Beginner’s Guide to Metals and Settings


multi-stone-engagement-ringWithout a doubt, an engagement ring is one of the biggest purchases you will ever make. Not only does it represent life’s most meaningful commitment, but engagement rings typically come with a hefty price tag. You wouldn’t buy a car without doing your homework, and you shouldn’t walk into a jewelry store without some basic jewelry 101 knowledge. Make the most of your purchasing power with research.

Know your metals

The preferred metals for engagement ring settings include gold, platinum and palladium. Silver and other soft metals are not strong enough to survive years of wear. Rings often have two points of weakness: Their bands can thin and split, and their prongs that secure gemstones can become loose or break off. To avoid losing a diamond or your ring, have your engagement ring checked by your jeweler once a year.


Gold is an extraordinary metal, which in its pure form never tarnishes. Pure gold, however, is too soft to secure a diamond. For engagement rings, choose 18- or 14- karat gold. Yellow gold is mixed with white alloys and plated with rhodium to create white gold. White gold yellows with time and needs to be replated. There are also other gold options, like pink gold.


Platinum is stronger than gold and is less likely to split or lose a prong with normal wear. Platinum is the jeweler’s metal of choice. It is 30 times rarer than gold and 95 percent pure. Needless to say, it’s the pricier metal.

Know your settings

Engagement rings with stones already set in the band are readily available. You also can purchase the stone and the setting separately. Settings, mounts or blanks, as they are sometimes called in the trade, are designed without center stones, though they may already be decorated with side stones or small stones on their bands.

A solitaire setting has space for a single featured stone in a plain band.

A multi-stone setting has space for two or more featured stones in each mounting.

A semi-mount is a ring already decorated with diamonds or colored stones, with space for a central featured stone.

A pave setting is a popular semi-mount featuring tiny stones set so close together that very little metal shows through. The name comes from the French for pavement — it’s “paved” with precious stones.

How much will it cost you?

Typically you should expect to spend a two month salary’s worth for an engagement ring. Now this rule is not exactly set in stone, but if you’re someone who can’t spend that amount of money, the key to picking out an engagement ring is to pick one that’s attractive, not too cheap, and within your budget.

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