Wedding Ring Guide

The "profile" of a wedding band affects the look, the feel and the ring size that you will need.

Half Round style wedding band
"Half-Round" or "D shaped" Profile
This classic profile has been popular for many years and was the style most likely worn by your grandparents.  This is why you will notice that most of the examples of this half-round profile are found in older style wedding rings such as our museum reproduction “poesy” rings

Half Round Vintage Style Wedding Band Poesy half round band
half-round profile bands from our
"poesy" ring collection

Flat profile wedding ring
"Flat" Profile
This style is often found on antique or ancient rings.  But this flat profile is also favored by some modern jewelry artists as well.  This is true, in part, because hand forging a metal ring, as was most often done long ago, results in this flat shape.  The half-round or comfort  profiles seen today are more often cast or machine milled.  Some modern jewelry makers like ourselves also like to hand forge our rings, so you will find many modern handmade rings that still have a flat profile.

Carpe Diem flat wedding ring  Vous et nul autre flat wedding band
flat profile bands from our
"poesy" ring collection

Court or Comfort profile wedding ring
"Comfort" or "Court" Profile

This is the most popular profile in men's wedding bands today.  There are many variations to the tops of comfort bands such as flat or concave tops.  The inside is always rounded though to be considered a "comfort" or "court" style.

Meteorite court profile wedding ring  Camouflage comfort profile wedding band Wooden court profile wedding band
"Comfort" or "Court" profile bands.
classic domed top ~ flat top ~ concave top
from our Alternative Metals collection.

Alternative wedding ring metals

Cobalt Chrome
cobalt chrome ~ an alternative for men's rings.

Cobalt Chrome is a newer addition to the choices of alternative metal and well worth considering.  Cobalt chrome rings have a weight and feel that is very similar to gold and has the whitest color of all the alternative metals, similar to platinum.  The other alternative metals are more grayish.

 durability:   very good, much better than gold, silver or platinum
scratch resistance:   good, much better than gold, silver or platinum
 color:   very white, similar to platinum
 weight or “heft”:   high, similar to gold
hypo-allergenic:   yes
    re-sizable:   no, but our rings have a warranty

cobalt chrome wedding band with MokumeCobalt chrome wedding ring
2 cobalt chrome designs from our alternative metals collection. 

Titanium is popular in men's wedding rings.

Titanium is stronger than steel but lighter than aluminum.  It was one of the very first of the “alternative metals” to emerge.  You will find that the feather weight titanium feels like air in your hand compared to most of the other metals.  This is a plus for some, although it seems like the heftier metals have been more popular recently.  This is true in part because, despite the great hardness of titanium, it still does not resist scratches very well compared to some of the other newer metals.  Although it has a lower resistance to scratching, its light weight and strength make it comfortable and very easy to wear. It’s also nickel free, making it hypoallergenic and tarnish resistant.  Titanium has a price advantage being a less expensive option among the alternative metals.  Most of our cobalt chrome rings are available in titanium and vice versa.

  durability:   very good, much better than gold, silver or platinum
scratch resistance:
  poor, compared to other new metals, but still better than gold, silver or platinum
color:   gray
weight or “heft”:   very low
hypo-allergenic:   yes
re-sizable:   no, but our rings have a warranty

Claddaugh titanium wedding band  Titanium wedding ring
2 titanium bands from our alternative metals collection.

Damascus Steel
Damascus steel wedding ring

Our Damascus steel is a lesser known metal because producing the metal is a time consuming and technically challenging procedure.  Few makers have the means or patience to do it.  Damascus steel is a unique blend of up to 120 layers of two different types of stainless steel. These layers are forged together to make beautiful, durable rings. This technique was made famous by ancient Japanese sword makers.  This ancient metalworking skill makes one-of-a-kind rings with each ring having a distinct wood grand pattern.  Although stainless steel is technically not as scratch resistant as some of the other alternative metals we find that these Damascus bands hold their showcase look extremely well.

  durability:   very good, much better than gold, silver or platinum
 scratch resistance:   good.  The finish of our damascus steel rings holds up very well
  color:   gray
weight or “heft”:   medium
hypo-allergenic:   yes
re-sizable:   no, but our rings have a warranty

Damascus steel wedding ring  Damascus steel men's wedding band
2 Damascus steel bands from our alternative metals collection.

Zirconium used in mens wedding rings.
Zirconium has been found in meteorites
and in lunar rocks.

Black zirconium has a highly polished lustrous look and feel.  The black surface is created through oxidation and is amazingly durable.  Black Zirconium is typically used in medical applications and nuclear reactors.  It is perfect for jewelry use because it is hypo-allergenic and has a lustrous black look that is very scratch resistant.  Many people like our black zirconium designs that are inlaid with Damascus steel, meteorite or other metals.  The contrasting look of the two materials and the smooth feel of the zirconium on the hand is a nice combination.

durability:   good, much better than gold, silver or platinum
scratch resistance:   very good, much better than gold, silver or platinum
 color:   black
weight or “heft”:   medium light, although it is often combined with heavier metals
hypo-allergenic:   yes
re-sizable:   no, but our rings have a warranty

Zirconium wedding ring  Zirconium and Damascus steel wedding bands
2 zirconium bands, one with a Damascus Steel strip.

