As Jewelry Shopping Guide editors, we write about things that we love and we think you’ll like too. We often have affiliate partnerships, and may generate some revenue from these links at no cost to you.
Today’s man has a lot more options to choose from when it comes to buying his wedding ring. Now there are over ten types of metals to choose from, various types of finishes, ring profiles, width and prices to consider, that making a choice can be difficult.
This is why we’ve got you covered in this article with a practical guide on the most important factors you need to consider before you purchase your dream ring.
Choosing the Metal
In the past, you had just a few metal choices for your wedding ring – gold, platinum or silver. But today, there are a range of metals that have joined this category. While this gives you a lot more choice, it also makes it very difficult to decide on the right one. Here are the common metal types you’ll encounter in your wedding band search:
Platinum – Rare, hard and lustrous, platinum is among the most expensive and prestigous metals used in jewelry. It is highly durable and is easy to maintain with basic care and occasional repolishing. Platinum rings develop a patina over time which is often considered highly desirable. Platinum is easy to resize and customize.
Yellow Gold – Yellow gold is the traditional choice for wedding bands. Gold is hypoallergenic, durable and prestigious. It can be found in many colors due to plating or alloying. The amount of karatage in the gold impacts on its characteristics. In general, the higher the amount of gold in the metal, the more valuable it is and yet the softer and more malleable it becomes.
White Gold – White gold is very popular and one of the top choices for wedding bands today. White gold is usually rhodium plated to for enhanced durability and reflection. Over time, the ring may require repolishing as the rhodium plating that gives it its reflective sheen tends to wear off with time. White gold is hypoallergenic, durable and, all else being equal, more affordable than platinum.
Rose Gold – Rose gold, which is increasingly used in men’s wedding rings, has a beautiful rosy-champagne color which is attractive and very different. Rose gold wedding bands are stylish and sophisticated but if you feel that an entire ring of rose gold is too much, you could always opt for a rose gold inlay ring or a two-tone ring.
Palladium – This is a relatively new metal that is classified as a precious metal. Palladium is part of the platinum family and is similar in appearance and durability to platinum. It does not require replating and has a naturally lustrous sheen. Palladium is less expensive than platinum making it a great alternative.
Titanium – Extremely strong, lightweight and durable, titanium is a great choice for an active person. Titanium is also hypoallergenic and very affordable with a darker color. While some people don’t like how light titanium rings feel, others prefer this characteristic of the metal. Titanium rings bend but do not break. Titanium rings are difficult to resize.
Tungsten – The hardest metal used for jewelry, tungsten is scratch resistant, hypoallergenic and very, very strong. While this metal does not corrode or bend, it can shatter if dealt a hard blow. Tungsten is very affordable and has a beautiful lustrous appearance. Tungsten rings are also rather heavy and very difficult to resize.
Tantalum – This new kid on the block is rare, hard and malleable, does not shatter and scratch resistant. Tantalum has a beautiful darker color than the other metals and, although somewhat more expensive than the other industrial metals listed here, it is less expensive than the precious metals. Tantalum is hypoallergenic and is often used in surgical and dental devices. It can easily be resized.
Cobalt – Also known as cobalt chrome, cobalt is scratch and crack resistant, highly durable, hypoallergenic and customizable. Cobalt is whiter than most of the other industrial metals and is very close in appearance to white gold.
Carbon Fiber – Technically carbon fiber isn’t a metal. Carbon fiber rings are generally considered more comfortable than other rings and are highly durable. While they do scratch, these marks can easily be polished off. Carbon fiber rings are also non-conductive making them ideal for those working in certain professions (think electrician) however carbon fiber bands are very difficult to resize.
To help you decide when choosing the right metal, here are four main factors to bear in mind:
Men’s wedding rings can range in price from a few dollars to thousands of dollars. So deciding on your budget will help you find the metal choice that falls into that category. If, for example, your maximum budget is $100, you might want to forget about platinum and go for an alternative metal like tungsten, titanium or tantalum.
The most popular colors for men’s wedding bands are yellow gold, silver-hued metals, rose gold and black.
While yellow gold remains the classic color and has traditionally been the metal of choice for wedding bands, today, white gold and platinum have become just as popular.
The classic choice for wedding bands – yellow gold. See this here.
These three are precious metals and have an added prestige and class to them which the newer metals just don’t have. Palladium, similar in appearance to white gold, is also a precious metal but is lesser known than the others and not as expensive.
Platinum is one of the priciest and rarest metals used for wedding bands. See this here.
Rose gold wedding bands for men are having a resurgence in popularity. These have a beautiful rose-champagne color that really stand out. If black is your color, you could opt for a black gold ring, where the yellow gold has been alloyed into a black color or electroplated with rhodium for a black finish. The other more affordable option is to go for an alternative metal such as blackened cobalt, tungsten or titanium.
A blackened cobalt ring is modern and edgy. See it here.
This is one of the most important considerations before you buy your wedding band. The durability of your ring will determine how often you can wear it, how often you’ll have to clean it and if you will need to resize it down the line. Each wedding band metal has its pros and cons in the durability department.
Among the most durable are tungsten, titanium, tantalum and cobalt which are ideal for someone who leads an active life with busy hands. These are also very affordable options but not as prestigious as the classic metals.
Platinum is the most durable of the precious metals but can scratch and over time develops a patina.
With gold, it really depends on the alloy as gold itself is very soft and malleable. The lower the gold purity, the stronger the metal. So for example, a 14k gold ring will be stronger than an 18k ring, while a 9k will be stronger but may not have the color you may be after. While white gold is more affordable than platinum, it also tends to require frequent rhodium plating every year or so.
