Comparing the three popular options, there are pro’s and con’s to most metal types.
Pro’s – Naturally white, 100% hypo-allergenic, Polishes beautifully, hard wearing, luxurious, and rarer than many of the other precious metals.
Con’s – Expensive, can scratch fairly easily. But this can happen with most precious metals. The cost of Platinum is perhaps the main issue for many people considering this metal.
Alloys such as 18ct Gold are popular, especially in the UK as they are hard wearing, with many pro’s to this type of metal. Many alloys of white gold require Rhodium plating following the final polish to provide the white appearance, which can wear over time. Often mistaken for tarnishing, this is easily re-applied but certainly one of the con’s for choosing white gold, amongst many people.
Many reference this as a new metal, but it has been around for many years. In the UK Palladium now has a recognised legally required hallmark, and can be purchased in alloys of 950 Palladium and 500 Palladium. 950 Palladium is 95% pure and exhibits many of the properties that Platinum does. Purity, natural white colouration, hypo-allergenic. One of the con’s has to be working this metal. Unlike Platinum, Palladium becomes very brittle when heated, making it more difficult to mount onto settings, or re-join following sizing work. Many Palladium rings are mounted using Platinum solder and sized this way. Whilst such work can be done, there is no doubt that Platinum remains advantageous in this context. Fine detail tends to lack the same strength as Platinum, so we tend to advise on stronger settings, such as bar settings and heavier claws for this metal.
Appearance: This factor is largely down to preference. What material do you like the most? How does it complement your gemstone of choice? Does it match your skin tone?
Durability: Metals like platinum and tungsten are very hard, and will hold up nicely during everyday activities. This quality is especially important if you have a delicate gemstone setting or fine filigree that you don’t want to scratch or break. By contrast, metals like gold and silver are much softer.
Maintenance Needs: Some materials require more upkeep than others. White gold, for example, will need to be periodically re‐plated as the rhodium coating wears off. Platinum and palladium, on the other hand, can be worn for many years without becoming tarnished or disfigured.
Allergenic Properties: Some people have allergies that prevent them from wearing certain metals. Of particular concern is nickel, which is found in many gold and silver alloys. If this is a problem for you, consider a hypoallergenic alternative like platinum or palladium.