Those with the unenviable task of buying the engagement ring need to consider more than whether to opt for a diamond or alternative gem before making the final decision - for as well as the ring setting, the diamond engagement ring band also needs careful thought, and this article takes a closer look at just that.
Engagement Ring Bands
When we think about the band of an engagement ring, yellow gold immediately springs to mind. Traditionally the most popular choice, and remaining so today, yellow gold dominates the market, though there are other choices out there for couples. These days the number of ring bands made from other materials (notably white gold, silver, platinum and titanium) are surging in popularity and proving to be very popular choices for those who want to stray away from the norm.
Perhaps there is a large existing jewellery wardrobe which will better complimented by one particular metal, or perhaps budget restrictions prevent you from purchasing certain more expensive bands. It may even be that the bride-to-be is allergic to certain alloys found in specific metals. Either way, it is wise to spend some time considering your options and making sure that you choose of the right one.
As mentioned earlier, yellow gold is by far the most popular band choice for the majority of diamond engagement rings, and if this is the route you want to head down, it is important before you start that as well as 'knowing your onions', you get to know your carats!
I'm sure that you've all have heard of the expression ’24 carat gold’. Well, 24 carat gold is also known as ‘pure gold’ and is the top grade, brightest yellow gold that there is – it's also far too soft a metal to be used for a diamond engagement ring band. With this in mind, if anyone ever tells you that they've bought their girlfriend a 24 carat diamond ring, you know their best friend is Pinocchio!
The most popular choices for yellow gold bands are typically 18 carat gold (75% pure gold with 25% metal alloy), 14 carat gold, (c.58% pure gold with c.42% metal alloy) and 9 carat gold (37.5% pure gold with 62.5% metal alloy) – metals such as copper and silver are added to form the alloy and thus strengthen the metal, and also help to decrease the cost!
Platinum is an alternative option to gold and is rapidly growing in popularity these days. It is rarer, stronger, purer and, you guessed it, more expensive than gold - in some cases, it can cost up to twice as much for a platinum band as it will for a similar one manufactured in gold. Platinum's appearance is similar to that of silver, but it it's hypoallergenic, non-tarnishable and far heavier than its well-known counterpart.
If you like the look of platinum, but not the price tag, then why not consider white gold. At about half the cost of platinum it has a similar appearance to the naked eye, although it is less dense and durable and can be prone to marking and scratches. An alloy of gold and one or more white metals (typically nickel or palladium), as with yellow gold it's purity is measured in carats.
A cheap alternative to gold and platinum, silver can provide a cost-effective but equally beautiful band for a simple engagement ring. Due to it's corrosive nature, it is not recommended for any engagement ring that is to incorporate a gemstone of particular value, and anyone looking to purchase a silver band should pay close attention to its purity - 92.5% pure silver (sometimes referred to as sterling silver) is acceptable, but bands with a smaller silver content than this will be more brittle in nature and far less durable.
Providing an ideal option for those on a tight budget, titanium could well be worth considering. Titanium is a stronger metal than gold, more durable than silver, and considerably lighter than platinum. It's hypoallergenic and it's silver/dark grey appearance is rather a unique one. Titanium won't mark the skin and could provide a great option for those looking for a band to complement an alternative gem in an engagement ring.
One final thing to think about when choosing the band for the engagement ring is whether you want any engraving on the inside. Popular choices include the date of the engagement, the names of the partners or perhaps a special message or quote. Various fonts and styles are available and it is a far more romantic thing to have this done up front than after your partner has accepted!
For those of you wanting to find out more, we've a whole host of other engagement articles on our site packed full of expert information and helpful advice, not to mention our online wedding directory that's filled with jewellers, bespoke ring makers and more.
For friendly tips and helpful advice, take a look at our engagement forum and engagement Q&A's or check out the rings for sale and the 'links to pages & websites you may like' below.