The Difference Between Popular Groom's Wedding Band Metals
A groom's guide to six precious and alternative metals.
When picking out a wedding band, men used to choose between platinum and yellow gold. But now jewelers are selling bands in a variety of different precious and alternative metals. A married man will constantly wear his wedding band, so it's important to find a piece that best fits his personality and lifestyle, and appearance, cost, and sturdiness should all be taken into account. From the traditional to the modern, here's everything you need to know about the six most popular groom's wedding band metals.
Following tradition, many men will choose a wedding band made from a precious metal. According to Emanuel Sofiev, owner of Maddy Fine Jewelers in Syosset, New York, platinum and gold (particularly white gold) are the most popular options, but palladium has recently become fairly trendy. Precious metal bands are typically more durable and valuable than their alternative metal counterparts. Sofiev says that precious metals are soft, meaning they won't crack or break easily, and can be sized to perfectly fit a groom. But they'll need refinishing as time passes, but it's an inexpensive endeavor your jeweler can take on.
A dense and rare metal, platinum is a classic choice for male wedding bands. Platinum rings hold up well over time since the density of the metal means the soft silver-white surface will never fade, change color, or lose value. According to Sofiev, platinum is more expensive than most metals because "it's denser and heavier than gold." In fact, platinum rings often cost twice as much as gold rings, with the average price falling around $1,000. But, thanks to the metal's density, platinum rings last for a long time without wearing down. Nevertheless, a band made from this metal may scratch with time, but your jeweler will be able to clean it up.
Another popular wedding band option, gold is a soft and dense metal that comes in shades of white, rose, and yellow. It's also the most malleable precious metal, making sizing and resizing easy. Gold retains value over time and doesn't rust, but it also tends to scratch easily. Keep in mind that the purer the gold (the higher the karats), the easier the ring scratches. The price of a gold wedding band depends on the measure of purity, with higher karats equating to a greater cost.
According to Sofiev, "palladium is a naturally white-colored metal that has a lower cost than platinum." Traditionally mixed with yellow gold to make white gold, palladium resembles platinum with its bright white coloring, but it's a few hundred dollars cheaper and is also lighter in weight and density. The hypoallergenic metal won't tarnish, and Sofiev says that a palladium ring will stay shiny for most of its life but that its surface scratches easily. Since palladium is newly popular wedding band metal, and since manufacturing the metal is challenging, you may find fewer options at a jeweler.
For a contemporary and more affordable wedding band, some grooms may choose an alternative metal. Sofiev says some of the most popular alternative metals for rings are tungsten, stainless steel, and titanium. "They are a fraction of the price of platinum or gold," says Sofiev, adding that a similar ring can cost $70 in stainless steel and $2,000 in a precious metal. But these composite materials also have their downsides. According to Sofiev, alternative metals can't be resized since they're so brittle. The hardness also limits bendability, putting the rings at risk for cracking.
Tungsten is a perfect metal for the groom who wants a modern and non-traditional wedding band. Mostly available in black or gray, tungsten has a sleek masculine appearance. Additionally, tungsten is harder than other alternative metals, which protects it against bends and scratches. But tungsten's hardness also contributes to its brittleness and breakability. "Tungsten looks nice," says Sofiev, "but it can never be altered, sized, or refinished." This may present a problem later in life, since many men will gain or lose weight in their fingers. Yet some grooms may decide that tungsten's low price outweighs all the downsides; after all, you can buy a tungsten ring for about $200.
Durable and affordable, this incredibly strong metal has tons of industrial applications, and because it's available in black, silver, and gray, it's become a popular choice for the groom who likes having options. Rings made with titanium are lightweight and hard to scratch, but they can't be resized or repaired easily. In terms of price, expect titanium rings to be more expensive than stainless steel but cheaper than tungsten.
Although not as common in the wedding industry as tungsten or titanium, stainless steel is a durable and affordable metal for wedding bands, with tons of options available for as little as $100. The shiny appearance looks polished and modern, which may appeal to some grooms, but so remember that this metal tends to bend and scratch more easily than other alternatives.