The Most Popular Metals Used for the Making of Wedding Rings in South Africa
Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each of the most popular metals used in the making of wedding rings in South Africa will help you make an informed buying decision. Palladium, tungsten, white gold, yellow gold, and platinum are certainly the most widely used. We look at a few of their features below.
Palladium is a metal that belongs to the platinum group and is known as a noble metal because of its exceptional resistance to corrosion and oxidation. As such, wedding rings made from palladium do not corrode, get spots or discolour, and because palladium is also hypoallergenic, it can be worn by most people. One problem often experienced with white gold is that it does not stay white. Special treatment is necessary to maintain the beautiful white colour. Palladium does not have that problem, since it does not lose its white colour and will not tarnish. High durability is one of the most important characteristics of this metal that does not require any additional plating for protection. One disadvantage is the price tag, since the metal is extremely rare, but it is still more affordable than platinum.
The sister metal of palladium, platinum is a popular choice for wedding rings in South Africa because of its white colour. Some people prefer platinum because it gets a silver sheen with time, which gives the wedding band an authentic, classical or antique look and feel. However, if you do not like the antique look, regular cleaning with a mild lukewarm soap solution and a soft-bristle brush will help maintain the natural white sheen. You can also use a lint-free cloth to buff its surface.
Platinum is a suitable choice for engagement rings because it brings out the brilliance of diamonds and, like diamonds, the platinum band will last a lifetime. With it being exceptionally dense, platinum provides a highly secure setting for the diamond. As a white metal, it requires no rhodium plating to stay white. Durability, strength, corrosion resistance, and its hypoallergenic characteristics make platinum – though more expensive than palladium and other precious metals – a popular choice for wedding rings in South Africa.
With its unique and distinct yellow colour, gold is extremely popular for wedding bands and engagement rings. The contrast between the yellowish surface and the white diamond is striking. Gold is more affordable than platinum and palladium, but it is also softer. This means in order to prevent the gold from denting and scratching easily, it is mixed with a low percentage of other alloys. However, the purity level is still high and you can get anything from light to deep yellow gold, depending on your preference. The purity level is indicated in karat measure, with 24-karat being the highest and rather soft, and 9-karat the lowest in purity, but very hard.
Yellow gold normally contains a mixture of copper and silver, which gives it the warm and rich colour that makes it a popular metal for wedding rings. White gold has a distinctive silver-white colour. It is very strong, but it is necessary to have it rhodium-treated every few years to keep it beautifully white. The presence of rhodium is what makes it harder than yellow gold. Rose gold, though still rare in the making of wedding jewellery, has a rose pink hue, which is obtained through a mixture of gold and copper alloy.
It is more popular as metal for the groom’s wedding band than for the bride’s. The metal does not scratch or tarnish easily. This makes it a good choice for the groom’s wedding band, especially to cater to an active or outdoor lifestyle. To keep it looking beautiful, the metal should not be exposed to harsh chemicals. Cleaning is done with lukewarm water and a soft cloth.
Emerging Trends for Engagement Rings in South Africa
Although wedding bands symbolise the bond between a husband and wife, it is invariably the more eye-catching engagement rings that capture most of the attention and provide the wow factor, not just in South Africa, but all over the world. The earliest record of them given to indicate the intention to marry dates from 1477, when the Austrian Archduke of the time presented his intended with a diamond ring set in the shape of her initial – M for Mary. However, some anthropologists suggest that, although they were attached to keys as a means to declare the male’s ownership and not worn on the finger, the custom may have originated far earlier, during Roman times. Even before that, it appears that cavemen tied grass cords around the waists, ankles, and wrists of their mates for the same purpose.
Over time, however, the role of the engagement ring has changed and is now seen as a token of love and betrothal – a symbolism that some of the more talented jewellery designers in South Africa (given the abundance of quality diamonds and other precious stones at their disposal) have found many innovative and beautiful ways to express. In fact, it was the discovery of vast deposits of diamonds in the Cape Colony that led to the De Beers mining company becoming responsible for 99% of the world’s stones and the dawn of an age in which many more people would now have access to them.
Just as clothing manufacturers must adjust to the changing trends in fashion, so too must manufacturing jewellers. Possibly one of the most successful developments of past times was the Tiffany setting in which a circle of six prongs was used to raise the stones above the supporting band, thus serving to maximise their brilliance. For many years, solitaires and clusters assembled in this manner dominated the market.
Today, new trends in the design of engagement rings by craftsmen both in South Africa and internationally are providing many new and exciting choices for the modern bride-to-be. Given that the average future husband is now called upon to invest at least two monthly salary cheques to cover the purchase price, it is important to make the selection with care. Some retail jewellers apply high mark-ups that can range from 300% to as much as 600%. Many couples, however, now choose an alternative option that ensures not just a more affordable product but an item of beautiful jewellery together with the guarantee of far greater value for the amount spent.
Rather than an off-the-shelf creation, they are opting for a bespoke design, purchasing good quality stones and having them set to their requirements. Given this freedom of choice, among current trends when purchasing engagement rings in South Africa, is an open setting that serves to better display the sparkle of a solitaire. For those seeking a clean-cut, modern look that will really showcase a stone, the so-called “over-under” style is rapidly gaining popularity.
Colour has always been part of the fashion statement and rose gold is now becoming a frequent replacement for its yellow and white relatives, as well as for platinum. Other colour trends are to be found among the stones themselves with a move to classics like rubies, emeralds and blue sapphires, and also to canary and black diamonds, morganite, and pink sapphires.
Needless to say, to be sure that trends such as these are successfully incorporated into your design, you will need to identify a master craftsman with the necessary skills and experience, and who can source the stones at competitive prices. Ticking both of these boxes, and with access to more than 10 000 high-quality, certified diamonds of between 0,3 and 5,0 carats, where better in South Africa than Naturally Diamonds to commission the engagement ring of your dreams at a price you can afford?