With a custom-made ring, one of the options is choice of metal–gold, palladium, platinum are some common choices. If cost is paramount, silver is an option too. So you have a lot of choices when it comes to metal type.
Gold is the most common metal of choice, and within that category you have a choice of color and karat. For color, you can choose white, yellow, or rose gold. Green gold also exists, by the way. For karat, the choices range from 10K, through 14K, to 18K, or in some cases even 22K. Traditionally yellow gold in either 14K or 18K was the metal of choice for engagement rings, but white gold became a popular choice a few years ago. Now yellow seems to be equally if not more popular than white, but it’s always a personal choice–there is nothing wrong with either color.
Personally, if you want my opinion, I lean toward 18K yellow. There is something basic and timeless about it, and I like that in a wedding ring. The thing about trends is that they come and go, and that’s not what you want for a wedding ring’s symbolism. But finally, the choice is yours to make.
If white is your color choice, then you can have 14K or 18K alloys. An alloy is a mix of metals, so 14K for example has 14 parts out of 24 in pure gold with 11 parts of another metal. The other metal is usually nickel in the standard white gold alloy. One problem with nickel is that some people can develop a skin allergy to it, so it has that potential. Another potential problem with nickel alloy white golds is that sometimes the metal cracks and comes apart, especially if it comes in contact with chlorine a lot, as in swimming pools. Both of these problems are rare issues, but they do exist.
Another issue with white gold alloys is that when they come from a store, they are usually rhodium plated to make them appear bright white in color. This plating is quite thin, and after a few years the plating wears off and shows the underlying color which is not so white. The ring can be replated, but that’s an issue that has to be repeated again and again.
A better choice for a white gold ring is a palladium alloy. Palladium is a precious metal in the platinum group of metals, with characteristics similar to platinum. The alloy comes in 14K or 18K and is a much superior alternative to nickel-based alloys.
Finally, silver is an option for a white wedding ring, especially if there are budget constraints. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with a silver wedding ring per se, but it hasn’t been a traditional choice for a couple reasons. One, it tends to tarnish, and since your ring is a symbol of purity, a ring that tarnishes doesn’t go very well with that idea. Another reason is that silver is not very expensive and can have negative implications from that perspective. I’d say forget about both of those issues if all you want to pay for is a silver ring. Silver is a precious metal and it is the whitest metal of all. Yes, you might say that it “tarnishes,” but I’d say that it acquires a beautiful patina with time. Besides, if you wear it continually, as you would, the ring will clean itself as you wash your hands, shower, etc. I make a very respectable and solid engagement ring in silver, with small diamond, called the Zen Ring starting at $300. You can upgrade that ring to gold if you wish for a very reasonable price.