While silver, gold and platinum will always be the primary metals for jewelry construction, now there are more choices than ever when it comes to metal selection. Many of these have been introduced due to the rising cost of those aforementioned traditional metals, especially gold. Each have their own special attributes so before you jump on the new metal bandwagon; make sure you understand all the pros and cons.
Pure tungsten is very soft but when combined with a carbon alloy, the metal becomes more durable than steel. Generally carbide (also known as carbon) is used, producing a metal much darker in overall color than silver, white gold or platinum but with a gorgeous shiny mirror finish.
Tungsten is extremely scratch resistant and has a much greater overall weight than stainless steel or titanium. While you might assume a metal with this much heft is virtually indestructible unfortunately that isn’t the case. Along with its hardness, tungsten also has a brittleness that can cause it to crack or shatter depending on the impact velocity. Tungsten rings cannot be resized. Since it is not possible to cut and resoldered a tungsten ring, it is vitality important to ensure a correct fit from the beginning. Also it is crucial to note that in case of an accident traditional jewelry cutting tools will not work.
This metal is extremely durable, naturally hypoallergenic and resists tarnishing and discoloration. The one noticeable characteristic of titanium is its subtle medium gray shading without the sheen of traditional metals like gold or platinum. Because titanium doesn’t contain any additional alloys it is both hypoallergenic and bio-compatible. This lightweight metal has surprising strength, so much so that it is often said it has steel like strength with aluminum weight.
One of the oxymorons of titanium is even though it is an industrial grade metal, scratches and daily wear and tear do occur, though most can be removed through regular polishing. Rings constructed from titanium are not able to be resized and if they have to be cut off most can be removed with traditional jewelry removal equipment unless stronger aircraft grade titanium was used.
Just imagine a piece of jewelry created from the same metal used to build jet engines! Cobalt chrome is extremely durable, permanently retains its shape and is scratch resistance. Often compared in hue to white gold or platinum, this is cobalt’s natural color unlike other metals which are plated with rhodium. Frequently cobalt chrome is used when manufacturing surgical tools making it both hypoallergenic and bio-compatible.
This metal is shatterproof, fairly scratch resistant and incorporates a higher degree of ductility allowing for a greater level of design creativity.
Cobalt chrome is shatterproof and cannot be resized, so when this metal is used as a ring metal, a correct fit is imperative.
Ultra grade stainless steel looks exactly like platinum but is a thousand times more durable and much less costly. Stainless will not rust or stain but does need regular cleaning to retain its luster. Stainless steel brings an edgy contemporary look to a traditional piece of jewelry that is often hard to obtain when working with other metals.
Stainless is a strong metal but has very little pliability making it unsuitable when it comes to delicate or intricate designs. While stainless is hypoallergenic it can contain nickel which may cause a skin reaction in some people. Resizing can be done on a stainless ring but it is difficult and many jewelers aren’t comfortable attempting it.
Ceramic jewelry probably isn’t exactly what you think. Made from titanium carbide, it is commonly known as high-tech ceramic. Jewelry constructed from this metal is very long lasting and comes in a plethora of colors. One great advantage with colored ceramic is the pigment is actually in the metal, not coated on, so the color will never wear off or fade. Ceramic jewelry is lightweight, scratch resistant and will always retain its luster and finish.
Ceramic jewelry pieces will break or shatter if dropped and due to the unique properties of the metal cannot be resized or easily repaired.
These contemporary metals have many common characteristics, each with their own special twist. If you are contemplating one of these metals for your wedding band, choose one that is right for you and that will last a lifetime.
Due to the industrial nature of many of these metals I can only work with two out of the five metals reviewed, cobalt chrome and stainless steel. Have a unique and interesting design idea that you think either one of these new metals would be perfect for? Let’s chat!