Metalworks: Choosing a Metal for Your Ring

Jillian Span Hofbauer
Columbus Monthly
Brandon Labardee chose a dark, contemporary metal that complements Christine's more traditional selection in wedding band material.

For a small piece of jewelry, wedding rings carry a great deal of symbolism and meaning, so selecting the right one is a big decision. With various precious and contemporary metals to choose from and considerations such as design, cost and durability, there's a lot to think about when finding the perfect ring to suit your lifestyle. To help you understand the basics, we talked to local experts on some of the pros and cons of popular ring metals and materials.

Knowing the differences between precious metals and contemporary metals is a good place to start. Precious metals, such as gold and platinum, are those mined from the ground and refined. A classic choice for both women and men, these metals offer a greater ability for customization, says Kathryn Givens, sales floor supervisor at Worthington Jewelers.

“Precious metals are great because we can size, refinish and engrave them,” she says, adding that 14 karat gold in any color, such as yellow, white or rose, is typically the most popular choice for wedding rings. “It's the best strength to hold diamonds in place and for general everyday wear and tear.”

But for those looking for something sturdier, she suggests platinum because of its durability. Platinum, the most pure of the precious metals, is lustrous, long-lasting and hypoallergenic. However, it often comes with a higher price tag and requires more polishing over time due to its patina finish, says Givens.

On the other hand, contemporary metals and materials—such as tungsten carbide, cobalt steel, titanium and stainless steel—have become popular alternatives for men's bands for their affordability and style variety.

“Guys are kind of mixing it up,” says Daniel Gordon, store director at the Diamond Cellar. Tungsten is a popular choice for its hardness, color diversity, scratch resistance and affordability. However, it is not sizable and can crack or break if it is hit or dropped the wrong way, he notes. Another option is cobalt steel, which is cost-effective and durable, particularly in active environments, but it is not sizable and can show signs of wear and tear.

With so many possibilities, there are no norms anymore when it comes to wedding jewelry, Givens says. Choosing comes down to look, lifestyle and comfort level.

“At the end of the day, what matters is that you absolutely love the ring you choose,” says Gordon.