So, you’ve decided to buy a gold ring and need some guidance? Let’s take a look at the most important factors you should consider before you decide what kind of ring to buy.
What Karat Should My Gold Ring Be?
Gold karat is a number that tells you how many parts pure gold are in a jewelry piece, out of a total of 24 parts. For example, 10-karat gold rings contain approximately 42% gold (10 divided by 24), and the rest is other metals such as zinc, nickel, etc.
As you might guess, higher karat gold is more expensive as it is purer, so take price into consideration when deciding on a karat.
However, there is another factor that is sometimes overlooked: durability. Since pure gold is very soft, the lower the karat of your gold ring, the harder and more durable it will be.
Here are some simple rules to help you decide when you should go for a higher or lower karat:
Low-karat gold rings (e.g., 10k or 14k) are suitable for everyday wear as they are harder to scratch and will need to be polished less often.
In addition, ring parts made of low-karat gold are not bent or broken as easily as those made of purer gold.
High-karat gold rings (e.g., 18k, 20k or 22k) are a good choice for pieces that you will not wear often. They will look yellower than low-karat rings but will also scratch more easily.
Rings made of purer gold will also wear down more quickly, and their parts will be easier to break.
Does the Gold Ring Contain Nickel?
Nickel is a metal that is commonly added to gold alloys. The problem with it is that it can cause skin rashes in people allergic to nickel.
If you have such an allergy, do not buy 10k gold rings as the concentration of nickel in them could be too high for you. 14k gold rings may be a better choice, but sometimes they can also be problematic for people with an allergy.
To be on the safe side, pick a ring that is 18k and above. It’s not that purer gold rings cannot contain nickel, but its concentration in higher karat gold is usually too low to cause allergy symptoms.
What Should the Ring Setting Be Made Of?
If your gold ring has a gemstone set in it, make sure you know what the setting is made of. This is especially important for prong settings, where the stones are held in place by tiny posts.
If these prongs are made of yellow gold, they will wear out quickly because of the softness of the metal, and if one or more worn prongs bend or break, you may lose your gemstone.
It is much better if the prongs in your ring’s setting are made of a more durable metal such as platinum (if you can afford it). Another good choice is white gold: It is covered with rhodium plating, which makes it more durable and less likely to bend.
Should the Ring Be Solid Gold or Gold Plated?
Not all gold rings are made entirely of gold – some are just covered with a layer of it, and underneath the coating there are other metals.
Such gold plated rings are usually cheaper than solid gold ones. However, the plating will wear off over time, depending on how often you wear the ring.
In general, only consider buying a gold plated ring if you are going to wear it occasionally; otherwise, the plating won’t last long. If you are allergic to nickel, make sure the underlying material doesn’t contain it, or skip gold plated items altogether.
For rings that you will wear more often, stick with solid gold: It will be more durable in the long term.
Consider the Ring Body
When looking at a gold ring you might want to buy, make sure you also consider how sturdy its body is.
The band of the ring should not be too thin – if it is, it will easily get even thinner as you wear it, and at some point, it is likely to break.
Since gold is a soft metal that wears down easily, pick a ring that is reasonably thick so that it won’t bend or break after a year or so.