Choosing the right wedding band can be challenging for most men. The thing is, a wedding ring does not only bind the groom and bride together in matrimony, but it can also be a piece of functional jewelry to wear anywhere. So, keep in mind to find something that goes well with your personality and lifestyle. This is especially true if you are not partial to anything made of gold. Having said this, there are many types of wedding rings that you can choose from aside from those made from gold. Below are alternative metals used in crafting wedding rings.
Rated as an extremely strong and hard metal by the Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness, Tungsten is an excellent choice for a man’s wedding band because of its durability and resistance to scratching. It is resistant to tarnish and corrosion and retains its shine without the need for plating. It does not bend unlike other types of wedding band metals, but it does break when met with extreme force. This may sound like a deal breaker; however, there are men who do prefer this quality in a ring especially those who work with heavy machinery. Due to its resistance to getting bent, it is a favorite among men who loves to work with their hands, go kayaking, or even enjoy woodworking as well as grappling those barbells in the gym.
Getting to Know the Tungsten Carbide Alloy
Tungsten wedding rings are made from equal parts Carbon and Tungsten to create an alloy known as Tungsten carbide. Jewelry grade ones are mixed with a binder. Nickel is the preferred binder since it binds tightly in the alloy metal resulting in lower allergy risk—in comparison to gold metals alloyed with nickel. In the market, Tungsten carbide is also sold mixed with cobalt. This is not a recommended option as the natural oils of the hand does react to cobalt which may result in allergic reactions as well as ring discoloration.
Tungsten carbide rings are heavy, it is even a tad heavier than 14-carat gold. It does have moderate electrical and heat conductive property. So, if this is an issue, you might want to take off your ring when working or opt for stainless steel or wooden wedding ring.
The cost of Tungsten carbide rings in the market can vary. It can go as low as $20 to as high as $500. Apparently, the cost depends on the quality of the ring. The higher the quality of material and workmanship, the higher the price is, which also generally means it is a high-quality tungsten carbide ring. Price can go beyond $500 with the inclusion of precious and semi-precious stones.
Wedding bands made from Tungsten normally have a light gray hue. It does come in a darker gray color which has undergone a process called brush finishing. Sleek black tungsten carbide men’s wedding ring is also possible by coating the ring in black titanium coating. While the black coating is not as scratch resistant as the metal underneath, it can be re-plated again and again to make it look shiny and new—provided that the black tungsten carbide ring does not have stone settings. It is recommended that if you want a two-toned tungsten ring, go for colorful inlays instead of plated colors, as these colors will wear away with daily use.
And because of its hardness and low malleability property, it cannot be resized, and design options are limited in comparison to gold and silver men’s jewelry. The good news is, men’s tungsten carbide ring designs come in sophisticated, sleek, and modern looks. Commonly, they come as flat bands and comfort ring with beveled edges. The former is exactly what it says—a band without any curves and only has straight edges on the ring. A very unassuming and simplistic structure. The latter’s beveled edges add an interesting amount of detail an otherwise simple design.
Personalization with words, phrases, names, and monogram are made possible through laser engraving. With state-of-the-art technology, pictures and designs can be added to your tungsten carbide ring—creating endless possibilities to add a touch of personality to your wedding ring.
Left to Right: 1, 2, & 3 are laser engraved tungsten carbide men’s ring. 4 – Spinner tungsten carbide men’s ring
Only gemstones with a Moh’s hardness scale of 9.0 is appropriate with tungsten carbide as less hard gemstones may crack in the setting. This means diamonds, moissanite, rubies, and sapphires are your best bet when it comes to a tungsten carbide ring.
Don’t have money to burn? You can still add fun and personality to your tungsten carbide men’s wedding ring for a fraction of the price that precious stones can offer. Choose from a wide variety of inlay options from Jurassic era rocks, wood, ceramic, meteorite, and other exotic and exciting materials to create a layered, historical, storied, and textured depth to the ring. Spinner tungsten carbide rings are also unique and fun mobile rings where the center inlay can move and spin to show off a different design or view of the ring.
And lastly, even if tungsten carbide men’s ring is highly durable, in cases of emergency it can be cut off with regular ring cutting tools that EMT people carry with them.
This particular metal was heavily used in the field of aeronautics because it is lightweight yet strong and durable. Known for its durability and shine, titanium is fast becoming an alternative metal option for men’s wedding rings. In fact, it has a density of 281 in contrast to tungsten’s 1198 pound per cubic feet. It is perfect for men who are not accustomed to wearing jewelry because of its lightweight feel; hence providing more comfort than other alternative wedding rings.
Getting to Know the Titanium Alloy
The metallic property of titanium can be changed and enhanced by mixing it with other metals. When it comes to jewelry or men’s wedding bands, go for Commercially Pure or CP titanium as opposed to aircraft grade titanium rings. The latter is primarily composed of 90% titanium, 4% vanadium, and 6% aluminum to increase the metal’s strength. This type of metal ring is so strong that in emergency cases, regular ring cutting tools are rendered useless. While CP titanium is made up of 99% titanium.
CP titanium is also divided into 4 grades. Where grade 4 is the hardest and grade 1 is the softest. And when it comes to a man’s wedding ring, grades 2 to 4 are the most recommended for use. It can be resized, depending on the design as there are titanium ring designs that cannot be resized. Laser and regular engraving tools are used to add details to the ring for personalization or as a design model.
Titanium men’s rings have several wonderful properties that make it a popular choice. One, it is not a good conductor of electricity and heat, so if you work with these elements often then you have no need to fret about your ring putting you in danger. Two, it is tarnish resistant even when frequently exposed to saltwater. Three, it is cobalt-free and is therefore hypoallergenic. And most of all, its durability against lifelong wear and tear is highly commendable. Further, it does not bend under pressure just like tungsten carbide.
