Kay - A guide to ring metals

Beyond look and feel, factors like durability, and if a metal is hypoallergenic, can help you determine the right engagement or wedding ring.

Explore both traditional and alternative metals below



Platinum has a soft white hue. It's 30 times more rare than gold (which means it's more expensive) and 40% heavier than 14K gold - and it doesn't tarnish or oxidize. Because of its hardness, a platinum ring often looks sharper from intricate engraving than a gold ring.


Platinum in jewelry is 90% to 95% pure, which brings out the beauty of diamonds set in platinum engagement rings.


Types of gold:

Yellow gold

Pure gold mixed with a little silver and copper for a warm look.

White gold

Pure gold is combined with palladium and silver or with nickel, copper and zinc. Rhodium plating improves whiteness and durability.

Green gold

Actually yellowish-green in appearance, this is pure gold plus silver.

Pink and Rose gold

Increasingly popular, these reddish gold options are pure gold plus copper. The more copper, the redder the metal.


Gold purity is measured in karats (not to be confused with carats, a measure of gem weight). Karats are divided into 24 parts, so 24 parts of gold - known as 24K gold - is pure. However, 24K gold is soft and easily damaged, so it's mixed - or alloyed - with other metals to make it more durable. For example, 14K gold is 14 parts gold, 10 parts other metal. Jewelry must be at least 10K to be sold as gold in the United States.



Sterling silver can range from bright white to grayish white, and can have a matte or shiny finish.


Like gold, pure silver is too soft to be used in jewelry. It's combined with other metals such as copper to boost its strength. Sterling silver must contain at least 92.5% pure silver, which is why it's stamped as .925.

COLBALT ALLOY (or Cobalt-Chromium-Molybdenum Alloy)


Cobalt Alloy is a bright white metal, and is four times harder than platinum. It's heavier than other alternative metals (such as titanium), giving it a heavier feeling for those who want heft to their wedding jewelry. It is also scratch-resistant and hypoallergenic.



Shiny and strong, stainless steel rings can be polished to take on different looks - the more matte look of pewter or the reflective look of chrome. Either way, some people appreciate the sturdy, modern look of the metal.


Stainless Steel is mixed with at least 10.5% chromium to resist oxidation.



Black, grey or silver, titanium rings often have inlays of other metals and commonly come with polished or satin finishes. Titanium is very strong and lightweight.


Titanium jewelry doesn't include alloys and is hypoallergenic.



This silvery metal alloy is the hardest of all metals. Tungsten carbide rings create a brilliant, hard-looking shine.


We cannot support this claim entirely - tungsten carbide contains some nickel to which many people are allergic. We could say the compound is strong, dense, heat - and chemically-resistant.


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