Clients often ask us what type of white metal is best for engagement rings. The traditional choices are 14-karat white-gold (58.5% gold), 18-karat white-gold (75% gold), and platinum (95% platinum).
To produce the white color, white gold contains alloys such as silver, manganese, palladium, rhodium and nickel. When nickel is used in the alloy mix, it can cause allergic reactions in some people.
White gold rings are usually rhodium plated. Rhodium is a very white, reflective, and hard metal so provides an excellent surface for engagement rings. As rhodium is a plating, it will wear off with usual wear over months or years depending on the wear. The rhodium can be reapplied at most jewelry repair shops for a relatively small fee.
Platinum is a very durable metal and does not cause allergic reactions. However, platinum is relatively soft so tends to get dull and scratched over time, even more than white gold. As a result, it requires regular polishing to keep it shiny.
Our favorite metal for engagement ring uses a special 18-karat white-gold that contains a palladium alloy so is whiter and more scratch and bend resistant than platinum. Since the 18-karat white-gold stays shinier and is stronger than platinum, this is what we recommend to our clients. For clients who like a more antique look, the duller patina look of platinum is the way to go.