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 Metals
Precious metals are special. Over millennia they have been prized for their rarity and beauty. They can be worked into complex and stunning forms and, with an intrinsically high lustre, appear magically silky. Our engagement rings and wedding rings are made in a range of grades and colours of gold, in palladium and, in the rarest of all, platinum.

Gold Au the classic precious metal, 9ct 14ct 18ct 22ct, for a wedding ring

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

9ct is 37.5% gold  |  14ct is 58.5% gold  |  18ct is 75% gold  |  22ct is 91.6% gold

We work with gold in six colours: yellow, white, rose, champagne, hint-of-hazel and hint-of-ivory. White gold is created by alloying gold with silver, palladium and small amounts of other metals. The redder colours 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. Hint-of-hazel gold is like white gold with a slight brown tint. Similarly, hint-of-ivory gold is a version of white gold with a slight yellow hue. White gold is not completely white in colour so may be 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.

Platinum 950 Pt the ultimate precious metal for wedding rings

Platinum is an extremely rare noble metal and gives it's name to the Platinum Group Metals. It has a lustrous shiny silvery-white colour, extremely high density and is resistant to corrosion. It has the highest melting point of all the precious metals and is the most expensive. UK assay offices recognise four levels of fineness for Platinum: 850, 900, 950 and 999. That's parts per thousand. In our rings we only use the highest jewellery grade, that's platinum 950. It's the best so we love platinum 950.

Palladium 950 Pd a fine precious metal for your engagement ring

Palladium is a rare and 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. Its popularity increased in the 21st century and, from the 1st January 2010, hallmarking palladium became a legal requirement. Recognised fineness standards are: 500, 950 and 999. That's parts per thousand. Palladium is less dense than platinum so a palladium wedding ring feels lighter than 18ct gold or platinum 950. As a special order we can make your wedding rings and engagement rings in palladium 950.

Colours of gold

Colours of gold

Note: Colours on screen vary enormously - the colours shown on this website, and in any other photographs and images we may provide, are indicative only.

Although rare, it is possible to be allergic to metals. Precious metals are actually alloys combining various types of metal so if you are, or suspect you may be, allergic to any type of metal please contact us before ordering your rings.

Quality Assurance
In accordance with UK law WOOLTON & HEWITT wedding rings, engagement rings, and wedding jewellery are hallmarked by an independent assay office to indicate the grade or fineness of the precious metal. For example, 9ct gold which contains 37.5% gold is marked "375", 18ct gold being 75% gold shows "750", and platinum at 95% purity is given a "950" mark. This testing of the precious metal and making of its fineness is your QUALITY ASSURANCE.

Precious metal purity

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.

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 untrained naked eye nothing will be seen within the stone. However, upon request, we can provide a quotation to upgrade to even greater clarity.

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 shown below.

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.

Ring Size Measurement
Getting the right ring 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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