If you have your heart set on gold wedding bands, you've got several key decisions to make. The first one is about color. Most people choose between yellow and white gold wedding bands.
Yellow gold wedding bands continues to be more popular than white gold wedding bands, which I find surprising … I will open share that I like white gold better than yellow gold … in my mind, it has a more contemporary look. The difference in color between yellow and white gold is determined by the metals used in the alloy mix. Yellow gold is made by combining pure gold with alloy metals such as copper and zinc. White gold is comprised of an alloy of gold and some white metals such as silver and palladium. White gold rings are typically coated with another white metal called rhodium. Rhodium is a metal very similar to platinum and has many platinum properties.
The rhodium plating is used to make the white gold look more white. Unfortunately, the rhodium does wear away eventually. This is a definite down-side to white gold rings – and for those of us who like our possessions to be low maintenance. To keep a white gold ring looking like new, it should be re-plated approximately every year to year and a half. However, most local jewelers are able to rhodium plate jewelry for a relatively low price. Now, that I've had my white-gold engagement ring and wedding band for over a year, it really is time for me to seek out a local jeweler to get the rings re-plated.
When comparing the price of the gold colors in the same carat, white gold is usually a little more expensive than yellow gold If you can not make your mind between yellow gold or gold, do not sweat it. You can get a two-tone ring that combines both metals.
The next major decision you must make is the number of karats in the gold wedding bands. So what the heck do karats measure? Pure gold has 24 karats and is the measurement unit in which gold purity is evaluated. Unfortunately, you can not purchase a wedding band made of 24 karats as gold at this level is not strong enough to be used for jewelry. Allloys must be added in order to make gold strong enough to be worn around your ring finger. Typically, you must choose between 14 K gold and 18 K gold. 14 K gold is approximately 58% pure gold (you can do the math … 14 K divided by 24 K) 18 K gold is approximately 75% pure gold (18 K divided by 24 K). So what is the difference? 18 K yellow gold has a certain deeper yellow color although it can not necessarily be distinguished from 14 K by the naked eye. 14 K white gold and 18 K white gold have a similar white color (as usually both have a rhodium plating finish). As it is more pure, 18K is slightly softer than 14 K …. This may be something to consider if you do a lot of physical work with your hands. Also, another interesting factoid is that 14 K is typically more popular than 18 K gold wedding bands amongst consumers in the US