You’ve thought about your class ring – you know what engravings you want, you know which year it’ll say, you might have even thought about which birthstone you’ll have!
But have you thought about the finish itself? Do you know the difference between the Karats and the colors? Or a matte and high polished finish?
The finish can change the entire style of the ring, and it’s an important factor to bear in mind when designing your class ring. This article will walk you through the different gold ring finishes and what they look like. By the end of it, you should have a good idea of exactly which finish you’d like for your ring!
Gold Ring Finishes: What Are They?
Ring finishes are how the final polish and tweaks make the metal of the ring look.
There are several ring finishes to choose from, and each application changes the whole feel and style of the ring.
High Polish Finish
A high polish finish gives a piece of jewelry a beautiful high shine. It’s the most common finish for jewelry made from precious metals. A high shine gives a glittering effect when light reflects off it.
Getting the perfect polish requires time, dedication, and skill from the smith. They file the ring using specialist files and sand it down with various sanding papers. They continue to sand and polish it either by hand or with high-powered tools.
We’re used to seeing polished jewelry – but matte finishes are growing in popularity, especially in men’s jewelry. A gold ring matte finish can really stand out from the crowd.
To get this kind of finish, the jeweler has to use equipment like polishing wheels and aluminum oxide polishing papers. For ridges and fine areas, they may also use a rotary tool, which is a small version of the polishing wheel and spins on a motor at such a fast speed, it buffs the metal.
Some jewelers sandblast their rings instead. They place the gold ring in a sandblaster, which fires sand and aluminum oxide at high pressure and a high velocity. The abrasiveness wears down the surface.
You may sometimes see “satin finish gold ring” or “brush finish gold ring” in descriptions – these are both matte, but with a slight difference. A satin finish is very smooth to the touch; it may actually feel softer than a regular polished finish. A brushed finish is slightly rougher and gives the piece a more rustic feel where you can see a grain in the metal.
Special jewelry hammers used on the metal create the hammered finish. All throughout history, smiths and jewelers have hammered rings and necklaces to create the desired effect. The specific technical terms are “repoussé” and “chasing.”
Around 300BC, the Greek army used the repoussé technique to add detail to their plated armor. The Ancient Greeks were big on flashy shows of elegance and style, even in their battle armor.
Hammered finishes can vary in detail and look. They can create a completely rustic, almost ancient look from before high-powered smiths had access to intricate machinery. The jeweler can also create a polished-but-hammered look with polishing and buffing.
This gives the metal a uniform, cratered look.
All trends are a cycle, and an oxidized finish is no different. While most people are keeping their jewelry safe to prevent oxidization, others are going out of their way to oxidize jewelry.
It gives pieces a vintage, old-timey feel, and when it’s done well by an expert, it can look beautiful. The terminology is actually incorrect because the process of oxidization sees sulfur introduced to the metal, not oxygen – but the name has stuck anyway.
This technique greatly speeds up the natural oxidization process to darken or blacken metal. It’s particularly striking when used with gemstones like diamonds or pearls – it’s perfect for those with lighter-colored birthstones.
A Florentine finish gold ring can look stunning with the right accessories and styling.
It’s a very intricate, subtle cross-hatched design, with parallel lines engraved perpendicular to one another. The final polish will decide whether the engraving is clear and brushed, or more subtle and matte.
You’ll often find florentine finishes on women’s bracelets and rings.
To get a true florentine finish, jewelers beat the gold by hand, usually with a diamond-tipped tool. This leaves the crosshatched design or indents on the surface. Florentine finishes can reduce the reflectivity of gold, but they are eye-catching nonetheless and can still sparkle with the right polishing.
Some jewelry is plated – this sees the gold (or other metal) covered or coated in a thin layer of another metal. The two common plating techniques are electroplating and electroless plating.
In electroplating, electric currents coat an electrically conductive metal with a thin layer of precious metal, like gold. Electroless plating doesn’t use electricity but instead uses chemical reactions to plate one metal onto the top of another.
You may sometimes see “satin finish gold ring.” A satin finish is very smooth to the touch – it may actually feel softer than a regular polish.
Satin finishes are more matte than a regular polished look – they don’t have glossiness or shine, but they still glitter beautifully in the light.
Equipment like brushes, abrasives, or chemicals creates a satin finish by causing uniform scratches across the surface. You can’t see the scratches – a satin finish, to the naked eye, will look like a soft, matte glow.
A brushed finish is a satin-esque finish with a twist. It is matte and looks similar to satin finishes, but the scratches made by the brushes are more clear. You can almost make out the vertical strokes as if they were grain in wood.
Brushed finishes are usually more resistant to everyday wear.
A wirebrushed finish is, unsurprisingly, created using a specialist wire brush. They go a step further than brushed designs to really make the strokes and scratches clear.
They’re rustic, masculine designs that look as though they have years of wear – but it looks completely deliberate and stylish.
On the subject of wire-caused finishes, a wire finish is also matte, but the metal doesn’t look scratched. Instead, it looks as though it’s been beaten and indented with wire over and over again. This gives the ring a 3D feel and an interesting texture.
A wired finish is especially striking when small parts of the gold ring are polished to a high shine to show the contrast.
Diamond Cut Finish
This finish requires a specialist machine. It cuts a uniform diamond pattern around the length of the ring. It’s especially beautiful on silver, platinum, and gold rings because it catches the natural reflectivity of precious metals.
Diamond cut rings are unique and very contemporary, so if you’re looking for something that’s one-of-a-kind, check out diamond cut designs.
There is so much you can do with a ripple finish! They can be subtle or obvious, matte or polished. The ripples look like gentle waves lapping across the band of the ring, and it makes for beautiful, eye-catching pieces.
Because of the nature of the design, there are no two ripple rings the same out there. They’re a great design choice for someone who’s looking for a story behind a piece because like water, this ring can keep you or someone you love ever-moving.
Bark Texture Finish
Using small hammers of varying sizes, jewelers can masterfully recreate the detail and texture of tree bark.
It’s a modern, nature-based alternative to the hammered finish and perfect for the nature lover in your life!
Planished effects use a wider hammer head. This creates flatter edges than the rounder, concave indents a normal hammer finish creates.
Jewelers hammer around the ring in a non-uniform pattern, and it makes for a very rustic look.
The Finish Is as Important as the Metal!
There are four major things to consider when choosing your ring: the metal, the stone, the shape, and the finish.
Whichever gold ring finishes you like, have you considered what your next ring will be? If you or someone you know is graduating from school or college soon, what better way to immortalize such a big event than a ring?
Class rings hold great sentimental value for all who wear one – it’s a show of pride and achievement for both the school and yourself. Come and browse our collection of class rings, and choose your engraving, birthstone and finish!