The Best Wedding and Engagement Rings
Okay, I admit that “the best” wedding ring or engagement ring is quite subjective and going to be largely a matter of personal preference. However, there are some matters of quality and similar things that we think can be reasonably categorized as “the best” (or at least, “better than…”). Here we’ll talk about how to pick the best engagement ring or wedding band (or both!) in terms of quality, durability, and ethics.
The best metals for engagement rings and wedding bands
The metal you choose will depend on your personal taste and budget constraints, but for women’s rings the best metals are platinum, palladium and 18K gold (any color, yellow, white or rose gold). Why are they the best?
Platinum is the most durable and pure metal used in fine jewelry today, with a brilliant white color that won’t fade or tarnish over time. The drawback to platinum is that it also tends to be the most expensive choice for engagement rings and wedding bands and it can be difficult to resize. But for a ring that should last a lifetime, it’s really the best choice as far as white metals go.
A slightly more economical alternative to platinum is palladium, which is also very strong, pure and resistant to tarnishing and fading. The white isn’t quite as bright as platinum, but very close, so palladium also makes our list of the best metals for engagement rings.
If you want a different color or just like the idea of gold, your best option is 18K gold. In this case, more pure (22K or 24K) is not necessarily better; gold is a very soft metal, and anything higher than 18K is likely to get damaged with daily wear. Keep in mind that if you get plating on the gold (such as rhodium plating on white gold), this will wear off over time and you will need to get it replated.
The best diamonds for engagement and wedding rings
In terms of quality, keep in mind the four “C”s of diamonds: cut, clarity, color and carat, with cut being the most important (and this is not the same as shape). The better the cut, the more sparkle or “fire” the stone will have. Cuts are usually rated as: good, very good, excellent, and ideal.
On a darker note, the diamond and gemstone industry can be problematic for ethical and environmental reasons. If that’s important to you or your partner, you might be considering a certified conflict-free diamond. Unfortunately, with the many middlemen that a diamond passes through, “conflict-free” means almost nothing these days, unless you can independently verify your stone was mined in Canada. The official Kimberly Process definition of “conflict-free” still allows for child labor and exploitation of workers. Brilliant Earth is one company that has committed to going beyond that definition and selling only diamonds that have truly ethical origins. But if you can’t be sure about the diamond’s origins, you might also consider a lab-created diamond. These are chemically identical to “natural” diamonds (so the term “synthetic diamond” is really a misnomer), just grown in a lab where you don’t have to worry about civil wars and child labor. Plus, they are often more affordable!