Tips and Tricks

Engagement Ring Metal Choices To Enhance Diamond

Metalhead: Choosing the Right Metal for Your Diamond

Someone has said YES, and the perfect diamond has been chosen! It’s so exciting, you might just puke!! But don’t. It’s just not cute.

Now, all that’s left to do is decide how to show that baby off. SIMPLE! It seems like it should be the easiest aspect of the whole affair, but honestly, it can be one of the hardest parts! How do you make sure that the rock you’ve just spent an obscene amount of money on (but not too obscene, because we helped you avoid overspending) is going into the right setting? Where do you even start?

HINT: Start with the ring metal.

See, we think that choosing the right metal is actually one of the most important aspects of picking the perfect engagement ring setting. Mistakes can be made. Mishaps may occur. The result? A beauty of a stone sitting inside a hot old mess. It would be like buying a Porsche and fitting it with Hyundai wheels. Why? Just why. Fancy avoiding such mishaps? Well, listen up, buttercup, because there are four main things to consider when selecting the metal for your ring:

  1. Color me Happy If you want to be as happy as Julia Roberts in that classic Pretty Woman scene, then make sure you pick a metal that will complement the color grade of your stone. You want the metal color to work with your diamond, not against it.
  2. Be as obsessed with mirrors as Julia Roberts, by remembering that diamonds are basically teeny tiny mirrors! This means that they reflect any colors that are directly surrounding them – including those in the setting you choose.
  3. Think about gold purity. Do you want it to be as close to pure gold as possible? Then go for a higher-karat gold! 24k gold is the purest, moving along down to 18k gold, 14k gold, 12k gold and 9k gold. You need to remember that the higher the karat, the softer the gold, so a 24-karat gold ring might not be great for everyday wear. Go with 18-karat or even 14-karat in that case.
  4. Allergies. There is no point in picking a beautiful yellow/rose/white gold ring if the wearer of said ring has a terrible nickel allergy due to sensitive skin! This is because all gold is mixed with nickel (and other metals such as copper alloy) for color and durability purposes. Find out if they have any metal allergies before forking out that cash. Platinum and palladium are good precious metal popular choices as white metal alternatives to gold.

Keeping those four little nuggets of information in mind (that was a gold joke, in case it wasn’t blindingly obvious) will go a long way towards helping you pick the perfect metal for your engagement ring. But just to be sure, let’s get into the weeds a little more. That’s right… We’re getting Golden, Girls (and Guys)!

Gold options

There’s Always Time for Blanche and The Gals

Yellow Gold

A yellow gold ring is a classic choice, let’s face it. Nothing says timeless like a big fat solitaire diamond in a yellow gold setting. That said, there are times when you should run towards yellow gold, and times you should run far, far away (unless you love it then ignore everything I’m about to say and do ya thang).

You see, as per rule number two above, the teeny tiny little mirror that is your diamond will busy itself absorbing all that lovely golden hue from the metal, and as a result that stone will look at least one color grade yellower! NOPE. We suggest that if you have a diamond that has a D, E or F color grade, avoid yellow gold.

It is also worth keeping in mind that this metal color-sucking tendency of diamonds (that’s the scientific name for it *coughs awkwardly*) is only intensified with cuts such as emeralds or asschers. That’s because these step-cut diamonds draw all their fabulous light and sparkle from underneath the stone (i.e. where the damn gold is, people). This means that these particular diamond shapes will only reflect even more of the golden hue of yellow gold than a classic round solitaire.

We know when you should be running away from yellow gold, but when should you be running towards it? In the lower color grades!!! Yup, you’ve guessed it, yellow gold is your friend when you have a stone sitting around the H – K range. Although our diamonds do absorb the color of the metal, it doesn’t actually matter so much in the lower color grades, because it’s balanced out (and then some) by the fact that the yellowish diamond is made to look whiter next to the darker yellow of the metal! The yellow of the metal works to distract your eye from the yellow of the stone, like magic.


Rose gold will behave in the same way as yellow gold, so apply the same rules as above. Just as with yellow, the trick with rose gold is to make sure that the diamond appears much whiter relative to the metal – so stick with those lower range diamond colors for max effect. Plus, rose gold won’t just hide (rather than emphasize) color just like yellow gold, it’s also just a really beautiful metal if you want to go with something slightly different.

White Gold

Remember when I said that diamonds are tiny little mirrors? You’d better because it was only a few lines ago. Anywho, guess what happens when you have a diamond sitting on top of white gold? It reflects NO YELLOW. Hurray!

Yes, it’s all coming together now! The rules for white gold are basically the opposite of yellow gold, so think of white gold as the mirror twin of yellow gold. With that in mind, we should now be able to guess that diamonds of a higher color grade (say, D to G for instance) will look their absolute whitest when sitting pretty in a white gold 

On the other hand, a white gold band with a diamond in the lower color categories (think down towards K on the spectrum) will emphasize the yellowish tones of your diamond. If you like a warmer color in your stone, we say go for white gold of course! But if you do fancy avoiding making the stone look less white, move away from the yellow gold and embrace that white gold with both arms.

And what about Platinum, you say?


You need platinum because of a nickel allergy? YES. We support you (and actually palladium is great in the case of nickel allergies too). You want platinum for its durability? FINE! Go for it. We will wave banner signs of encouragement as you buy it. You want platinum because you think it looks different from white gold. Honey, no.

Don’t waste your money! Stick with white gold. It looks exactly the same, behaves exactly the same, and costs significantly less. Don’t want to miss out on having that stunning yellow gold band, but want to avoid the dreaded metal color-sucking? Why not go loco and have a yellow gold band with white gold prongs?!

This situation is the best of both worlds, and we highly recommend it. White gold prongs and crown will mean that the whiteness of the stone will pop, while keeping the beauty of the yellow gold in the band, safely away from any metal color-sucking catastrophes. This trick obviously works better when you have a higher color stone but still want some yellow gold. And the opposite will work well if you have a lower color stone; simply keep your prongs and crown yellow gold and go crazy with the white on the band!

The possibilities are endless! OK, not really, there are only two, but they are both awesome so stop whining and go order your ring setting.

Dr. Rian Mulcahy
Dr. Rian Mulcahy
Rian is officially a Diamond PhD - just ping us if you’d like to read her fascinating 200-page thesis, titled Facets of Value: An Investigation into the Formation of Worth in the Diamond Market. She has consulted various firms all along the pipeline, from the rough diamond market to the recycled diamond industry. She holds an MA in Globalisation and Development from University College Cork and a PhD in the Sociology of Diamond Valuation from the London School of Economics.