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Wedding Ring Metals – A Guide By The Experts

Written by    Last updated: June 17, 2013

What happens after you get engaged? You plan your wedding of course! The dress, the venue, the guests… you also have to choose the one thing that remains with you for ever more after the big day. No, we’re not talking about your husband, but about your wedding rings. You are not likely to change them in the near (or hopefully) distant future and you’ll probably wear them daily. Nick, Confetti’s jewellery expert from Bands of Love is here to help you make the right choice with his guides to buying the perfect wedding rings! This guide focuses on a crucial feature – the wedding ring metals.

engagement ring bride and groom to be

Wedding ring hallmarks

It is a legal requirement in the UK for all vendors of precious metals to have their products stamped with a hallmark. The hallmark proves that the wedding ring is made from real precious metal, so no further validation should be needed. Hallmarks on wedding rings should depict three compulsory symbols:

  • The manufacturer’s mark
  • A mark confirming the metal’s pureness (read on for an explanation)
  • The assay office at which the ring was hallmarked (the UK’s 4 assay offices are in London, Sheffield, Birmingham and Edinburgh)

The hallmark may also contain the following additional symbols:

  • A symbol relating to the precious metal
  • A single letter which relates to the year the ring was created

Assay office symbols

Gold wedding rings

The most traditional choice for wedding rings is simple graceful and original yellow gold, which comes in a variety of purities, measured in “carats”. The usual carat amounts used in the UK are 9ct, 18ct, and 22ct.

Budget conscious and practical – 9ct: this gold is made of 37.5% pure gold, and the rings will carry a hallmark with the fineness figure of ‘375’. The remaining 62.5% is made of various alloys such silver, copper and nickel. 9ct gold is often used where budget is under consideration as it’s less expensive to produce due to the lower pure gold content. Rings made from 9ct gold wear and last very well and are often made in larger and heavier styles so are recommended for those who do manual work.

9 carat gold wedding rings

Luxurious and vibrant – 18ct: this is 9ct gold’s opulent sister, made of 75% pure gold, carrying a hallmark fineness figure of ‘750’. The remaining 25% is made of various alloys, but in lesser amounts. This means that 18ct gold is softer and may pick up marks more easily. On the other hand, it has a more vibrant gold colour which many find ideal for a wedding ring.

18 carat gold wedding ring

Pure and glowing – 22ct: lesser used but still very popular in the UK, this is the purest form of gold used for wedding rings. Made of 91.6% pure gold, it carries a hallmark fineness figure of 916. It’s lustrously yellow in appearance so quite an eye-catcher, but also the softest of all gold varieties and will pick up scratches quite easily, making it less practical for daily wear. However, its proximity to pureness means a re-polish will quickly bring it back to its original beauty.

22 carat gold wedding ring

Other carat amounts: the US often make jewellery in 14ct gold which seems to offer a highbred between the durability of 9ct gold and the luxuriousness of 18ct. In India, the lively yellow 22ct gold is most commonly used. Other than for making investment gold in the form of bars or coins, 24ct is generally not used for wedding rings as it is too soft to work with and will not form well under manufacturing conditions.

Other types of gold: you may be looking for a bit of a colour variety for your wedding rings. It is often mistakenly stated that gold is found naturally in many colours. This isn’t quite the case – gold is always yellow. White gold or rose gold is in fact yellow gold alloyed with specific metals to alter its colour. For example, white gold is usually found in 9ct or 18ct varieties and is alloyed with whitening metals such as silver, palladium, nickel and iridium. The majority of white gold wedding rings will be plated in rhodium for a radiant white shiny finish. White gold is rarely made in anything above 18ct, as a white finish cannot be achieved when more yellow gold is present. Rose or red gold is yellow gold mainly alloyed with copper, which gives it that lovely warm glow.

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2 thoughts on “Wedding Ring Metals – A Guide By The Experts

  1. Melissa Pye says:

    This article is really helpful – thank you!

    • Agnes Los says:

      Thank you for your comment Melissa – we’re so glad! Please feel free to ask Nick should you have any queries about wedding rings.