Wedding Ring Metals
The ancient Romans started the tradition of metal wedding jewelry by exchanging rings made of iron. As time went on, people began using other more precious and beautiful metals when it came time for marriage. This is why you'll find antique wedding rings of silver, platinum, and gold of all colors. Today, brides and grooms have numerous wedding ring metal options available to them.
The most affordable of the precious metals, sterling silver differs from pure silver in that it's an alloy. Pure silver is too soft to be used to make jewelry, but mixing it with another metal--usually copper--increases its durability, and creates sterling silver.
Even with this strengthening, it's still a soft metal, and is easily scratched or dented. It also tarnishes, so it must be stored in a tarnish-preventive bag or box, and be polished from time to time to maintain its luster.
Although the word is also used to describe a shiny, yellowish color, gold comes in many colors. Yellow gold is the most popular option for wedding rings, and is the natural color of this precious metal. Pure gold is too soft for jewelry, though, so it must be mixed with other metals to hold its shape and withstand wear. The metal mixed with gold also determines its color:
- Yellow Gold: Small amounts of copper and silver give pure gold strength and durability, while maintaining its warm, golden hue.
- White Gold: To achieve both durability and a bright whiteness, pure gold can be mixed with a combination of either silver and palladium, or copper, nickel and zinc. Note: If you have a nickel allergy you may want to check the composition of a wedding ring before purchasing it to make sure you'll be able to wear it.
- Rose Gold: Also called pink gold, this color is created by mixing copper into pure gold. The more copper used, the redder the hue will be.
- Green Gold: Oddly, a greenish cast is achieved simply by mixing pure gold with silver. Despite its name, the end result is more of a greenish yellow color.
Because it's much rarer than gold, platinum is considered by many to be more desirable. Its rarity also makes it more expensive than gold. However, the higher cost is also justified by the metal's hardness and durability, and the fact that it doesn't oxidize or tarnish. In addition, because it's harder on its own, a higher purity--usually 90% to 95%--can be used in jewelry, making platinum jewelry quite bright, and the perfect setting for diamonds.
A member of the platinum metal group, palladium is also white, quite durable, and doesn't tarnish. However, because it's has a lower density than, and isn't quite as bright as platinum, it costs less, making it attractive for those who like the look of platinum, but want to spend less. The fact that palladium is hypoallergenic makes it a good option for those with nickel allergies who have a difficult time finding gold alloy jewelry they can wear without an allergic reaction.
Because it is one of the strongest and most scratch-resistant metals in existence, titanium doesn't need to include alloys to increase its durability. These features, plus the fact that it's lightweight, make it a popular option for men's wedding bands in particular. The downside is that due to the metal's hardness, titanium rings cannot be sized.
While it is an alloy, steel is vulnerable to oxidation due to its iron content. However, an infusion of at least 10.5% chromium makes it resistant to oxidation, putting the stainless in stainless steel. This combination of metals also makes stainless steel very strong, but it remains an affordable option for wedding rings. It can be highly polished to the point of looking chrome-like, or it can be given a matte finish, making it look almost like pewter.
Look through our gorgeous antique wedding rings, available in a variety of metals to suit your taste and style.