Guide to Wedding Ring Metals
This story first appeared in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Columbus Weddings, published December 2018.
In the world of wedding planning, every choice can seem important, but some have longer-term ramifications than others.
“After the flowers are dead, the cake’s eaten, the food’s gone, the liquor’s drunk, the things that you’re left over with are the photos and your rings,” says Gabe Truxall, a diamond buyer at Diamond Cellar.
In other words: If you made the wrong choice of Champagne, the consequences aren’t as dire as regretting your selection of wedding band. But with jewelers offering a multitude of metal options, where does a bride or groom begin?
Kathryn Givens, sales floor supervisor at Worthington Jewelers, says that white-toned metals are still the top pick among most brides. Whether to go with white gold or platinum, however, comes down to how much you want to spend—and when.
White gold is more affordable up front, but it requires investment in the long run.
“To get it that extra bright white that everybody likes, you do have to plate it with a platinum-type metal,” Givens says. To retain the look, the band needs to be rhodium-plated about once a year; Givens says Worthington Jewelers charges about $35, but it can be as high as $100 elsewhere.
Platinum bands, on the other hand, will retain their look without a lot of effort.
“When you scratch platinum, it’s kind of like you swipe your finger through a block of clay—it just shifts the material around,” Truxall says. “When you scratch gold, it’s like chalk on a chalkboard, so it thins out over time.”
But the lack of maintenance translates to a higher price tag at first.
“A 14-karat, white gold ring is going to be less expensive than a platinum ring,” Truxall says. “The tradeoff is that you have maintenance down the road with the gold as it thins out over time.”
If a bride opts for a color other than white for her band, there are attractive alternatives to be found in yellow and rose gold. Neither metal, however, is as strong as white gold; rose gold is the least strong. “They alloy with copper to get it to be that pink color,” Givens says. “It is a little bit softer than the other colors.”
For grooms, Givens notes an increase in popularity in contemporary metals, which lack the luster of gold or platinum. “They’re a little bit more masculine-looking,” she says.
Tungsten carbide is among the darkest options, bearing a gunmetal shade; along with cobalt, it is also among the most durable of the contemporary-metal choices. Palladium works well for a plain band, but it can become brittle with the addition of stones.
And, for those who seek the appearance of white gold or platinum, there is always cobalt—though it tends to be the most expensive alternative option. (Titanium is the least expensive, and because it’s lightweight, it is easy to manipulate.) Then again, Truxall tries to steer grooms back toward gold or platinum anyway—despite the popularity of alternative options.
“I don’t think a guy should wear something that’s a symbol of his commitment and everlasting love that basically is made out of the same material as a tile floor,” Truxall says, referring to tungsten carbide. He adds that the material is brittle enough to shatter upon hitting a hard surface. “Then you’re ending up replacing a ring,” he says.
The wedding’s over, but you still have to go to work, right?
Unfortunately, wedding bands can be scratched, particularly if your hands are in constant use at work. Fear not: Worthington Jewelers carries Qalo, a brand of silicone bands that can stand up to your job.
“It allows you to wear a replacement wedding band while you’re not wearing your nice one,” says Kathryn Givens of Worthington Jewelers, adding that the option is popular among nurses, police officers, firemen and electricians—the latter, she says, “because it doesn’t conduct electricity.”
Widths and finishes vary, though most couples choose bright colors and interesting patterns to contrast with their real rings. Another pro tip for newlyweds: The silicone bands are good to take while on honeymoon, Givens says, if traveling to “somewhere tropical” and snorkeling is involved.