely white metal) to enhance its color. Because rhodium plating does wear away as it's worn, white gold rings tend to eventually revert to their original color and will need to be repolished and re-plated.

Platinum is another precious metal used in fine jewelry today, but it is a relatively new addition. Because of the difficulties involved in locating, mining, and refining platinum ore, it is even more scarce than gold. Platinum rings are noticeably heavier than their gold counterparts due to the metal's high density. Combined with the fact that platinum alloys are 90-95% pure, this also means that they tend to be more expensive.

There are several advantages to having a platinum band. While some peoples' body chemistry may cause them to have allergic reactions to gold jewelry, very few people experience problems with platinum. Unlike white gold, platinum rings have a naturally silver-grey color (although they are sometimes rhodium-plated anyway). Due to its density, platinum jewelry will also last longer without getting worn down. This makes it ideal for heads and prongs on engagement rings that are worn all the time. Platinum is especially good for setting and holding pave set stones. However, platinum is softer than gold, so platinum prongs may move more, and platinum will not keep a high-polished finish for as long.

Another, even newer, metal on the jewelry scene is titanium. Extremely hard, lightweight, and very affordable, it's a great introductory choice for gentlemen who aren't used to wearing a ring. Tungsten-carbide is a similar industrial-strength metal which offers a greater heft. These metals can be shaped into a variety of different wedding band styles, but generally aren't suitable for use with rings featuring gemstones.

As you can see, there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to each metal. Luckily, most of our rings are available in either platinum or gold - the choice is up to you!