Rings are possibly the most symbolic item of jewelry and no more so than the engagement & wedding rings. Wedding rings will often attain a sentimental value for their owners that far exceeds the rings financial value. Brides and grooms go to great lengths planning their perfect weddings and the rings often seem like just one small part, but after the big day they will have some wonderful memories and some lovely photos but the only enduring, visible and daily reminder are the symbolic rings.
There are many types and style of ring, and each one will be available in number of variables so we will outline some of the popular ones. If you know exactly what you want and you just cant find it don’t be scared to have one custom made for you by a local jeweler, not all offer a bespoke or manufacturing service especially not major multiples but many independents do and they will be happy to discuss design ideas with you.
The four most common precious metals used to make jewelry are Silver, gold, platinum and palladium and rhodium is also very often used as a plating for white gold items to improve their colour (more on rhodium plating below). And each metal is available in different purities, the pure precious metals are alloyed (mixed) with other metals to produce varying grades and colour shades.
Alloying precious metals lowers their cost and make them more affordable, secondly it produces metals easier for jewellers to work with and in the case of gold, which is naturally yellow, it can be used to change its colour. It can also make items more durable and stronger, but the pure gold jewelry and artefacts on display in museums are testament to its enduring strength in pure form and the Chinese and Indian culture’s still mainly wear 22k-24k gold. The real benefit of additional strength of alloys is the ability to use more open settings for gemstones.
Gold is available in 9ct (37.5% gold), 14ct (58.5% gold), 18ct (75% gold), 22ct (91.6% gold) and 99.9% which is un-alloyed “pure” gold.
Platinum is available in 85%(850), 90%(900), 95% (950) and 99.9%
Pallaidum is available in 50%(500), 95%(950) and 99.9%
Silver is available in 800, 830, 925 and 999
Pure gold is yellow, really bright yellow, but mixing it with other metals can produce other colours, the two most common are red (also called pink & rose) & white but green, purple, grey & black hues can be produced.
Rhodium plating is so common on white gold that the public think that the colour produced is the colour of white gold. However pure gold is yellow, if its alloyed with white coloured metals such as palladium it can be made almost white. 9ct which is 37.5% gold can be made really white, but the best attempts with 18ct which is 75% yellow gold looks a little grey like steel so it is routinely plated with rhodium which makes it look like chrome.
For basic descriptive purposes there are 4 common styles of ring – gem set, signet, wedding band & stylised designs. And for each one there are multiple variations and some signets and styled are gem set etc. Gem rings like the one pictured below which is a single solitaire come in multiple variations and often include not just multiple gem stones but also multiple types.
Engagement and betrothal can be traced back thousands of years, and rings have also traditionally been given but the more modern “rules” of engagement rings can be traced back to the 1930’s. From the late 1930’s De Beers diamond marketing campaigns promoted diamonds to be used in engagement rings, and that 1 months salary should be spent which was latter increased to two. The adverts were so successful its estimated prior to the 1930’s only 10% of engagement rings contained diamonds but its currently at least 80%. There has been some backlash against De Beers, but the adverts were not misleading or a con as it has been suggested, they were simply so successful that the simple advertising slogans used became universally accepted into popular culture.
When it comes to engagement rings there are no rules just trends and fashions and often high expectations. There is no rule about what style constitutes an engagement ring, any ring that could be purchased and worn as a dress ring could also be worn to symbolise engagement. The most iconic, popular and traditional style today is probably the diamond solitaire ring, a single diamond set on a gold or platinum band.
Budget was suggested by De Beers as 1 months salary which they increased to 2 months in 1980’s adverts but everyone’s personal circumstances are different and you should spend the most you can afford or are both comfortable with, which may be considerably more or less than 2 months salary. Times & traditions change, and in this day & age your probably better to broach the subject of engagement with with your partner first than permission from her father first.
Engagement doesn’t need to be a surprise, the image of a man on one knee presenting a ring comes from adverts & Hollywood movies. It may make your life much easier if you can ask her how she would feel about engagement, and if you did one day propose whether she would prefer to be surprised by a ring or choose one for herself, many couples shop for engagement rings together. Amazingly it has been found that woman often choose lower priced rings than men.