In the past decade, white metal wedding bands have seen a huge surge in demand, rising above yellow gold in popularity for their clean, modern feel, demure hue, and sophisticated shine. Almost all white metals have advantages over yellow gold in durability and longevity, as well. White metals such as white gold, silver, platinum, palladium, titanium, and tungsten are less likely to show wear, as the lighter metals tend to reflect light differently than colored gold. Most excitingly, there is a range of white metals that rings can be made from, each offering distinctive advantages and subtle differences.
An alternative to conventional yellow colored gold is white gold. Like standard gold, white gold’s purity is also given in karats, and also like traditional yellow gold, white gold is alloyed with other metals such as nickel or platinum to increase durability and hardness. Depending on the proportions and type of alloy metal used, white gold can differ in hue from faintly yellow to almost white. Because yellow gold is still the base metal, however, white gold wedding rings are almost always plated with a thin coat of a metal called rhodium, which gives these rings their characteristic high-gloss sheen and bright white color. Rhodium plating does eventually wear down, and depending on wear these rings may need to be re-plated every few years.
White gold is relatively malleable compared to other white metals, which means it can be wrought into delicate patterns and intricate settings. One of the most popular wedding ring materials on the market, white gold is also one of the more affordable options, falling somewhere in the middle of the white metal price scale and far under the price tag of platinum.
Silver is one of the whitest metals used in jewelry, but in its pure form is incredibly soft and easily damaged. In order to increase its strength silver is alloyed with other metals-most frequently copper and nickel. The most popular formula is what is commonly referred to as ‘sterling silver,’ an alloy of 92.5% silver and 7.5% of another metal. Silver is more reflective than gold and can achieve a brilliant polish, but has achieved most of its popularity away from the wedding ring market, where more precious metals are favored. Because of its softness, silver is easily dented and marred, and is very prone to tarnishing and discoloration. Argentium Sterling Silver is now available, which adds some germanium to the traditional copper alloy, making it more tarnish resistant, but softness is still a problem and expensive stone settings are rarely done in silver. Still, silver makes an inexpensive alternative, especially for simple bands.
One of the most popular choices of the white metals is platinum. Its durability and natural white color make it a highly favorable alternative to gold, and unlike white gold, platinum is not brittle and is less likely to break. Platinum is a strong and dense metal, 1.6 times heavier than 14k gold of the same size.
For platinum jewelry to be considered genuine it must contain at least 90% platinum-the other 10% is usually a combination of alloys to add strength and practicality for jewelers and consumers. Also, platinum is a hypoallergenic metal, and therefore won’t have any adverse skin reactions for buyers and wearers of platinum jewelry. Platinum does have a few negative attributes, such as price and care. It is the most costly of precious metals that are used in jewelry and though it is very durable, platinum may scratch easily and often needs to be re-polished to maintain a sleek, lustrous finish.
Nonetheless, platinum’s brilliant sheen and designation as the most precious of metals makes it a very popular choice for wedding rings. Possibly this is the reason why platinum wedding rings have surged in pupularity with jewelry designers and consumers alike.
Palladium began to appear on the jewelry market in 1939 as a less expensive alternative to platinum, and partly in response to platinum’s allocation as a strategic metal during WII (which meant platinum was unavailable for jewelry use). Palladium is considered a “platinum group” metal on the periodic table, and shares platinum’s naturally white color and hardness. In fact, palladium is actually about 10 percent harder than platinum and slightly whiter. Palladium can be formed into intricate patterns, and is also one of the most popular metals to create white gold alloys with.
Palladium, like platinum, is hypoallergenic and can form the hazy patina over time that many enjoy in platinum, but unlike platinum may react with certain chemicals and may become brittle with frequent, drastic temperature changes. Still, with many of the same properties as platinum and a slightly lower cost, it is easy to see why palladium is gaining popularity on the wedding ring market. In fact, many jewelers theorize that as more consumers hear about this white metal, that it may overcome platinum in popularity. Most online and bricks and mortar jewelers now stock an extensive line of palladium wedding rings.
All of this really depends on availability of the two metals. As recently as 2001, palladium actually cost more than platinum due to casting difficulties. But newer technology and spikes in platinum and gold costs have helped build palladium’s reputation as a reliable and lovely alternative to the classic white metals.
Titanium is almost 100% pure, four times harder than steel, weighs less than gold, and is completely hypoallergenic. It does not tarnish, corrode, or react with body chemistry. Oh, and it costs much less than any of the white metals discussed thus far.
Titanium provides several factors that make it a superb metal for producing wedding rings. It is bend, scratch, and dent resistant, and will not wear down over time the way gold bands do. It also has the unique claim of coming in a rainbow of colors, from natural white-gray to black, to oxidized shades of red, orange, blue, green, or multi-color.
Pure titanium, as mentioned, is 100% hypoallergenic and allergy free and will not irritate skin or become discolored with time. Pure titanium does not react to sunlight, body chemistry or salt water. Because of its incredible hardness, however, titanium rings are cannot be soldered, which means that they cannot be resized, so it is exceptionally important to get the correct finger size when shopping for titanium rings.
Because titanium is so difficult to work with and cannot be manipulated as easily as other white metals, it is most often seen in very simple bands, sometimes with decorative finishes. Gems can be set in titanium, but the majority of titanium bands on the market are stone-free bands. The simplicity and toughness of titanium has made it an incredibly popular metal choice with men and in the gay and lesbian community. It is considered a symbol of unbreakable devotion and continues to gain in demand today. You will find a large assortment of titanium wedding rings in most online and bricks and mortar jewelers.
Tungsten is an extremely hard and dense metal, which gives it a hefty weight that males are particularly fond of when buying jewelry. The best form of tungsten to look for when shopping for your wedding ring is tungsten carbide-a combination of tungsten, carbon, and other elements that together transform it into the hardest metal available on the commercial jewelry market. Tungsten carbide is nearly four times harder than titanium and ten times harder than 18 karat gold, and can be polished to a near-mirror shine that is almost entirely scratchproof. This makes tungsten a great choice for people who work in tough environments that expose their ring to potential scratch and wear. Tungsten is a dynamic metal that can be crafted with inlays of other precious metals to give it an elegant and modern feel. Tungsten wedding rings are arguably the most popular wedding rings among young males at the time of this writing.
You will find a large selection of these white metal wedding rings here at www.WeddingRings.net.