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While choosing the right wedding ring is usually easier than choosing the right engagement ring, there are still several important decisions that you’ll need to make.
One of these is the type of metal you choose for you and your partner’s wedding rings. Wedding bands are available in a wide range of different metals, each with their own key advantages and disadvantages.
These include yellow, white and rose gold in different karatages, as well as precious metals like palladium and platinum. Some wedding bands are also available in alternative metals, such as titanium and tungsten carbide.
Below, we’ve shared our expert tips and advice to help you choose the best metal for you and your partner’s wedding bands. This advice can also be applied to your choice of metal for your fiancé-to-be’s engagement ring, as well as other jewelry.
It also applies to both men and women, meaning you can use the same approach to buy rings for either gender.
Before we get into the specific metals used for wedding rings, it’s important to be aware of you and your partner’s needs and priorities from a ring.
For example, the different metals used for wedding rings can vary hugely in terms of durability, with some metals soft, delicate and easy to scratch, while others are hardy, durable and highly resistant to damage.
Wedding ring metals can also vary hugely in appearance, with some offering a warm look that matches certain skin tones and others offering a cooler look that suits a different range of skin tones.
Beyond this, there’s the importance of matching the engagement ring and wedding band. If your fiancé-to-be already has an engagement ring, you’ll want to make sure that her wedding band is made from the same metal.
Finally, there’s the pricing aspect. Some metals are more expensive than others, meaning you may want to prioritize metals that offer better value for money if you have a limited budget for your wedding bands.
Knowing what you need, as well as which metal is best suited for you and your partner’s skin tones, can help you choose the most suitable metal for your wedding rings.
If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, don’t worry. We’ve covered all of these factors in lots of detail below, including our expert tips on which metals are best suited for specific lifestyles, skin tones and more.
There’s no “best” metal for every wedding ring. Instead, each of the metals commonly used for wedding bands and engagement rings offers its own range of advantages and disadvantages, from color and other aesthetic qualities to durability and value for money.
Below, we’ve looked at the nine metals most commonly used for wedding rings. Many of these metals (the first five, in particular) are also used to make engagement rings, meaning you can also use this advice to choose the right metal for your fiancé-to-be’s engagement ring.
Gold has traditionally been the most popular metal for engagement rings and wedding bands, with a history of use dating back to Ancient Greece and Rome.
Several different types of gold are used in wedding bands and engagement rings, with yellow gold the most traditional. Other popular types of gold used for engagement rings and wedding bands include white gold and rose gold, which we’ve looked at below.
Even today, several millennia after it first came into use, yellow gold is one of the most popular women’s and men’s wedding band metals.
Contrary to popular belief, wedding bands, engagement rings and other jewelry aren’t made out of pure gold. Instead, all of the gold used for wedding bands and engagement rings is combined with other metals to create an alloy.
Yellow gold is made using a combination of pure gold, copper and zinc. Depending on the pure gold content of the alloy, the gold used for the wedding band will be 14K gold (58.3% pure gold) or 18K gold (75% pure gold).
Let’s start by looking at the advantages and disadvantages of yellow gold wedding bands as a whole. After that, we’ll cover the differences between 14K and 18K gold.
As we mentioned above, yellow gold is historically the most popular metal for wedding rings. It’s a safe, traditional choice as a women’s or men’s wedding band metal, with a timeless color that will never go out of style.
If you’re looking for a versatile wedding ring metal that anyone can wear, a yellow gold wedding ring is one of the best choices. Yellow gold is also the easiest type of gold to maintain, making it a good choice if you want your wedding band or engagement ring to be low maintenance.
Yellow gold wedding bands can be worn by anyone, but look particularly good next to olive and darker skin tones.
The biggest disadvantages of yellow gold as a wedding ring metal are its durability and its need for occasional maintenance.
While yellow gold is generally a low maintenance metal, it needs to be polished and cleaned to maintain its shine. Like all types of gold, it’s also quite an easy metal to scratch, especially if it’s brushed against a hard surface.
In terms of price, yellow gold is quite an affordable metal, with prices for 14K yellow gold some of the most affordable of any women’s or men’s wedding band material.
For example, this 14K yellow gold low dome wedding ring from James Allen is only $430, while this 18K yellow gold wedding ring in the same style is only $690.
Like other types of gold, yellow gold is often sold in either 14K or 18K karatages. These refer to the purity level of the gold, with 14K yellow gold made up of 58.3% pure gold and 18K gold made up of 75% pure gold.
The two biggest, most significant differences between 14K and 18K yellow gold are each metal’s color and durability.
Because 18K gold has a higher gold content, it has a richer, warmer color than 14K gold. It’s also less durable, meaning it’s easier to scratch and dent. We’ve explained these differences in more detail in our 14K vs. 18K gold comparison guide.