Durability affects whether or not the metal can be resized. Some metals, such as tungsten, are almost impossible to resize, meaning that as your fingers change in size down the track, you may have to replace the ring altogether. In contrast, gold and platinum are easily resized.
The style you’re after will really impact on the metal you choose. If you want the classic, traditional look, then needless to say, yellow gold will be your best option. Silver-hued metals look more modern and chic while still retaining a classic look. If you want something unique and edgy, then alternative metals will generally be your best bet. Remember that you’ll most likely be wearing this ring every day for the rest of your life, so think long term and choose something you think you’ll be comfortable with down the track.
Width of the Band
You can find men’s wedding rings ranging from 2mm to 9mm, but the average size is around 5mm to 7mm. The width you choose depends on the size of your fingers.
If you have large hands with long fingers, a thicker ring will be proportionate to your hand size. On the other hand, if your hands are average or smaller in size, a thick band will overpower your fingers and may look too chunky.
Try on a few different rings and see which width you think suits you best.
The profile of the ring refers to the shape of the band if viewed via cross-section. This is the overall shape of the band. As the image shows, there are many types of ring profiles and each gives your ring a distinct look.
The full court is the traditional ring profile and is the most common shape. It is often called the most comfortable of the ring profiles due to its rounded edges. The D shape is also highly popular, although it is very different to the full court. It has the fit of a flat profile while still retaining the traditional full court look.
Flat rings have a sturdy, modern look and are the opposite of a full court. These rings generally fit very snugly against your finger but can sometimes be uncomfortable as they tend to catch on objects because they don’t move as easily as the other profiles.
A flat court gives you the comfort of the full court while maintaining the appearance of a flat profile.
To choose the ideal ring profile, it’s best to try on a few different ones and see which feels the most comfortable for you.
Whether you opt for a ready-made ring or a custom-made one, there are a range of styles to choose from. Jewelers now offer a variety of designs which include elaborate detailing, gemstones, carvings and finishes. Here are some of the most popular ring designs for men:
The finish refers to the surface texture of the ring and largely determines the ring’s overall style. Here are the most popular finishes for men’s wedding bands:
High Polish – A high polish finish gives the ring a smooth, shiny look. It is a classic option and the most popular choice. However, a high polish ring will easily show scratches and scuff marks over time, and will require repolishing to keep it looking shiny.
Brushed – A brushed finish gives the ring a matte, textural appearance. Brushed rings are more modern in style and are also probably easier to maintain due to their rougher surface. While you can still see scratch marks, these can blend in more easily into the surface of the ring.
Hammered – Hammered rings look as though they’ve been hammered by the jeweler and not smoothened down. This is a masculine, textured look that is quite attractive in rings. The hammer marks can vary depending on the style, with some being more pronounced and others less conspicuous.
Textured – Textured rings showcase intriguing textures on their surfaces which are more detailed than a matte finish. For example, jewelers may draw inspiration from crackles, ice or tree bark to create nature-inspired and intriguing textures that capture your attention.
Inlay – Inlay rings feature a combination of textures or metals. A common design is to combine a high polish ring with a matte inlay. Another popular choice is to feature wood grain inlay in a wedding band.
Inlay rings are very stylish and the contrast within the ring creates an attractive look. See this ring here.
You can add a bit of sparkle and glamor to a wedding band simply by adding a few gemstones. For men’s wedding rings, diamonds and sapphires are typically the most popular gemstones as they are durable enough for daily wear. In small sizes, these stones are not very pricey but the workmanship can add to the cost.
Three square diamonds set into this white gold band gives a masculine version of the popular three stone ring design. See this ring here.
White diamonds are the typical choice, as they are classic and somewhat traditional in appearance. Black diamonds and black or blue sapphires look more daring and stand out clearly against the metal of the ring, like this one.
Depending on how much sparkle you want, you could opt for something a minimal number of gemstones on your band or have it surrounded with sparkling diamonds like this ring.
However, you don’t have to restrict yourself to diamonds and sapphires only. If you wish to opt for a different type of gemstone, check with your jeweler if you can have this included. Some young couples want to include their birthstones or a gemstone that holds symbolic meaning for them in their rings and your jeweler will let you know how this can be done.
Details make a ring truly yours and allows you to express your personality through your chosen band. There are numerous ways to add a touch of detail for that extra oomph.
Details add personality to a wedding band, making it truly yours. See this unique ring here.
Many men’s wedding bands feature milgrained edges which give a ring a vintage appearance while still maintaining an understated manly look. Another way to add detail is to opt for a unique carving or to include a meaningful engraving on the ring.
Where to Buy Your Wedding Band Online
Searching for a wedding band online will give you competitive prices and a wide array of choice. Most reputable retailers provide excellent after sales service such as 30 day returns or a free resizing (depending on the design of the ring).
On Amazon, you can find rings to suit all tastes and budgets. For example, there are tungsten rings that sell for a few dollars as well as diamond platinum rings that sell for thousands. Just ensure that you do your due diligence and are purchasing from a reputable and honest seller.
Blue Nile has a very good range of competitively priced and high quality men’s wedding rings, including designer rings. Although Blue Nile is known as an online diamond giant, their men’s wedding ring collection is quite extensive and a great place to start looking. Their search filters are also very targeted and make it easier to sift through the collection to find the right ring for you.
James Allen also have a very good range, with a focus on the classics and higher end men’s rings. You can also find a good collection of alternative metals here.