When it comes to classic wedding rings, no single style has been more iconic or more popular than the traditional gold band. But for an unlucky number of newlyweds each year, the excitement of slipping on their wedding ring is marred by sometimes ugly allergic reactions. Commonly and often incorrectly labeled “gold allergy,” this condition is generally a result of reactions to other alloys present in gold wedding bands. Because pure gold is an incredibly soft metal, almost all bands are made from a combination of gold and some other, stronger, metal to help withstand the daily use and wear. For instance, 14k gold is only 58.3% pure gold, and 18k is 75% pure; the addition of metals such as copper, nickel, zinc, and silver are more typically the culprits behind allergic reactions, particularly nickel.
For a long time, there were few alternatives to gold alloy or silver wedding rings, and those afflicted with some sorts of metal allergies had to settle for plainer or more expensive alternative metal bands. But in the expanding jewelry market and with the advent of more advanced research into allergens and their effects, today’s buyer can often easily find fully hypoallergenic metal rings.
Whether you’re searching for a ring that won’t give you a rash, or simply want to look into the possibilities of something a little non-traditional, there are now numerous options available to you, each with their own potential perks and drawbacks. A few of those options include:
Sometimes called “the King of Metals,” jewelry-quality platinum is generally 85-95% pure, and is among the rarest of precious metals. It is highly durable and weighs almost twice as much as gold, giving it a solid, substantial feel. Platinum is a lustrous white color that can compliment any stone setting or shine on its own, and is fully hypoallergenic. The high purity content of most platinum rings also means that there is less chance of irritation resulting from the alloys used. When buying platinum wedding bands, keep in mind that the alloy metal can directly affect the vibrancy and durability of the platinum; look for alloys of hard metals like Cobalt or Ruthenium. Many platinum wedding rings are alloyed with Iridium, a less expensive metal that is also considerably softer. Federal regulations require platinum rings to bear a stamp on the inside of the band. This “hallmark” can help you determine the percentage of platinum and which alloy is used. For a band to be considered pure platinum and bear a “Plat” or “.95″ Plat” stamp, it must be at least 95% platinum. Platinum wedding rings can be among the most expensive, but they are also among the most durable and rare.
Rings made from 100% hypoallergenic titanium are becoming more and more popular, especially among men. Stronger than steel but at half the weight, titanium is 99% pure, does not corrode or tarnish, and does not react to body chemistry. It is the choice metal for surgical tools and implants. We make our space shuttles and aircrafts from titanium alloys, and it is far cheaper than platinum. All this said, it is little wonder that titanium wedding bands are becoming one of the fastest growing jewelry markets in America. Titanium rings also have the unique offer of availability in multiple colors. Most commonly available are “black titanium” rings, popular in men’s wedding bands, which are created from alloys of titanium and rare earth metals. Through a sometimes tricky process of heat and pressure, normally gray to whitish metal is darkened to a deep charcoal or almost black shade. Unlike simple metal coatings, this process actually alters the top layers of the metal, creating a durable, scratch-resistant surface. Some jewelers are even offering brightly colored titanium wedding rings: because of titanium’s unique interaction with oxygen, processes have been developed which force an abnormal amount of oxygen to the surface, altering the surface crystals and creating an “oxide” layer. This creates a highly light-refractive surface (imagine oil on water) that results in any number of colorful options. Colored titanium rings are still hypoallergenic, but may be more prone to surface scratches than traditional or even black titanium bands. When buying titanium, bear in mind that these bands may not be resized easily-if at all-so be sure to check your size carefully before you buy.
Polished tungsten wedding rings will remain shining and scratch-free with daily use longer than any other metal on the market-if you know what to look for. When shopping for tungsten wedding rings, be sure to look for “tungsten carbide” and ask specifically about “nickel-binder tungsten carbide.” Some jewelers use a cobalt alloy tungsten rather than nickel, which leaves the ring more pervious to damage from skin oils. Nickel-bound tungsten carbide is 100% hypoallergenic as the tungsten is actually bound to the nickel, preventing it from leeching out and causing irritation (even in people who are allergic to nickel). Like titanium, tungsten is both incredibly strong and very lightweight. In fact, tungsten carbide is up to four times stronger than titanium and up to ten times stronger than 18k gold. It is the hardest metal used in the commercial jewelry market, but is also more likely to chip or shatter rather than bend, can be difficult to achieve intricate patterns or engraving, and is generally more expensive than titanium.
The most important thing to remember with all hypoallergenic wedding bands is that the alloy can make or break the ring. Overall, the best way to find out exactly what you’re searching for is to go to a few jewelers and ask to see examples up-close and in-person. Once you have found what you are looking for, visit WeddingRings,net so that we can offer you the best price and customer service available on the Internet.