White gold, which is made from a combination of pure gold and metals such as nickel, silver and palladium, has a gorgeous shine and an elegant white color.
Historically, yellow gold has been a more popular metal for women’s and men’s wedding bands than white gold. However, white gold has become much more popular over the last decade and is currently the most popular type of gold for engagement rings and wedding bands.
Like yellow gold, white gold comes in a variety of purity levels (karatages), with 14K and 18K the most common.
The biggest advantages of white gold are its gorgeous white color, which complements fair and rosy skin tones, as well as its stylish, modern appearance. White gold is also alloyed with a mix of stronger metals than yellow gold, giving it slightly better durability.
White gold is also very affordable, especially at the 14K purity level. For example, this beautiful 2mm 14K white gold wedding ring is only $150, while this 4mm wedding ring suitable for men or women is only $490.
The color of white gold looks particularly beautiful alongside white, colorless diamonds, making it a good choice for diamond engagement rings. However, you should be aware that white gold engagement ring settings can emphasize the yellow tint of a diamond with a low color grade.
The biggest disadvantage of white gold is that it needs to be dipped every few years to maintain its rhodium coating, which provides its color and luster. However, this is typically an inexpensive, simple service that can be performed by any experienced jeweler.
White gold also often contains nickel, which means it may cause metal allergies in some people (this is most common with 14K white gold).
Rose gold, which is made from pure gold combined with copper and silver, has a gorgeous pink, red and rose color that’s totally unique. Many people consider rose gold to be the most romantic wedding ring metal thanks to its warm, romantic pink hue.
Like yellow and white gold, rose gold is available in several purity levels (karatages). The most common are 14K and 18K.
The biggest advantages of rose gold are its beautiful pink-red color, its relatively high durability, and its affordability.
Because rose gold is made using copper, it’s typically stronger than yellow or white gold. This makes it a good option if you’re looking for a women’s or men’s wedding ring metal that offers reasonable wear and scratch resistance, especially in 14K.
With this said, rose gold is still a type of gold, meaning it won’t be as strong as metals that are harder and less malleable.
Because rose gold has a relatively high copper content, it’s also quite affordable. For example, this 2.5mm 14k rose gold women’s wedding ring from James Allen is only $250, while this 14k rose gold 3mm wedding ring from Blue Nile is even cheaper at only $225.
Rose gold naturally complements all skin tones, from fair and rosy skin to olive and darker skin tones.
There are two main disadvantages to rose gold as a wedding ring material. First, due to its high copper content, it’s slightly more likely than other types of gold to cause skin issues. Second, as it’s a newly popular metal, only a few engagement rings and wedding bands come in rose gold.
With its stunning color and natural white sheen, platinum is a gorgeous metal that subtly signals luxury and exclusivity.
As a metal for engagement rings and wedding bands, platinum offers numerous advantages. It’s naturally beautiful, offering a stunning white color similar to white gold and palladium (a precious metal we’ve listed below).
It’s durable, with good resistance to wear and corrosion. It’s also hypoallergenic, meaning it’s far less likely to trigger skin reactions in people with metal allergies than wedding band metals such as yellow, white or rose gold.
Finally, platinum ages nicely, developing a beautiful patina over time. It’s also easy to have your platinum ring polished to restore its shine as it ages. Like white gold, platinum complements fair or rosy skin tones.
The biggest disadvantage of platinum as a women’s or men’s wedding ring metal is its cost. A platinum wedding ring will typically cost almost twice as much as an equivalent ring in a metal such as 14K white gold.
For example, this 5mm men’s wedding ring from James Allen is $900 in platinum. In 14K white gold, the same ring is only $540. Likewise, this 3mm women’s wedding band from Blue Nile is $400 in platinum but only costs $225 in 14K white gold.
Platinum is worth considering if you’re looking for a durable, luxurious, white-colored metal and don’t mind a relatively high price tag. However, if you’re just after the white color and don’t want to overspend, 14K white gold is a great affordable alternative to platinum.
Palladium is a white, silvery-colored precious metal. As we explained in our detailed comparison of palladium and platinum, rings and other pieces of jewelry made out of palladium have a color and general appearance that’s very similar to those made from platinum.
Wedding bands and engagement rings made from palladium are durable. Unlike gold, which is easily scratched, palladium doesn’t lose metal when it’s scratched. Instead, the metal becomes displaced. This means that a palladium ring can develop a patina over time.
One key difference between palladium and platinum is the weight of each metal. Palladium is a much lighter metal than platinum, making it worth considering if you want a lightweight wedding ring.
Until recently, palladium used to be a more affordable metal than platinum. However, the recent increase in palladium prices means you’ll pay about the same amount or slightly more for a ring made out of palladium as you would for the same ring in platinum.