Tungsten used in wedding rings.  Tungsten used in wedding bands

Tungsten formation on left under electron microscope.
At right, tungsten melts at an incredible 6191 degrees.
Gold melts at only 1948 degrees.

  Tungsten is an exceptionally scratch resistant metal and a good choice for someone who wants a finish to last.  A polished tungsten finish will stay polished without the need to be re-polished.  Tungsten is a heavy metal, similar to platinum.  This extra heft combined with the comfort-fit profile of our tungsten rings gives these rings a luxurious feel.  Tungsten is one of the whiter of the alternative metals but still not quite as white as the cobalt chrome.  You will find tungsten combined with ceramic in our wedding ring collection.  Ceramic, usually black, is another exceptionally scratch resistant material and provides a durable contrast to the metallic tungsten color.

durability:   incredibly strong and yet could be shattered
scratch resistance:   excellent
color:   grayish white  (white or black tungsten is a coated version of tungsten)
weight or “heft”:   very high, similar to platinum
hypo-allergenic:   yes
re-sizable:   no, but our rings have a warranty

Tungsten mens wedding band
Tungsten band, stone finished with a black ceramic inlay.  From our alternative metals collection

Precious metals in jewelry

Fine (pure) silver, gold and platinum coins.
The biggest difference between all of the precious metals versus all of the alternative metals as jewelry is that the precious metals have the ideal properties needed to be hammered, formed or cast as the jeweler desires.  They can also be repaired, re-finished or re-sized at a later time. Most all of these things are impossible with the alternative metals.

Sterling Silver stone setting
Stone setting requires malleable metal that can be pushed by hand.

Soldering gold, silver or platinum
Precision soldering by hand requires gold, silver or platinum.

Casting gold, silver or platinum
The precious metals can be cast with great detail.

forging gold silver or platinum
Precious metals have the malleability to
be shaped without tearing or breaking.

Computer milled men's wedding ring
Only computer controlled milling machines
can handle the very strong alternative metals.

Of course another advantage to precious metal jewelry is that your metal always has some value even if the jewelry is beyond repair.  In reality of course what you receive when you sell old jewelry is so little, compared to the purchase price, that the idea of jewelry as an investment isn’t usually realistic.  Still, at least some lasting value in your jewelry is a nice advantage over most of the things that we buy.

Gold in jewelry
Gold coin
Gold Roman Coin,  head of Hadrian c.117-138AD

Gold vein
Vein of Gold
Gold in quartz ring
Gold in Quartz ring from

How many metals can you think of that actually have a color?  Colorless silver or shades of gray describe all but two metals, gold and copper  Pure gold is a very bright yellow color but it is also very soft in it’s pure form, too soft to hold up to most jewelry uses.  In order to add strength, gold is mixed with other metals like copper, zinc, silver and nickel.  This also reduces the cost.  The purity of gold is described with the term karat.  This can easily be confused with the term carat which is a unit of weight for gemstones and totally unrelated.  Here’s how it works:

expressed as
a fraction
% purity
of gold
common alloys
with the gold
100% pure
fine gold
 75% pure
 copper, zinc, silver, nickel
 58.5% pure
 copper, zinc, silver, nickel
 42% pure
 copper, zinc, silver, nickel

Yellow, rose and white gold
White gold and all other “colors” of gold are created by mixing certain metals with the gold, for example extra copper is what gives rose gold it’s pinkish hue.  Other exotic colors have been created with subtle hues of green and purple but white gold has gotten most of the attention. 

White gold came in to popularity when platinum was needed for the war effort of WWII.  Jewelers scrambled to replace the popular platinum and created the alloy that we now call white gold.  In truth white gold is not truly white but has a very subtle yellowish hue, so nearly all white gold jewelry has been rhodium plated.  Rhodium is one of the platinum group metals, very white and durable.  This plating holds up well but may need to be replaced occasionally which is a routine and relatively inexpensive service your local jeweler can provide.

White gold is much stronger than yellow gold.  This is one reason why diamonds are almost always held with white gold prongs even if the rest of the ring is yellow gold.  Yellow gold is a fairly soft metal but if a ring is well made it may still last a lifetime.  A white gold band would likely survive twice as long as a yellow gold one.  Sterling silver is even softer than yellow gold and is not expected to last as well as yellow gold unless it is a very substantial ring.  Platinum is amazing and should last longer than any of the other precious metals.

Durability vs Scratch Resistance:  Metals sometimes defy logic.  A platinum ring is far more durable than a gold ring and will easily outlast a gold ring, and yet a platinum ring will show scratches more easily than a gold ring.  Scratch-resistance may be as important as durability in the long run since most of us are not going to break our rings but more likely just damage the finish, especially with regard to the new alternative metals that are all extremely hard to bend or break but vary a lot in their ability to resist scratching.  Titanium is very strong and yet it still doesn’t resist scratches all that well.

