Ring for Occasions

A piece of jewellery can be much more than just an attractive adornment. It can be a form of self-expression, and hold deep sentimental and emotional meaning to the wearer. Rings have always held a particular significance and symbolism. They are usually the most intimate pieces that we wear, signifying the bonding of loved ones and families, or marking important life events and memories.

Engagement Rings - The Promise

The engagement ring is placed on the left ring finger, which is believed in many cultures, to be the finger related to the heart. Traditionally, a man proposed marriage to his future bride, with an engagement ring, which he chose as a surprise for her, a sign of his love and commitment, the promise of life together. Who doesn’t secretly love the idea of this romantic gesture we have watched played out in a myriad of ways in Hollywood movies?

But in reality, these days, many couples choose the engagement ring together. It is a big investment and most people want to make sure their partner is happy; not only about the proposal but also about the ring they will have on their finger every day for years to come.

Some couples want a ring each; particularly in same gender marriage but not only. Many men choose to wear a more elaborate ring than a simple band. It often depends on whether they do manual work, in which case an elaborate ring could be a hazard. A ring which is to be worn every day, has to be a symbol of love, but also practical and wearable.

The engagement ring usually contains a diamond or coloured gemstone, as a central stone. Diamonds, sapphires and rubies are the hardest stones in the gem world and not only a luxury choice but also practical for a ring we want to wear every day. They can withstand the accidental knocks, which might scratch or chip other stones.

Many people choose a ruby or sapphire (sapphires come in all the rainbow colours) for the central stone of their ring and use diamonds as accent stones, on either side or surrounding the middle stone. Princess Diana chose her own blue Ceylon sapphire and diamond engagement ring, which is now lovingly worn by
Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.

If you want a coloured stone and sapphires and rubies are beyond the budget, the choice is rich and vast. 

Wedding Rings

Couples exchange the wedding rings, also called wedding bands, during the wedding ceremony. These are usually chosen together by both partners. Traditionally, they are a simple band of metal, representing the circle of eternity and never-ending love. They can have patterns on the outside and engraving inside. They can have small gemstones set flat into the band but don’t usually contain high set gemstones. The wedding ring is placed at the base of the finger, with the engagement ring against it, closest to the fingertip.

There are no set rules today. Two male partners often incorporate the engagement and wedding ring into one, sometimes choosing a band with gemstones set into it.

Eternity Rings

This is a fine band, made to match the wedding and engagement rings. It is usually set with a continuous row of small diamonds or coloured gemstones, going either all the way around the ring or across the top. This ring is given after a number of years of marriage and symbolises on-going, eternal love.

Love Yourself Rings

For different reasons, many people want to buy themselves a special ring. It could be simply to create something you love for yourself. It could be to remember a loved one passed, or to use Granny’s ring and build something new from the old. Perhaps you want to replace the old engagement ring after separation from a partner who has shared the life journey for a time.

Precious metal jewellery no longer worn can easily be melted down to make something new. We would love to help you create your own ring of love.

Ring Mounts or “Settings”

This is the metal part of a ring. In the United Kingdom, jewellery made of precious metal and over a certain weight, legally has to be marked with a stamp somewhere on the inside, or underside, to prove its quality. This is called Hallmarking. Jewellers have their own individual Hallmark and each region has its generic symbol. Both of these pictorial symbols will be present and also a number indicating the type and grade of metal.

You can find more information on Hallmarks here.

Gold

Gold is the Traditional ring setting for marriage rings. In its natural state, gold is bright golden yellow. It can be polished to a high gloss and does not tarnish in the air and is resistant to most acids. This is why it has been the choice for jewellery and coins since time immemorial and has adorned kings and queens since the beginning of history. There is something about its colour and lustre, which reminds us of the sun. Sun gold from the depths of the earth, is a miracle of nature.

In order to make white and rose gold, other metals (alloys) like copper and silver have to be added. These days, good jewellers would never use cheap metal alloys, like nickel, which can cause allergic skin reactions.

White gold is plated with Rhodium to make it look more silvery white. This is the down side of white gold, that it has to be re-plated every couple of years. This isn’t costly with today’s technology but getting around to it, may be a nuisance.

Gold is the most malleable of ring metals. It can be stretched into such thin wire that 2 km would weigh only one gram and it can be rolled and beaten into gold foil with a thickness of 0.0001 mm.

Because of this malleability, it is usually hardened with tougher metals, such as copper.