The main disadvantages of palladium are its price, as we mentioned above, and availability. As a rare and valuable metal, palladium isn’t commonly used as a women’s or men’s wedding band material, meaning the selection of available rings is quite small.
Durable, affordable and comfortable, titanium is an interesting alternative to conventional metals for men’s wedding rings like gold and platinum.
Titanium is light gray in color, with a surface that can either be polished to a shine or brushed for a matte appearance. Because of its masculine looks, titanium is usually only used as a metal for men’s wedding bands, with women’s titanium rings quite rare.
The biggest advantage of titanium is its durability. Titanium is a strong metal that won’t bend or break under normal use. It’s also easy to maintain — as a durable metal, a titanium ring can be cared for with soap and water and usually doesn’t need to be maintained by a jeweler.
Note that due to this metal’s hardness and resistance to heat, titanium wedding rings can’t be resized.
Overall, titanium is a good choice if you’re looking for an alternative to traditional wedding band metals with a modern, masculine appearance. It’s also a very affordable metal, with this titanium ring from James Allen just $90 and this gorgeous two-tone black titanium and tantalum ring from Blue Nile only $395.
Tungsten carbide is a metal alloy that’s created from tungsten bonded with an alloy metal, such as titanium, carbon or nickel. It’s a very durable metal that resists scratches and wear very well, making it a good option if you or your partner have an active lifestyle.
In fact, tungsten carbide is one of the strongest metals available for wedding rings. A ring made from high-quality tungsten carbide will be around four times as hard as one made from titanium and about 10 times as hard as one made from 18K gold.
Because of its incredible hardness, wedding rings that are made from tungsten carbide can’t be bent or resized. However, despite this strength, tungsten is a brittle metal when it’s subjected to pressure, meaning it’s possible for a tungsten ring to shatter when hit or dropped from a height.
Like titanium, tungsten carbide is typically used as a men’s wedding band metal. Although most tungsten carbide is silver-grey in color, this metal comes in a variety of colors, from black, like in this 8mm Matte Hammered Edge tungsten carbide wedding band, white, like this classic comfort fit wedding band, to rose, like in this tungsten carbide bright step band.
Overall, tungsten carbide is a good choice of wedding ring metal if you or your partner have an active lifestyle and need a ring that won’t scratch, bend or wear easily.
Tantalum is another non-conventional men’s wedding ring metal that’s become popular over the past decade. With a color that’s slightly darker than platinum, tantalum has a pleasant shine that looks similar to that of many precious metals.
Wedding rings made from tantalum are very durable, able to resist scratches, warping and other common forms of wear and tear easily. Tantalum is also a much less brittle metal than tungsten carbide, meaning there’s no risk of a ring made from tantalum shattering if dropped.
Like many other metals, tantalum is hypoallergenic, meaning it isn’t likely to trigger allergic skin reactions. It’s also quite a malleable metal, meaning that it can be resized, although it can be a challenge finding jewelers experienced with tantalum in many areas.
The only real downside of tantalum is its price. Although tantalum costs less than palladium or platinum, rings made of tantalum are typically more expensive than those made of titanium or tungsten carbide. For example, this men’s low dome comfort fit tantalum ring costs $395.
Overall, tantalum is a great choice of metal for men’s wedding bands. It’s strong, has a stylish, masculine appearance and offers great value for money despite being slightly more costly than titanium or tungsten carbide.
Cobalt, or cobalt chrome, is a popular non-conventional men’s wedding band metal that’s often chosen as a more affordable alternative to white gold, platinum and palladium.
As with other metals used for wedding bands and other jewelry, the cobalt used for jewelry isn’t a completely pure metal. Instead, it’s alloyed with metals such as iron, tungsten and chromium for improved durability and malleability.
Cobalt looks very similar to other white metals, particularly white gold. Because it’s harder and more durable than gold, it’s also more resistant to scratching. Rings made from cobalt are also less maintenance-heavy than gold and don’t need to be dipped to maintain their appearance.
Like other durable metals, cobalt can be quite difficult to resize, meaning you’ll want to be sure of your ring size before ordering a cobalt wedding band.
These characteristics make cobalt an attractive alternative to white gold for people interested in a durable, affordable wedding band. For example, this 6mm cobalt chrome men’s wedding band only costs $160, whereas this similar ring in 14K white gold costs $675.
Because everyone has unique needs and tastes, there’s no “best” metal for everyone’s wedding ring. To get the best ring for you and your partner, choose a metal with qualities that match your needs and lifestyle, all while avoiding disadvantages that could get in your way.
If you need help, feel free to contact us. Our experts can help you choose the perfect metal for your wedding bands, engagement ring or any other jewelry.
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