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Understanding wedding ring metal alloys & allergies

Every now and then we get a customer with allergies asking for details of what their chosen metal alloy will contain. So here’s a little guide to what you might find in the content of the different metals used in our wedding rings:

The platinum 950 and palladium 950 rings we sell are 95% pure, with 5% ruthenium in the mix. Ruthenium is a rare metal from the same atomic group as platinum, and is just as unlikely to react with other chemicals or substances. It is a similar colour as platinum and palladium, so won’t interfere with their beautiful finish, and it serves the purpose of hardening the ring against wear and tear.

18ct white gold contains 75% gold. Because of the high gold content, it is only mixed with white metals such as silver and palladium. There will be small amounts of iridium, another metal from the same atomic group as platinum, which is just as corrosion-resistant and unlikely to cause allergic reactions. They also have a tiny amount of boron, which is non-toxic. 9ct and 14ct white gold will usually contain silver, palladium, zinc and a little bit of copper as well. Many white gold rings are plated with rhodium to hide the yellowish metal underneath – rhodium is very tough and hypo-allergenic.

Yellow gold and rose gold contain much of the same other metals as white gold – usually a mix of silver, copper and zinc. 14ct yellow gold may also contain a small amount of platinum, and 18ct yellow gold will have a bit of iridium in the mix.

The more modern metals such as titanium and zirconium are hypo-allergenic – both will usually be 99.9% pure. A small amount of the titanium rings, e.g. titanium rings tension-set with diamonds, will use grade 5 titanium, which is 90% pure. This contains 6% aluminium and 4% vanadium and is the medical grade used for plates and implants in the body – therefore very unlikely to cause a reaction! Tungsten carbide contains tungsten in a carbide alloy with a trace amount of cobalt. Even with the trace amount of cobalt, they are technically cobalt-free as the quantities are small enough to comply with the EU directives.

Silver is another story. There’s a bit of an urban myth that silver can turn your finger green, but this is not strictly true. Silver is more easily oxidised by the air and other substances, and therefore tarnishes more quickly than gold or platinum. On rare occasions, the metal can react more significantly to moisture or sweat from the finger, and cause a blackening or green effect to form on the skin. Contrary to popular belief, this is not due to substandard metal, but is rather just an unfortunate chemical reaction. We offer our customers a free rhodium plating service for silver rings bought from us if this happens, or can always exchange the items for a different metal. Even if your ring wasn’t bought from us, please don’t blame the poor jeweller – it can happen with a silver ring from Tiffany’s just as easily as for a silver ring from the market!

Just like with anything, please always check with us if you really need to avoid a certain metal for allergy (or religious) reasons. We source our metal from a few different workshops, so the exact content may vary. We are always be happy to check in advance of you placing an order to make sure we can avoid a particular metal in your wedding rings.

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01273 696515

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