Wedding & Engagement Rings Explained

There's actually a lot to know about rings.

The standards for gold, palladium and platinum.

Diamond quality. Shapes and sizes.

And taking care of your rings.

  • Types of Precious Metal

Pure precious metals (Gold, Palladium, Platinum) from Johnson Matthey

Gold is graded in carats (ct or k) where 24 carats is pure gold. The grades or qualities of gold that we sell are:

9ct is 9/24 of gold by weight (as a decimal that's .375 or 37.5% gold)
18ct is 18/24 of gold by weight (as a decimal that's .750 or 75% gold)
22ct is 22/24 of gold by weight (as a decimal that's .916 or 91.6% gold)

Gold is available in 4 colours: yellow, white, rose (or pink), and "champagne". White colours are obtained by alloying gold with silver and palladium; and those that appear pinker or redder are formed from gold mixed with copper. The colour of "champagne" gold is between rose and yellow gold, and is similar to the hues associated with Victorian jewellery. White gold is not completely white in colour so is usually rhodium plated to give it a really white finish. Over time this plating will inevitably wear away and the underlying colour of the gold alloy will show. Re-plating is possible or you may prefer to live with the patina of age.

Palladium is a rare and lustrous silvery-white precious metal that resembles Platinum and forms part of the Platinum Group metals (Platinum, Rhodium, Ruthenium, Iridium and Osmium). It has been used for some time in various types of jewellery and wedding rings but its popularity has increased in recent years. From the 1st January 2010 the four UK assay offices have been hallmarking Palladium. Recognised fineness standards are: 500, 950 and 999. That's parts per thousand. Our Palladium wedding rings use the highly pure 950 or 95% Palladium by weight. Palladium is less dense than Platinum so a Palladium wedding ring feels lighter. It is also significantly less expensive than Platinum being priced between 9ct and 18ct gold. By contrast the price of Platinum is usually higher than 24ct gold.


All of our Palladium wedding rings are made in Palladium 950 but others sell Palladium 500. If you notice a Palladium wedding ring price that looks low then check to see if it's made of Palladium 500. If it is then the wedding ring contains just 50% precious metal. We think 95% Palladium wedding rings are better. We hope you agree. And we're sure you will love our Palladium wedding ring designs.


Platinum is an extremely rare noble metal, very dense and highly resistant to corrosion. Platinum is the most expensive of all the precious metals. UK assay offices recognise four levels of fineness for Platinum: 850, 900, 950 and 999. We only use the highest jewellery grade, that's Platinum 950, in our wedding rings. It's the purest from which wedding rings are made, so it's the best.

Every wedding ring and engagement ring we delivery in the UK is, in accordance with law, hallmarked by an official assay office to indicate the fineness of the precious metal.


Colours of gold

Please note that on-screen colour reproduction varies enormously so the actual colour of your rings will not be identical to that seen on this website.

  • Durability

Precious metals are softer than steel and ceramics. Your hand, and therefore your wedding ring, will continually come into contact with hard metal objects like door and cupboard handles, taps, coins and keys. Inevitably your rings will quickly show scratches, dents and marks as a result of this normal everyday use. In contrast to the perfect finish of the rings when new you may find these marks disconcerting. However, as they accumulate they will blend into one another and create a patina that reflects the passage of time. To illustrate this, the first pair of photographs below shows marking of a matte finished wedding ring in 18ct rose gold and palladium 950; the second shows scratches across platinum 950 and 18ct gold.


wear and tear

The properties of precious metals do vary but, as we've explained, in practical terms all of them will quickly become scratched and dented through normal use. However, you may be interested in the various ways to measure hardness which, to add to the complexity, also depends on the precise type of alloy and how it has been worked. The Vickers Test measures resistance to indentation and is shown in HV units.


Mohs scale hardness of precious metals

The Mohs Scale reflects the ability of the surface of a substance to resist scratching.