Titanium rings are pretty affordable, depending on the design that you prefer. Simple titanium rings can start for as low as $20 and go up to a hundred dollars. High-end designer brands can fetch a hefty tag of a thousand dollars and up; while varying designs and use of gemstones can be had between $100 to $1,000 or more.
Titanium normally comes in a shiny silver-like metallic appearance. In contrast, its hue is a little bit darker than white gold, platinum, chrome, or cobalt—but it is whiter than tungsten. Titanium rings also come in black. There are plated black titanium wedding bands where the color will eventually wear away and chip. While the true black or real black titanium ring is black through and through. This is achieved by treating the entire titanium metal which makes it difficult to find as they are only available in limited quantities.
Another great thing about men’s titanium wedding bands is that they come in a wide variety of designs to choose from. It comes in various ring shapes such as the classic ring shape that features a rounded interior to match the exterior, creating an almost-rounded structure, makes it very comfortable to wear. This is the most common shape option for a matching his and hers wedding ring. Men’s titanium rings also come in a dome shape which is also called the D-shape structure. A domed wedding band provides a rounded appearance on both the surface and edges of the ring. This adds more volume, aesthetically, while also providing pure comfort to the wearer. Concave is another ring shape option; concave has a band surface that is curved inward in the middle creating an interestingly opposite shape of the dome structure. And just like with the tungsten carbide rings, it does come in a flat ring shape.
Just like with tungsten carbide, you can play with the finishing of your titanium ring. A hammered finish gives your titanium ring a more textured look. Brushed finished tones down the glitz of titanium giving it a mattifying finish. A polished finish makes your wedding ring sleek and shiny. For a more toned-down glitter, men’s titanium rings also come in a satin finish that provides a smooth and shiny look but does not reflect light.
Inlays are another wide variety of option to spruce up a man’s titanium wedding band. Inlays are essentially embedded pieces of wood, stone, or metals within the titanium ring flush with its surface creating a linear design or paneling. When it comes to choosing an inlay that would last as long as your titanium ring, choose a solid strip of metal, carbon fiber, exotic wood, or other unique pieces like animal horns and leather. Don’t go for plated inlays—or anything plated for that matter as these will fade and chip over time. When choosing metal inlays, remember that silver or gold is not as durable as titanium which means that these rings would need to be buffed often as scratches may occur hence dulling the shine of the ring.
A titanium ring can also be adorned with any type of stone whether precious or semi-precious options can include turquoise, opal, topaz, dinosaur bone, petrified wood, and so much more. There are also carved and patterned titanium rings that come in various designs like webbed, basket weave, leaves, and chains to name a few.
When it comes to ring widths, a good rule of thumb is 8 to 10-mm rings are best for men with huge hands. For the average-sized male, a 6 to 8-mm ring would suffice. Ring widths of 4 to 6-mm are best left for women. This is true for all types of alternative metal used whether tungsten carbide, titanium, or ceramic men’s rings.
A ceramic wedding ring is a lesser-known alternative metal for men’s wedding ring. However, ceramic has long been used in history to make jewelry. Ceramic is especially known for vases, pots, and other ornamental pieces. It did play a popular role in jewelry making during the Victorian era for painted ceramic plaques.
Getting to Know Ceramic
The ceramic metal used in modern ring making mixes titanium and carbon, resulting in an alloy known as titanium carbide. This is what ceramic rings are commonly made of which creates a more versatile metal alloy that marries the good qualities of both tungsten carbide and titanium. Unlike tungsten carbide, it is crack resistant. And just like titanium, it is lightweight and scratch resistant. And due to its high melting point, men’s ceramic rings cannot be easily bent out of shape and is hypoallergenic, just like titanium rings.
The best thing about men’s ceramic rings is that it is affordably priced while considering all its features. Men’s ceramic rings with designs like camo and leopard print inlays to name a few starts as low as $50. Men’s ceramic wedding rings with diamonds and dinosaur bone inlays can be had for only $500 in comparison to tungsten carbide and titanium men’s wedding rings with the same designs can go up to a whopping $1,000 or more.
It seems that ceramic rings, in general, can come in different colors, but for men’s wedding bands the most popular options are white and black. Yes, ceramic men’s ring can come in an off-white color making it striking and unique. It also comes in black. What sets black ceramic wedding band apart from the competition is that it is black through and through and not plated. Black ceramic men’s ring will have a slightly gray look to it while a black tungsten carbide men’s ring will look blacker. The reason is, titanium carbide is more reflective than tungsten carbide hence the discrepancy in hue. Further, black ceramic men’s ring is more available and hence more affordable than a true black titanium carbide men’s wedding ring.
Ceramic is at 7.0 while titanium is at 6.0 and tungsten carbide is at 9.0 in the Moh’s hardness scale. This gives ceramic more design options than tungsten carbide, but a little less malleability than titanium rings—meaning fewer design options than titanium. This can be seen in the intricacies of the designs when it comes to carving and patterns.
Left to right: 1 - Carbon fiber & emerald inlay tungsten carbide men’s ring; 2- Ivory domed ceramic ring; 3 - Dinosaur bone inlay in black ceramic men’s ring; 4 – Flat, brushed finished, ceramic rings
Just like its counterpart, titanium wedding rings and tungsten wedding rings, ceramic men’s wedding rings offer the same design options such as flat, domed, concave, beveled, and classic ring shapes. When it comes to finish, choices can range from polished, brushed, and faceted. A faceted look mimics the facets of a diamond, somewhat similar to a hammered look. When it comes to inlay options, all three metals have similar choices ranging from opal inlay, deer antler, mother of pearl and many others.