Precious metal type guide

Diamond engagement ring guide


One aspect of choosing the perfect ring is ensuring you have the best metal for your diamond to truly radiate and complement your partner's skin tone.

A good place to start is to secretly look in your partner’s jewellery box and see which metal colours they favour. If you feel they might enjoy wearing something a little bit different, it is also possible to buy mixed metal engagement rings, or have a wedding band in a contrasting ring metal. 

Another consideration when choosing the best metal for rings is the colour of the diamond, or diamonds, in your engagement ring. White diamonds will look great with all metal types, but coloured or ‘fancy’ diamonds will be best enhanced by white gold or platinum, as the hue of the coloured diamond will contrast with the colour of the metal ring. If you are buying a loose diamond, place the diamond on the top of your hand and compare it with a similar diamond already mounted in jewellery to visualise how it will look when it has been set into a ring.

Featured ring: Rose Gold Three Stone Diamond Ring

Precious metal table

Each precious metal ring has different physical factors that affect its durability and appearance. We have summarised this below in a useful table.

Rose Gold ring Yellow Gold ring White Gold ring Platinum ring Palladium ring
Visual appearance
An increasingly popular choice in recent years, this offers the wearer a softer, romantic look. A rose gold ring works particularly well with pink diamonds.A traditional choice which lends itself well to classic and vintage diamond engagement rings.More contemporary than yellow gold, white gold is a dazzling silvery white in colour.An iconic choice for engagement rings. Silvery white in colour, platinum accentuates the sparkle and brilliance of a diamond.Palladium is a naturally white metal. As it is newer to the bridal sector, not all craftsmen are experienced in working with it, so the variety of ring designs made in Palladium is less extensive.
Copper in the alloy strengthens rose gold making it the strongest of the golds. This is a wonderfully durable choice, suited to hands-on jobs and active lifestyles. High carat yellow gold can be scratched relatively easily, so consider the gold carat choice if your partner has an active lifestyle. See below for more detail.White gold is, in fact, stronger and more durable than yellow gold, but it does require more regular maintenance than other metal rings.Extremely strong, will never fade and is difficult to damage. Palladium is an extremely durable and malleable metal ring, this makes it easy to design with.
Ongoing maintenance
Other than cleaning, no maintenance is required.Yellow gold needs to be cleaned and polished regularly.Because it features rhodium plating, white gold must be re-plated with some regularity to maintain its colour.Other than cleaning, no maintenance is required.Other than cleaning, no maintenance is required.
Physical make-up
Rose gold is a gold and copper alloy that is sometimes also referred to as red gold or pink gold.Yellow gold is an alloy of pure gold combined with metals such as zinc and copper.White gold is an alloy of gold and a white metal such as palladium, manganese, or nickel.Platinum is a very rare metal and a very pure metal (often around 90% - 95% pure Platinum).Palladium is a metal with a very high percentage of purity when used in jewellery.
Skin tone & type
Suitable for all skin tones, but particularly flattering against olive or darker skin. Due to the inclusion of copper, rose gold can sometimes cause allergic reactions with very sensitive skin.Suitable for all skin tones, but particularly complementary against olive or darker skin tones.Suitable for all skin tones, but especially attractive against fair and rosy skin tones. If the alloy contains nickel this can cause skin reactions for those with sensitive skin.Suitable for all skin tones. Due to its purity, platinum is a good choice for those with sensitive skin.With its lustrous white appearance, palladium is versatile choice that flatters all skin tones. It is also hypoallergenic.
Depending on caratage, rose gold is similar in price to white or yellow gold. A rose gold ring is typically less expensive than a similar platinum metal ring.Depending on caratage, a yellow gold ring is similar in price to a white or a rose gold ring. It is less expensive than its platinum equivalent.Depending on caratage, white gold is similar in price to rose or yellow gold. Though white gold is more affordable than Platinum, it requires regular maintenance which may cause it to be more costly in the long run. Due to its unique characteristics and superior durability Platinum is usually the most expensive choice of all precious metal rings.Due to the fact palladium is much lighter than platinum this is a cost-effective option. However, the lightness of this precious metal might feel strange for some.

What are gold carats?

There is often confusion between how the term ‘carat’ is used in relation to gold and diamonds. Be sure you know the difference before you make your big purchase.

Carats in relation to gold are used to describe the purity of gold. Purity is measured on a scale of 24, 24k being the highest possible caratage as it relates to pure gold. Yellow gold, white gold and rose gold are all measured in the same carat scale. As 24k gold is often too soft for everyday jewellery, gold is often mixed with other precious metal alloys to make it more durable. 18k or 14k are ideal for a diamond engagement ring – after all this is a ring that will be worn and treasured forever and which needs to withstand everyday life.

Did you know

Carats in diamonds refer to their weight, whilst carats in gold refer to its purity – it is easy to get the two confused!

Top tips for choosing the perfect metal for your diamond engagement ring

Consider your partner’s personal preference for metal ring colour by observing what they currently wear. They may prefer one type of precious metal over another.

White gold may be the most budget friendly choice, but it does require regular maintenance, which may have more long term cost implications.

When selecting the best metal for rings, also consider your partner’s lifestyle as some precious metal rings are more scratch and dent resistant than others.

Diamond engagement ring checklist

Download our handy printable checklist to ensure you have everything you need before you visit your jewellers.

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Beyond the 4Cs

Throughout history, diamonds have dazzled and amazed. At De Beers Forevermark, we individually select diamonds against additional rigid criteria to ensure that only the most beautiful diamonds can become De Beers Forevermark.

Forever Guides

Sometimes a little help along the way is needed. From choosing the right ring size, to the perfect diamond engagement ring, or just simply how to care for your diamond; be inspired.