Gold generally comes in 9 or 10 carat, 14 carat, 18 carat and 22 carat weights. 24 carat is pure gold, which is too soft for a ring.  The higher the carat number out of 24, the higher the quantity of pure gold in it, so the more expensive it becomes and the more soft.

9ct is the most hardwearing. 22ct is very soft and easily dented, not advisable for most people today who have busy, active lives. At Roseheart, we usually advise putting a valuable stone into 18ct but 14ct is also a fine choice depending on budget.

Platinum

Platinum is popular for engagement rings, as it is a naturally whitish metal and doesn’t need alloys or plating and doesn’t tarnish.

It is also very hard, making it suitable for rings. It has a slightly grey, steely tinge, which not everyone likes. Many people still want the whiteness of white gold.

Platinum used to be more expensive than gold but with the gold price having risen so much in the last few years, platinum is now a less expensive choice. For jewellery, it is usually alloyed with a very small percentage of copper or
palladium, about 4%.

Silver

Silver is a common choice for rings but is also soft and malleable in its pure form, therefore it is mixed with alloys, like copper and palladium to make it a little harder for jewellery.

Silver is rated inparts per thousand. 925 parts silver, is the common standard for jewellery and is known as Sterling Silver, named after the British currency, Pound Sterling. The remaining .75 parts out of 1000 are other metal alloys. It is also possible to get jewellery with 800, 835 and 935 parts of silver per 1000.

Silver tarnishes in the air and needs quite a bit of upkeep with polishing cloth. It is also commonly plated with rhodium today, which doesn’t tarnish and makes the ring easier to care for, until it eventually wears off a bit and needs re-plating. Silver is the cheapest of the precious metals and is a good choice for setting a semi-precious stone. At Roseheart, we also use it for precious stones if the setting is large and we want to keep the price down.

Once it is rhodium plated, there is no way of telling, to the naked eye, whether the setting is made of white gold or silver. Of course, our jewellery is hallmarked to say what the metal is. See section on
Hallmarking.

Palladium and titanium are less common but also used sometimes today for rings.

Combined Metals

Mixed metal rings have become very popular in jewellery design. Combined metals, also known as “multi-metal” or “dual metal” usually consist of two or more distinct, contrasting precious metals. These rings often integrate different colours of gold, as well as silver, platinum and palladium. Combining these different metals together can be a great way to create truly unique and striking aesthetic contrasts in colour and texture.

This technique can also save the expense of solid gold, while still giving the look of the real thing. For instance, a shank, the part that goes around your finger, could be made of sterling silver and the bezel, the part which goes around the gemstone, could be 14ct or 18ct gold.

Gold Plating

Gold plating is a fine layer of gold dust, which has been mixed into a solution with other elements and then fused with an electric current, to a less expensive metal, like silver or copper. Gold plating is a popular choice for decorative jewellery due to its aesthetic appeal, natural finish and low cost.

The gold plate is measured in microns. One micron is the finest layer possible. The number of microns of gold, used in the plating, determines how long the plating will last before wearing off and also the price of the piece.

Other elements in the gold family, such as rhodium and ruthenium are used to obtain white, grey and black tones in plating. Black ruthenium plating is known as black gold.

Gold plating will begin to wear off rings more quickly than earrings or pendants. We offer a re-plating service at cost price.

Central Stones

When choosing a stone there are six points to consider; the kind of stone, the shape of the stone and the Four C’s – cut, carat, clarity and colour.
The Four C’s applies to diamonds and coloured stones.

If you know you want a diamond, the biggest decision is made. For those who want a coloured stone, an important thing to consider is the hardness, because this is a ring you wear every day and the stone has to withstand wear and tear. Jewellers use the Mohs scale, which tests the hardness of stones, by their resistance to scratching. Stones are rated from 1 to 10, 10 being the hardest.

The Mohs Scale with lists of gemstone hardness can be found here.

Precious Stones

The precious stones are diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds.

Both precious and semi-precious gemstones have grown naturally inside the earth and have been dug out by miners. It is essential to get an official gem report when buying an expensive precious stone. This report authenticates the natural quality of the stone.

Semi-Precious Stones

Traditionally, the less valuable, less hard gemstones are called semi-precious. There are however many gorgeous stones, such as amethyst, tanzanite, tourmaline, tzavorite garnet, rhodolite garnet, blue aquamarine, yellow beryl, pink morganite, kunzite and so on, which when found in very high quality, can rival the “precious stones” for beauty and inner radiance.

Imitation

Imitations are man made copies of gemstones. They can look like real stones but don’t have the same chemical make up. They are usually made of coloured glass.

