The Relationship Between Materials and Design
Just because stones and metal are hard, doesn't mean they're invincible. It's important to understand how your material choices relate to design. We've explained why we're so selective in the materials we choose to ensure a lifetime of beauty, quality, and your happiness.
What We Use: Diamonds and Sapphires.
The Reason: Diamonds are the hardest natural substance. This, along with their brilliance, make them the ideal stone for use in any important piece of jewelry. While diamonds aren’t the only gemstone used in engagement rings, their enduring characteristics are a large reason why the two are so synonymous with one another.
This doesn’t mean other gemstones can’t be used in an engagement ring, but it does mean that rings featuring a different type of center stone will need to alter their design to better protect the more susceptible stone. The designs we all instantly recognize as an engagement ring, have been shaped to maximize a diamond’s beauty while accounting for its unique and unparalleled durability. The exception to this is sapphires. They are not quite as hard as diamonds, but they are the second hardest precious gemstone, which you may already know because cellphone screens now often have sapphire particles in them to increase their resilience. Even sapphires have their limitations relative to a diamond, and past a certain size, similar design concessions will be needed to ensure they are not unnecessarily exposed.
Practical Advice: Engagement ring designs focus on the center stone, so while a unique design may be eye-catching it needs to also adequately protect the center from damage, and this is especially imperative if the center is not a diamond. No design looks good when your center stone is cracked or has a visible break. There are styles of rings that are best suited for gemstones less durable than a diamond, but if your heart is set on using a different gemstone in a traditional engagement ring design, continue reading our Design Guide to learn what decisions you can make to achieve your desired look, while best protecting it.
When it comes to diamonds, while size might be the most recognizable characteristic, we recommend focusing on the quality characteristics (color, cut, and clarity). Every ring we produce can be made to fit any center size diamond, and every customization option in our Custom Ring Builder has been adaptively designed to complement the size of any diamond we sell, both aesthetically and structurally, so your perfect design won't depend on what size center you choose.
What We Use: Platinum as well as Yellow, White, and Pink Gold all in 14k or 18k.
The Reason: We consider platinum the ultimate metal for an engagement ring. It is a dense and rigid metal that balances durability with beauty, having a natural white metal color and enduring radiance that complements any gemstone but especially diamonds. We use 95.2% Pure Platinum mixed with 4.8% Ruthenium, to allow enough flexibility for it to be molded, cast, and have stones set within.
Gold is the metal most synonymous with all jewelry, and because of that it is important to understand the types of gold suitable for use in fine jewelry and engagement rings. Gold is a soft metal and as such, needs to be mixed with alloys to be hard enough to maintain its shape and hold up to daily wear. The alloys used can also influence the color of the gold, which is naturally yellow, but can be turned to many other colors, most familiarly white and pink.
The percentage of gold is measured in carats (k) with 24k gold being pure gold [Please Note: Diamond and gemstone weight is measured in carat, which is the same word but a different unit of measurement. As such, unless specifically indicated, when referring to metal purity we will only use the abbreviation “k” while the word “carat” will refer to a diamond or gemstone’s weight]. 24k gold is too soft to keep its shape or securely hold any stones set within it. Fine jewelry will use either 14k or 18k gold. 14k is comprised of 58.3% pure gold (14/24) while 18k gold is 75% pure gold (18/24). Depending on the fineness of the gold chosen, and the desired gold color, various alloys can be used. For yellow, white, and pink gold: silver, copper, and palladium are used in varying combinations and proportions.
14k and 18k are the standards for gold in fine jewelry because they each strike a balance when it comes to aesthetics and durability. 18k preserves much of natural radiance of gold, while being able to withstand regular wear and tear if the design is proportioned suitably, while 14k concedes a little radiance for added durability with the added benefit of also being cheaper.
While 10k is legally allowed to be referred to as gold (and 9k in Europe), at that level, gold is no longer the main metal. We believe that below 14k, the metals radiance is diminished, and the characteristics of the alloys used can begin to obscure the gold’s beauty. Jewelry can also be made with gold above 18k but we do not recommend it given the softness of gold. Past 18k, gold is too soft to maintain its shape and design, and the security of any stones set within is compromised.
Practical Advice: When choosing between the various colors of 14k and 18k gold as well as platinum there is no wrong answer but depending on your considerations a specific option may stand out.
If you are interested in a white metal, we recommend platinum. It is a harder metal and naturally white so it will keep its color better. White gold’s coloring is not only a product of the alloys used, but also an end process called rhodium plating, which enhances the whiteness of the metal but can wear off over time. Traditionally platinum has been significantly more expensive than gold, but the cost of gold has risen significantly in past years to the point that it costs more per ounce than platinum. The same ring will still cost more in platinum than gold, because platinum is a denser metal (platinum is about 1.7x denser than 14k gold and 1.5x denser than 18k gold) but the difference in cost is ahistorical and small enough that the benefits of platinum are hard to pass up.
Many times, budget is the deciding factor in opting between 14k and 18k gold (as well as platinum). While we do not consider diamond size a measure of stone quality, generally you can operate by this rule of thumb:
Below 1 carat, opt for 14k, above 1 carat opt for 18k (or platinum).
While this is not a universal rule, because we maintain high quality standards in a tight range for the diamond centers we sell, it works well as carat weight will typically be the characteristic with the most variation and largest effect on price.