What Metal Should I Choose for my Wedding Band?

How times change. Twenty years ago, selecting a wedding band for a man was a simple choice. You could have gold (white or yellow), and maybe choose a pattern and some diamonds.  Today, however, is another story all together.  Tungsten, cobalt chrome, platinum, titanium and palladium have been added into the mix.  So, how do I pick the metal that is right for me, you might ask?  It's not as hard as you might think.  An examination of the properties and pricing of the metals should clear up, or at the very least, narrow your choices down a bit.

There are two basic groupings of the metals; precious and alternative.  Precious refers to valuable metals such as gold, platinum and palladium.  Alternative is everything else.  That was easy, right?  Now for the slightly harder part: looking at what each of these metals has to offer.  We will start with the precious metals.

Gold

 

rwbd3070_1_1Whether in yellow, white or rose color, gold has been the standard for a long time.  Gold is the most malleable metal in this list and is typically alloyed out to help curb wear and reduce its tendency to shape while being worn.  You can tell how pure the gold is by the karat stamp on the inside of the ring.  Usually, rings are offered in the United States in 10k, 14k or 18k.  Each of these values is really a percentage of gold to alloy, with 10k being the lowest, to 18k being the highest.  Usually, 14k (58.5% pure) is the best balance, giving good wear and a rich color.  Gold is a great choice for those who love a warm, rich tone.

Palladium

Palladium is a member of the platinum family and is a white lustrous metal.  Unlike white gold, which will show a tint of yellow over time, palladium is naturally white like platinum.  Although it shares the look and family tree with platinum, palladium actually wears more like gold and its price is much less.  This allows you to have the rich look of platinum at a more affordable price.  Palladium is great for those with a desire for platinum but do not want to compromise the diamond for their ring budget.


Platinum

 

rwb6p0271_1Platinum is the queen of all precious metals.  Pure, rare and eternal, platinum will outlast and is more durable than any other precious metal.  Used 90-95% pure, platinum is alloyed out for exactly the opposite reason that gold is alloyed for.  Platinum resists moving and having its shape changed, so alloy is added to make the metal more user friendly.  This characteristic translates directly to longevity for you.  Platinum is perfect for making your special moment last forever and is great for wedding sets and engagement rings.

So, now that we know what the precious metals are, let's look at the most popular alternative metals.

Titanium

Titanium is a lightweight, gray (sometimes black), highly durable metal.  Known for years for its application in aeronautics and space craft, it has only recently been used in rings. Titanium can withstand plenty of punishment.  It will scratch, however it is very flexible and difficult to break.  This ring is liked by mechanics and carpenters for its lightweight feel and its exceptional durability.

Cobalt Chrome

Cobalt chrome is an alloy of cobalt and chromium.  Unlike titanium, this metal is white in color and has more scratch resistance.  It is slightly more dense, yet still has a lightweight feel to it. It also sacrifices some of the flexibility of titanium.  This is a great alloy for those who wish to match their fiancé's wedding ring while still keeping the ring as light as possible.  This ring is usually purchased by mechanics, carpenters and machinists.

Tungsten Carbide

 

rwbf1895_1Tungsten carbide is by far the most popular of the alternative metals.  It is available in black, gray and even white.  It is the most scratch resistant of all the alternative metals and the least flexible.  Blows can break the ring. In fact, should you ever have to remove it in an emergency, it is broken off.  It is also the heaviest of the three metals, easily distinguishable by its heft from the other two.  It is not scratch proof, but it is an 8-9 on the Moh's scale of hardness, so little can actually scratch it.  This ring is a favorite for mechanics and carpenters as well as people who work hard with their hands.

One thing all the alternatives have in common is that they cannot truly be sized or repaired if something does happen to them.  The manufacturers are aware of this and do have exchange programs in place to service the rings.

man-wearing-wedding-ring

 

So, how do you pick a ring?  Let's start with the first question I always ask of a guest:  Are you sentimental?  It is important to first understand that all the precious metals are generally able to be sized with some exceptions.  This means you will always have the ring you were married with on your finger.  Alternative metals, however, rarely get worked on.  They are regularly replaced with a new ring.

Next question:  What do you do for work?  Precious metal rings WILL hold up in most work environments as far as durability goes.  They will tend to scratch more readily and require more frequent polishing than the alternatives (which may require no polish in the case of tungsten).  Also, patterns will wear more quickly on the precious metals.  So can a mechanic wear a gold band?  Absolutely!  If he would like gold, he would be best advised to go with a simple heavy band without a pattern.  This ring can give him years of wear and comfort.  This same mechanic may opt for a titanium/cobalt/tungsten band for work and a patterned precious metal band for outside of work as the alternatives are affordably priced for any budget.

Finally, are you traditional or trendy?  Believe it or not, tradition does play a part in your band selection.  There is nothing like wearing the same materials and sometimes similar styles to those your parents wore.  It connects you to your family and family traditions in a very personal way that you cannot put into words.  Trendy guests tend to lean to the alternative metals, as their styles are unique and a little more cutting edge.  Some styles, such as camouflage patterns are not even going to be found in anything but the alternative metals.

No matter what you decide, the band should reflect who you are and represent the union of two hearts.  So ultimately, pick the wedding ring that speaks to you...Read more about Tips for Finding the Perfect Wedding Band -- Men's Edition.

 

Blogger:

MarkPoulinMark, Store Manager,
Day's Jewelers Auburn

Mark's favorite part about his job is customer service, he loves working with customers and teaching them about jewelry. He provides his customers with all the information they need to make an informed decision about their jewelry purchases. He has a wealth of knowledge and is always willing to answer questions. Read morehttp://www.daysjewelers.com/about-us/our-stores/auburn-me/our-staff/mark...

 

 

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