Synthetic

Synthetic Gemstones are man-made, in a laboratory, with chemical components almost identical to the real stones they are made to replace. It can be very hard to tell a synthetic stone from a real one and often needs expert testing, to identify what the stone is, if it doesn’t come from a known source.

There is big business in fake gemstones and many unscrupulous gem dealers try to pass them off as the real thing. One has to be experienced in Gemstone purchasing and have trusted contacts, who can verify the authenticity of their gemstones. It is often not possible to trace the origin of coloured gemstones back to their mines. They are moved around the world in bulk, to various dealers and cutters and soon the path from which they came is forgotten. Therefore dealers will have their stones tested in Gem laboratories.Nowadays, because of the exposure of the cruelty to workers, in African diamond mines, particularly through the movie “Blood
Diamonds” the diamond trade has had to become more conscientious about tracing diamonds to their source. We now have “certified” diamonds, which means they come from a known origin.

Some people who want to make sure their diamonds come from a truly sustainable, reputable source, where miners are fairly treated, choose diamonds from Australia or Canada. These are a lot more expensive than African or Indian diamonds but for people to whomthis is important, it is worth the extra investment.

Zirconia & Zircon

Cubic Zirconia commonly known as “CZ”, is a sparkly white (clear), synthetic stone, originally created in the 1930’s as a replacement for diamonds. They have a hardness of 7.0 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale and can be cheaply mass-produced, making them popular for diamond look- alike jewellery.

Zircon is a natural mineral from the silicate group. Its colour range includes: white (colourless), golden-yellow, red, brown, green, blue
or black. High quality, white zircons are often used in place of diamonds as accent stones but they will be named as zircons. Their Mohs hardness is 6.5 to 7.5, making them suitable gemstones for high quality jewellery. Zircons are often confused with cubic zirconia, the synthetic substitute for diamonds.

Caring for your Jewels

As a jeweler, knowing the road each piece of gemstone jewellery has travelled, through all the stages of its creation; I wince to see a beautiful piece treated with anything but the utmost care and respect. Please, please be aware of how precious and delicate your lovely treasures are and organize proper housing for them. Either keep them in the boxes they came in, or buy jewellery boxes, with separate compartments, which you can store multiple pieces in. And do please have a small jewellery travel box at hand, for trips away.

Wearing your jewellery when cleaning the house, or working in the garden, will put it at risk of being scratched or damaged in some way. At the very least, dirt could get lodged in the little hidden nooks and crannies, which will dull its appearance and necessitate a trip to the jeweler, to have it safely and properly cleaned. When I am cooking or cleaning I take off all my rings except my gold wedding ring, which belonged to my grandmother, and never leaves my hand. I keep little ring boxes in my kitchen to put my rings safely into, when I take them off. Cleaning products and also swimming pools, with harsh chemicals like chlorine, can damage the softer, more porous gemstones, such as pearls and turquoise and they can discolour precious metals. Chemicals contained in perfume, makeup and hair products can eat away at the surface of some gemstones, like pearls, eroding the beautiful glimmering “nacre”, the layers of glowing substance, which forms the pearl. Put your make-up and perfume on first, then your necklace or earrings. Don’t spray yourself with perfume, once your jewels are on. Make your jewellery the last thing you put on before going out and the first thing you take off before applying make-up remover, or getting in the shower at night.

Gemstone jewellery can be cleaned with a little warm soapy water and a toothbrush and that does not mean, immerse them all together in a sink full of water. Clean them gently one at a time by holding the piece in one hand, dipping the toothbrush into some warm, soapy water with the other and giving the piece a gentle scrub. Then rinse off the soap under running water. You can also use water and baking soda with the same method. Clean your pearls and other knotted gemstone beads with a soft, damp cloth. High quality pearl and bead knotting is usually done with silk thread, which should not be immersed in water or worn in the shower and definitely never in a swimming pool. Store each individual piece of jewellery, either in a separate compartment of your jewellery box, or in individual boxes or cloth bags, to avoid scratching and chipping.

If you leave jewellery out of a container for too long, it will accumulate dust, which can cause a greasy smear on the surface and lodge in tiny places. Also, exposure to the air will cause your silver jewellery to tarnish. However, don’t store pearls in an airtight box for too long. Pearls need a little moisture so that they will not dry out. Don’t store pearls in a plastic bag or in cotton wool either,
because plastic and cotton wool can emit a chemical that will damage the surface of pearls.
Keep a small silver cleaning cloth handy, for cleaning tarnish off your silver jewellery. If it gets too discoloured, bring it to us, or any good jeweller, for professional cleaning.