Heavy metal.

You know what made this whole wedding seem real? When we went shopping for wedding bands. Up until that point, we may as well have been planning a big party. But once we started looking at and trying on rings, it reminded me that once the party was over, we’d be married. These rings weren’t just jewelry; they would be symbols of our commitment. Mind = blown.

I was lucky in that I inherited both an engagement ring and a coordinating wedding band from my grandmother. You’ve all seen my engagement ring; the wedding band is of similar thickness, but with three baguette diamonds across the top. It’s perfect, and I’m thrilled with it – except that it’s white gold, while my engagement ring is platinum. My mother/grandmother never knew why the rings were two different metals, but I’m resetting the wedding band in platinum. Not because I care about the rings matching perfectly (I thought they did match already, to be honest), but because I have a terrible nickel allergy, and white gold and I do not get along. But more on that in a moment.

Stallion, on the other hand, had some decisions to make. Fortunately, my dad’s best friend from childhood is a jeweler in Central Jersey, so he was able to help us out. And now I am positively brimming with jewelry knowledge to share with you all.

Selecting our metals was easier said than done – we had no idea there were so many to choose from! I’ve listed them all for you, ordered approximately from most to least expensive:

  • Platinum – Very traditional. This is the most expensive option by far. It’s a naturally gray pure metal, meaning that it is not blended with other metals to achieve its color or increase its durability, so it’s a great choice for those of us with nickel allergies. It’s stronger than gold, but it’s also heavier. Unlike gold, it does not truly scratch; what looks like a scratch on a platinum ring is just displacement of metal, whereas with a gold ring, you do lose metal with each scratch.
  • Yellow gold – Very traditional. All other factors being equal, an 18 karat gold ring will run you about half the price of a platinum ring. The price correlates with the karat weight, or percentage of gold in the ring. Gold by itself is naturally too soft for jewelry, so it is blended with other metals for increased durability.
  • White gold – Another traditional choice. This will cost about the same as yellow gold. White gold is plated with rhodium in order to keep its color; you will want to get your ring redipped annually-ish. The alloys that create white gold typically contain nickel, so beware if you have allergies! That said, there are white gold alloys that do not contain nickel, so if your heart is set on it, see what your jeweler has available. For me, I opted to skip white gold altogether, in case I have problems with other metals such as zinc that are found in these alloys.
  • Palladium – This is a less traditional metal choice that gives you the look of platinum or white gold at a much lower price point. It is another pure metal, meaning that it is hypoallergenic. If you have good eyes – I don’t – you’ll notice that palladium is a touch grayer than platinum. As far as durability goes, it is stronger and more scratch-resistant than gold, while being more lightweight than platinum. If I didn’t already have a platinum engagement ring, I personally would have gone with palladium for my wedding band.
  • Sterling silver – Silver is the softest of the “precious metals”, but also the most affordable. It’s not that popular for wedding bands since it’s not particularly durable; it will accumulate more scratches and dings over time than other metal choices and will lose its finish relatively quickly (although it’s super easy to polish!). While not a pure metal, the alloys used to create sterling silver usually do not contain nickel, so it is hypoallergenic.
  • Titanium – According to our jeweler, the main reason for titanium’s (as well as the other nontraditional metals detailed below) recent surge in popularity is that the prices for gold and platinum have skyrocketed and are out of reach for a lot of people (myself included, had we not gotten a “friends and family discount” on our rings). The bright side to this? Choice – there is a wider variety of metals, finishes, and styles than ever before! Titanium is naturally gunmetal gray, but can also come with a black finish that Stallion loves. It is extremely strong, much moreso than gold and platinum, and surprisingly lightweight. This is another hypoallergenic choice. The downside? Titanium cannot be resized, so should Stallion gain or lose a significant amount of weight, we’d have to buy a new wedding band – but these rings are so affordable that it’s not a big deal.
  • Cobalt chrome – Do you like the qualities of titanium, but prefer the bright white of platinum or white gold? Try cobalt chrome. Cobalt chrome is extremely strong and scratch resistant, and it will never need polishing – it will always look shiny and new. Unlike most of the alternative metals I’ve listed here, it can be resized.
  • Tungsten carbide – An alloy of tungsten and carbon, tungsten carbide is gray in color, similar to titanium. It’s the most scratch resistant of the metals on this list, and it’s relatively heavy compared to other metal choices. Unlike titanium, it can shatter at high impact, so it may not be the best choice for those who are hard on their hands. The other downside to tungsten carbide is that, like titanium, it cannot be resized.
  • Stainless steel – Stainless steel is the most affordable choice by far. Obviously, it’s pretty durable – think of all the bridges and buildings that are built with steel! If you have issues with nickel, be sure to go with surgical steel.

I know I gave you a lot of comparisons as far as which metals ran white and which ran gray, so here’s a chart to help you see the differences between them all. Frankly, in real life, they all looked pretty close to me.

metal-whiteness-comparison-chart(via Larson Jewelers)

In case you missed it in my above blahblahblah, I am getting my grandmother’s white gold band reset in platinum, in part due to my nickel allergy and in part because my engagement ring is already platinum. Stallion has his heart set on titanium, and he’s leaning towards a black finish. Our jeweler is sending Stallion a selection of titanium rings in his size so he can wear them around the house and see what he likes best, so more to come on that!

What did you choose for your wedding bands? How have they stood the test of time?

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