Mohs scale hardness of precious metals

  • Brushed Finish vs Polished

In the first few days of wear, when your rings are brand new, a brushed finish will accentuate marks more than polished. This for a couple of reasons. First because the eye notices the disruptions that marks make in the otherwise regular brushed pattern. It's also because the marks tend to be brighter (or sometimes darker) than the brushed finish.

In contrast, the initial marks in a high polished ring tend to be disguised by the brightness of the reflections. Of course the marks are still there and they are visible to the eye, you just have to look a little harder to see all of them.

As marks accumulate over a few weeks of use, for both brushed and polished finishes, they will become clearly noticeable. If you focus on them at this point they can be worrisome. However, this is actually just normal wear and tear for all precious metals exposed to the everyday environment.

After about 6 to 12 months your rings will have integrated all the various marks, scratches and dings into a patina that reflects their "lived-in" status. At this point it can be quite hard to tell which ring started out as brushed and which as polished!

In the end, a brushed ring becomes marked and develops a partial polish in some areas as a result of rubbing. And a polished ring becomes similarly marked but looses it shine due to the accumulation of a myriad of tiny scratches. Although they start out looking quite different they move towards appearing quite similar. Finally, after about 2 years your rings will have taken on their "mature" appearance gracefully ageing as you journey through life together.

  • Care

For care and cleaning guidance for your engagement rings and wedding rings please click here.

  • Diamond Quality

What you need to know about diamonds is usually referred to as the 4 C’s: Cut, Clarity, Colour, Carat.

Cut is the way that the rough diamond has been shaped into a gemstone. The most usual cut is the "modern brilliant" which, with 58 facets, maximises the diamond's sparkle. Fancy cuts which include pear shape, marquise, emerald cut and princess cut, can be very attractive alternatives.

Clarity is a way to describe marks and flaws within a diamond. Tiny, so called "inclusions", are small pieces of black carbon or other minerals located inside the diamond. External blemishes, those on the surface of the stone, are also incorporated into the Clarity score of a diamond. Diamonds are formally graded according to the following scale:


Diamond clarity for fine quality wedding rings from LGBT jeweler

As standard our round diamonds are either graded SI or VS, depending on the particular ring design. This means that to the naked eye it is highly unlikely that any inclusions will be seen. However, upon request, we can provide a quotation to upgrade to even greater clarity. All of our baguette diamonds are supplied in IF grade.

Colour is extremely important. A pure white or colourless diamond is the best. However, diamonds come in many shades of colour and this determines the price. Diamond colour is graded from D to Z with D being colourless (the very best) and Z representing a yellowish colour. The standard set by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) describes the grade ranges as follows:


Diamond colour for fine quality wedding rings from LGBT jeweler

All of our diamonds are at the very top end of this scale being H or even better depending on the particular ring design.

Carat is the weight of the diamond: 1 carat = 0.2 grams. You should not confuse the carat weight of diamonds with the carat used for the purity of gold.

  • Shapes & Finishes

Wedding rings are made in a number of cross-sectional profiles. Some of the more usual ones are:


Wedding Ring Profiles used for gay rings and lesbian rings

"D" - Flat inner surface rising to a dome on the outside
Court - Gentle curved inner and outer faces; the inner court is often referred to as "comfort fit"
Flat Court - combines the comfort of the inner curve with a flat outer profile
"D" Court Flat - combines the comfort of the inner curve with the depth of the dome and a flat outer face
Flat - flat surfaces on both the inner and outer faces

A range of finishes is also used to style wedding rings, usually only on the outer face. These include: highly polished, matte, sandblasted, bark effect and hammered.

  • Finger Size Measurement

Getting the right finger size is really important. Paper, card and tape ring sizers will give you an approximate size. But for accuracy we recommend use of professional ring sizers. This is a set of metal rings in standard and wide widths. These sizers emulate your wedding ring and will give you confidence in the size that you need. For accuracy and convenience we can loan you a partial set of ring sizers (the sizes around your estimated ring size) for use at home. For more details please review our Ring Sizers page.

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