Gold is a heavy metal.  This heft is one reason that the advertising slogan “nothing else feels like real gold” seems true, and also why trying on a new featherweight titanium band feels so strange at first.  This heft or lack of it will affect how you feel about a ring.  Some of the alternative metals like cobalt chrome and tungsten have a high heft that is similar to gold and platinum.  Sterling silver isn’t lightweight but it lacks the heft of gold.  Gold does not win the heft contest though.  Platinum beats gold easily being an amazing 70% heavier.

Sterling Silver used as Wedding Bands
A more affordable metal that has great working properties for a jeweler.  If it weren't for it's ability to tarnish it would truly be a "noble" metal.  Silver has a natural white color, unlike “white gold” that needs rhodium plating to hide it’s slightly yellow tint.  The term “sterling” defines the purity of the silver as .925%.  In it’s pure form silver is so very soft that copper is added to strengthen the metal enough for jewelry use.  This softness of silver is one of the reasons you usually don't see very expensive gems set in silver.  Silver jewelry generally has a shorter lifespan than gold or platinum.

Internationally, Sterling Silver is stamped .925

Silver natural specimen 
A natural silver specimen from Germany

Silver Greek Coin
Silver Greek Coin – head of Athena c.443-400 BC

Silver cup
Silver Cup with high relief, 1st century A.D.

Silver can tarnish.
This tarnishing generally doesn’t occur on the surface of a ring that you are wearing regularly but if there are recessed areas they may darken over time.  This may be a plus, in fact many silver rings have been “pre-tarnished” for you in the recessed areas.  We call this “oxidizing” or “antiquing”.  This brings out the detail.
Gold wedding ring
Oxidized or "Antiqued" gold wedding band.

  This is the "Yours Onli" band from our Poesy Ring collection in 14K Yellow Gold.  Gold is a noble metal that cannot be oxidized like silver but 14K gold also has copper mixed in that can be made to oxidize.  We antique a 14K gold ring by heating it and applying liver of sulfur to the entire surface which blackens it.  We then polish off the high places leaving the recessed areas dark.  This replicates the tarnish or "patina" that naturally occurs over time with silver.  The entire ring may slowly tarnish but the high areas are "polished" by your fingers with daily wear.

Platinum used in wedding bands.

Platinum and Gold   Platinum cubic natural shapes
Native platinum cubic crystals from Russia. 
It is gold that nearly covers the one on the left.

Platinum is the luxury metal, pure beauty and extraordinary strength.

Platinum has a specific gravity roughly 70% higher than gold so it’s heft is remarkable.  Platinum is actually a group of metals.  Platinum jewelry is made of a mixture of platinum metals for best look and durability.  It is 100% platinum, not mixed with other non-platinum metals like the Karat golds are.  A platinum piece of jewelry is very strong and will usually last much longer than a similar piece in 14K gold.  This great heft is one reason that platinum jewelry is expensive. 

precious metal scales
If a gold ring and a platinum ring were identical, the platinum ring would weigh 70% more

Metals are sold by weight so you can see how this affects the cost of platinum jewelry.
Platinum is a metal that seems illogical.  Even though it will easily out last gold by many years, it actually seems to show wear at least as easily as gold, but a little differently.  Over time platinum takes on a unique finish, a more satiny subdued look.  It isn't hardness that gives platinum it's longevity.  It is durable because it actually has a somewhat spongy quality compared to gold.  A sharp nail may leave a scratch on gold and remove a little metal.  The same nail may leave only a dent on the platinum with no metal removed.

Sensitive Skin and Jewelry

Some people are sensitive to the metals mixed in with their jewelry and have allergic reactions.  An allergy to nickel is the most common problem.  If you have had any problems of that sort you may want to consider a narrower ring or comfort-fit style.  Wider bands tend to hold moisture, soap and cosmetics that can bother sensitive skin.  Comfort-fit bands tend to “breathe” better than flat or half round bands.  Our collection of “Alternative Metal Wedding Rings” is the perfect choice for sensitive skin.  All of these metals are very hypo-allergenic.

Be aware that what seems like a metal allergy can often be traced to something “environmental” such as certain cosmetics, dryer sheets, cleaning supplies or just soap that isn’t being entirely rinsed away after washing your hands.  Wide rings can aggravate what may be only a mild allergy by trapping the material against the skin, and a narrower or comfort-fit ring may help.
Many of us find that our knuckle is the largest part of our finger, and that the ring is a little looser after it goes past the knuckle.  This finger type gives the ring some “breathing” room after it is on.  If your finger type holds the ring tighter to the skin then you are more vulnerable to environmental things aggravating your skin.  If you are having reactions to any of the alternative metal rings then that tells you that metal allergy isn’t the problem.  A blackish stain under sterling silver rings may be the silver itself  being abraded away by something such as heavy metals used in cosmetics (seriously) or cleansers.  Redness or blistering suggests an allergic reaction,  typically to nickel.
If you have metal allergies the only precious metal that is completely safe for you is platinum.  There is still a very good chance that you could tolerate nickel-free silver though.  All of our alternative metal rings are hypo-allergenic.