Unconventional, alternative, unique, and one-of-a-kind are all words used when discussing non-traditional engagement and wedding rings. When it comes to choosing a ring you expect to wear as often as these types of rings, there are many details to consider about the materials used. Obviously, you'll want to make sure your ring is well made. And, depending on how active you are with your hands, different types of metal and their finishes need to be factored in. Gemstone hardness and toughness (yes there’s a difference) are both important factors to take into account as well.
Gemstone durability is the ability of a stone to withstand daily wear, heat, and chemicals. Durable gemstones don’t fade when exposed to light. Gemstone hardness is a gem’s resistance to scratches. The Mohs scale is a ranking of mineral hardness from 1 to 10. Diamond is the only 10 on the chart and the most commonly used stone for engagement and wedding rings. Sapphire and ruby are wonderful alternative stone choices for rings and rank a 9. While many people love opal rings, this gemstone may not be best suited for daily wear as it’s hardness is between a 5 and 6 and many things can scratch opal. So it's best to keep your opal rings for special occasions and, if you plan to wear everyday, make sure to take them off when doing more active activities such as bathing, washing dishes, house or yard work, or aerobic activity.
Let’s talk metals and their finishes. Depending on your daily level of activity and your aesthetic preferences, metal durability and quality ring fabrication are also important. Gold is a popular choice for engagement and wedding rings but it is a malleable metal. It's soft, which means it scratches. In fact, the higher the karat, the softer the metal. So as much as you may want a 24k gold ring it’s probably not practical for daily wear. 14k gold is better for daily wear because it's more resistant to scratching and dings. Sterling silver is also a malleable metal and similar to gold, so the same rules apply.
The type of polish or finish can also make a difference when it comes to scratches and minor dings. For example, a mirror polish will show scratches immediately while a matte, textured, or brushed finish will be much less likely to be noticeable to the naked eye.
As an example, the malachite azurite and diamond ring in the photo is made with 14k gold. It has a textured matte finish on the outside of the ring to help with daily wear and a high mirror polish on the inside of the band to give you that extra bit of bling you'll love and it won't get scratched.
Platinum, palladium, and titanium are other metals commonly found in engagement and wedding rings. These are all harder than gold and silver, so if you are extremely rough and active and rarely plan to remove your rings, these three metals may be a good choice for you.
At Karin Luvaas Fine Jewelry, we specialize in self-gift items and carefully consider how each item will be worn when selecting their materials, finish, and stones. Daily wear items, like rings, are constructed for durability while necklaces and earrings often use softer materials because they're not subject to nearly as much wear and tear.