High precious metal prices and increased market volatility have led manufacturers to begin production of wedding rings from less expensive metals. These alternative metals are becoming more popular.
If you are considering purchasing an alternative metal wedding ring, make sure it can be resized. Most peoples’ fingers change in size throughout their lifetimes. A wedding ring that does not fit is never a good value.
Silver is the whitest of the jewelry metals and holds the most brilliant luster when polished. While rings that are worn regularly rarely tarnish, they do lose their luster. The copper in sterling makes silver rings slightly less comfortable than gold, and some people with sensitive skin have difficulty wearing sterling silver jewelry.
While I love silver jewelry, I do not recommend silver for my wedding ring workshops unless you want silver for a very specific reason. The silver for a pair of wedding rings will cost less than $30, and it doesn’t make sense to pay the cost of a workshop for rings of such low value.
However, for shoppers on a budget, silver offers one of the best mixes of beauty and low cost of any metals available. While silver costs much more per ounce than titanium, steel, chrome, zirconium, or tungsten, finished silver wedding rings tend to be less expensive due to the abundance of silver jewelry manufacturers worldwide.
While I do not sell handmade silver wedding rings, they offer an excellent value for those on a strict budget.
Damascus steel is made from multiple fused layers of different grades of steel. These layers can be twisted and formed much like mokume gane to create fascinating patterns in the surface of the metal. Originally developed to utilize the advantages of multiple alloys of steel to create superior weapons, damascus is used only ornamentally today.
While the raw materials in Damascus steel wedding rings cost far less than the precious metals in mokume gane, there is still a great deal of labor that goes into making a ring through this process. Expect damascus wedding rings to cost much less than mokume rings, yet significantly more than stainless steel wedding rings.
Owners of damascus wedding rings can prevent rust by wearing their rings regularly. The oils from your skin will serve as a protective barrier for a lifetime of use. However, a damascus ring should be treated if unworn to prevent rust.
Damascus is much more difficult to resize than precious metal, but it can be resized.
I occasionally get inquires about making titanium wedding rings. Titanium is not very malleable, so wedding rings in titanium are usually machined, requiring less hands-on workmanship.
I do not recommend titanium wedding rings because they cannot be resized. However, if you are not sentimental about wedding rings, they are so affordable that you can buy a new one if your size changes.
Many people have the misconception that titanium is the hardest, most durable metal. While titanium is extremely durable for its weight, it is softer than steel and scratches. Titanium rings CAN be easily cut and removed in the event of an emergency.
I do not offer titanium wedding ring workshops. You should be able to buy manufactured titanium wedding rings for as little as $15.
Tungsten carbide wedding rings have been growing in popularity. They are promoted as virtually indestructible, highly scratch resistant, and they will last forever – like your relationship.
I do not recommend tungsten wedding rings because they cannot be resized. However, if you are not sentimental about wedding rings, they are so affordable that you can buy a new one if your size changes.
Occasionally, people have accidents that cause their fingers to swell. Tungsten carbide is harder than the steel cutters that most hospital emergency rooms use to remove rings from swollen fingers. Not all ER doctors know how to remove a tungsten ring.
I have read claims that you can lose your finger if a tungsten ring gets stuck on your finger in an accident. This is 100% fear-marketing bullshit. You will be just fine, as long as you educate yourself on safe removal in the event of an accident. **It is your responsibility to be able to remove your tungsten carbide ring in an emergency, since not all doctors know how. Look for safe removal instructions on You Tube.
I do not sell tungsten rings, but you should be able to buy manufactured tungsten wedding rings for as little as $20.
Stainless Steel’s low price compared to precious metal has spurred an increase in popularity.
I do not recommend stainless steel wedding rings because they are difficult to resize. However, if you are not sentimental about wedding rings, they are so affordable that you can buy a new one if your size changes.
Stainless steel can be hand-formed and, as a result, many independent artists offer beautiful stainless steel rings. While I don’t recommend them for wedding rings, you will find much cooler design options in steel than in titanium or tungsten.
Like gold, there are many different alloys of stainless steel. A responsible artist will know which alloy they are selling. You should not buy stainless steel wedding rings if you cannot identify the alloy they are created from.
I have been seeing more ceramic watches and rings for sale lately. They are made from a lightweight, hard ceramic that is extremely scratch resistant. I am very pleased with my black ceramic ring with a fiberglass inlay.
I do not recommend ceramic wedding rings because they cannot be resized. However, if you are not sentimental about wedding rings, they are so affordable that you can buy a new one if your size changes.
I do recommend ceramic as a wedding ring for electricians, as ceramic is non-conductive. However, one should generally not wear jewelry at all while using power tools, and many electricians simply remove their rings while at work.
Occasionally, people have accidents that cause their fingers to swell. Ceramic, like tungsten carbide, is harder than the steel cutters that most hospital emergency rooms use to remove rings from swollen fingers. Not all ER doctors know how to remove a ceramic ring.
If you buy a ceramic wedding ring, make sure to educate yourself on safe removal in the event of an accident.
Cobalt Chrome is one of the newest additions to men’s wedding ring metal alternatives. Harder than gold, platinum, and titanium, cobalt wedding rings are very light weight for their strength.
I do not recommend cobalt wedding rings because they cannot be resized. However, if you are not sentimental about wedding rings, they are so affordable that you can buy a new one if your size changes.
Cobalt is a white metal with a similar hue to stainless steel, but lighter in weight. Cobalt chrome is used mostly in medical implants as well as turbine engines, it is hypoallergenic and durable, but far lighter and more malleable than a tungsten wedding ring.
Zirconium is a transition metal element that is used mostly for its heat-resistant properties. It is used in the creation of many hard white ceramics, crucibles for high-temperature melting, as well as in nuclear reactors. I occasionally use zirconium oxide paint to line my melting crucibles. However, zirconium is rarely used industrially in its metal form.
Zirconium is harder than gold and platinum but not as strong as steel. If heated properly, zirconium will develop a hard, scratch-resistant black oxide layer, hence one will often see black zirconium wedding rings for sale.
I do not recommend zirconium wedding rings because they cannot be resized. However, if you are not sentimental about wedding rings, they are so affordable that you can buy a new one if your size changes.
I cannot talk about zirconium as an alternative wedding ring metal without clarifying some public misconceptions:
Zirconium is an element (Zr) most widely known to the public in the form of Cubic Zirconia (ZrO2), or CZ, the most commonly used diamond substitute.
Zircon, is a natural gemstone with the chemical formula ZrSiO4. Large crystals of good color and high clarity are rare, beautiful, and rather expensive.
Zirconium, (Zr) is found in rocks all over the earth, including stones such as granite and sand in certain parts of the world.
Wood rings have been touted lately as an eco-friendly alternative to gold rings.
I do not recommend wood wedding rings because they cannot be resized.
Wood wedding rings have a reputation for splitting. Tiffany offered the Frank Gehry Torque Ring in wood, but discontinued it because of the number of complaints and returns. It’s too bad, because I really wanted one of those torque rings in ebony.
While I don’t recommend wood wedding rings, I will sell them. This is because my brother-in-law really wanted a wood wedding ring, and I wasn’t about to tell my sister that he couldn’t have one. They made a platinum ring with a West African Etimoe Crema wood liner. He is currently product testing the durability.
I also made myself an ebony ring, which held up very well for about a month before I lost it. Oh well.