Gold engagement rings are one of the most popular choices and classic choices. Gold is malleable, durable, hypoallergenic, tarnish-resistant, and rare enough to be precious.
In jewelry, gold is often alloyed or melted with other metals such as copper, silver, zinc, and nickel to give the metal added strength. This combination creates the different karat measurements such as 18-karat gold and 14-karat gold. 24-karat gold is gold in its purest form. (In the U.S. “karat” is the unit of gold purity while “ carat” is the unit of weight for diamonds and other gemstones – internationally, the term “ carat” may be used for both.) Alloys change the color and hardness of gold and also to make it more affordable. The imprint of 24K (karat), 18K, and 14K is also called its quality mark. Look for this imprint on the inside of a ring band.
18K gold is considered the industry standard for high quality jewelry, although 22K is popular in India and Southeast Asia for its deep yellow color. Higher karat alloys are softer and more flexible, and thus more often found in very intricate pieces of jewelry. At the same time, softer metals may not be suitable for pieces meant to be worn every day, such as many gold engagement rings.
14K vs. 18K Gold
14K gold is 58 percent gold whereas 18K is 75 percent gold. 18K gold is more valuable and tends to have a deeper color, however 14K gold may be stronger and more durable. 14K gold has a higher potential for tarnishing and may cause allergic reactions in some people due to the other metals it is alloyed with. In the United States, you will find a larger selection of 14K jewelry for gold engagement rings, earrings, necklaces, and other pieces.
Different karat levels of gold are often used in the mokume gane technique, a type of metalcraft that creates patterned alloys for richly textured rings. Gold may also be combined with other metals for different colors or contrasts for these unique rings.
Gold Setting Strength
When choosing a setting for a diamond ring, strength is the most important factor. Frequently, platinum, titanium, or other metal settings are used on gold engagement rings due to their greater strength and density. The setting is the actual prong or support structure used to secure the stones and must be able to withstand potential accidents or damage that could loosen the gems.
Caring for Gold Engagement Rings
Gold can be cleaned in a mild solution of soap and water or with special jewelry cleansers as well as alcohol and ammonia. Ammonia is especially good for brightening yellow gold. However, ammonia should never be used on jewelry with fracture-filled diamonds as it may cause them to become cloudy or discolored. Other diamond flaws and inclusions may also be affected by strong chemicals.
Chlorine should be avoided at all costs, as it may cause gold to dissolve or become pitted. Remove gold jewelry before swimming or entering a hot tub, or when using harsh cleansers that may contain chlorine. Cleaning brushes should be used cautiously because they may cause scratching, particularly on higher karat-value pieces.
When storing a gold ring, the best option is to place the ring in a cloth box or bag away from other jewelry. This prevents the gold from becoming scratched by other gems, and it prevents the diamond from harming other items as well.
Gold rings are popular, traditional, and timeless. Whether you choose a high or low-karat value, a traditional solitaire or an intricate design, a simple setting or a unique structure, the yellow sheen of gold is instantly recognizable and will always remain a symbol of your enduring relationship.