Precious Metals & Settings Overview
With jewelry, there are six kinds of precious metals: gold, palladium, platinum, rhodium, silver and tungsten. Here’s what you need to know about each one:
Gold is classic for a reason. It is sturdy, it lasts a long time, and it looks amazing with diamonds. Its purity is measured in karats (not to be confused with the weight-unit and 18-karat gold is often considered ideal, consisting of 75% gold. Although 18-karat gold shows signs of wear faster than 14 or 10-karat, 18 is still preferred because its strong yellow color is best suited for jewelry. 24-karat gold is 100% pure gold, though such purity actually makes it less durable than 18-karat gold and too soft for most jewelry. While 14 is the most common level of purity in the U.S., anything less than 10-karat cannot legally be sold as gold.
Palladium is similar to platinum with a silver, grey, white color, and resides in the platinum family of metals due to the similar chemical properties of the two.
Although platinum was considered worthless 300 years ago, it is now far more valuable than gold. The reason is manifold. First of all, the white shine of platinum is unique and beautiful, which makes is very desirable. It is also the strongest of the precious metals, and it’s twice as heavy as 14-karat gold. Platinum has had a surge in popularity in recent years, and it has slowly replaced gold as the metal of choice in diamond rings. Though gold and diamond pair well together, platinum does a much better job at bringing out a diamond's brilliance.
Rhodium is a white metal very similar to Platinum. Since the natural color of gold will eventually wear through white gold jewelry, you should maintain your white gold jewelry by having it rhodium plated every 12 to 18 months.
Silver is one of man-kind's oldest metals, and it is still popular today. Silver’s main draw is that it is the brightest, with unparalleled reflective abilities: polished silver can look even brighter than platinum. Plus, there’s no need to worry if your silver isn’t pure. It’s typical and actually desirable for silver jewelry to be alloyed with copper, because pure silver is too soft to be practical.
Tungsten is a very hard , strong and durable metal and is highly scratch resistant. This metal has a permanent polish which means that it never has to be re-polished. Rings made of Tungsten cant be cut or soldered, so if your buy one of these rings, its important to know your size since they cant be resized.
Prong or Common prong
The most common style setting is the prong setting. It has tips that bend around the diamond, holding it in place. There are usually four or six prongs, although there can be more. The more there are, the safer the stone is. However, too many prongs can obstruct the view of the diamond engagement ring or as we like to say too much metal.
A channel set ring consists of a thicker band with a channel carved in the middle that holds smaller diamonds within it. This type of setting is not usually used for engagement rings but for those that do not have a central or main stone. Stones are very secure set within the band but are hidden because they are not lifted above the band.
A bezel setting includes a ring with a raised collar surrounding a main stone that holds it in place. This setting offers protection and safety. There is also the option of a half bezel using less metal.
A tension setting allows for a diamond to be fully seen. Two pieces of metal press into the stone to hold it in place. This is not as safe for the safety of your stone and resizing is also limited.
Pave settings incorporate several, very visible gemstones or diamonds which are held in place by tiny, virtually invisible prongs that circle the ring. This type of setting is popular today for diamond engagement rings.