While traditionally wedding rings tended to be highly polished bands without too much detail, today there are several options to choose from.
Now there is a wide plethora of ring options, both in terms of metals and how those metals are finished, from the traditional and ever-loved high gloss finish through matte, satin, brushed, and hammered variants.
Let’s take a look at various wedding band finishes, and which of these might be the right choice for you.
Why Exactly Does the Finish of Your Ring Matter?
Isn’t a ring finish just a matter of personal choice?
Yes, the style of rings that you and your partner choose is down to your personal preferences.
But assuming no arguments ensue about which is best, it can be overwhelming to differentiate between so many different terms and to decide the finish that is right for both of you. Ring finishes matter because the looks are so different and because they also vary depending on the type of metal you choose.
Each type of ring metal comes with its pros and cons – and not every style will suit everybody. In the list below, we’ll take a look at the most common types of finishes. However, there are many others that aren’t covered in this article, including meteorite rings, inlay rings, mokume gane, and damascus steel rings, as they’re not common and can be impossible to find in most retail stores.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Different Finishes?
High Polish – Classic and Smooth
Great High Polish Metals: Gold, platinum, tungsten, titanium, cobalt
High polish is one of the most traditional looks for a wedding band finish. It gives off a clean, reflective shine and stands out on your finger.
Pros: If you’re looking for a traditional, classic look, then you can’t go wrong with the high polish. It’s plain but stylish and highlights the beauty of the metal with minimal distractions. High-polish rings tend to also be affordable, as they’re no-fuss bands. If you want your ring to be the focal point on your finger, pick a polished band.
Cons: Polished rings can show scratches easily, as there are no patterns to distract the eye. This is especially the case if you choose gold or platinum, as these metals are softer than industrial alternatives. However, if you choose tungsten or titanium, the polish will last a lot longer as these metals are highly scratch resistant.
There’s a reason that polished rings are the most common type. They offer several benefits, from being easily available, affordable, and classic in appearance. If you’re willing to put in the maintenance required (such as periodic polishing) your ring will remain lustrous and stylish.
Matte Finish – Somber but Strong
Great Matte Metals – Titanium, Tungsten, Carbon Fibre
Not everyone wants a lustrous finish on their wedding band, and for those seeking a more minimalist look, a matte finish band might be ideal. A matte finish refers to a ring that’s specially finished to remove the shine. These can be made from any metal but are especially popular among industrial metal rings.
Pros – From an aesthetic perspective, matte rings offer a worthy [and currently fashionable] alternative to traditional and ever-popular shiny metals. A matte finish will symbolize strength and security – excellent motifs for a marriage bond or as a display of masculinity.
Cons – Matte rings don’t provide a high polish, but they might still scratch and tarnish. Even though ‘duller’ metals like titanium and tungsten are renowned for their scratch-resistant and indestructible properties, minor marks that appear can be very difficult, if not impossible, to polish out.
Additionally, aesthetically matte rings’ lack of shine may prove un-ornamental and deficient in the one main area wedding rings are generally expected to triumph: glamor. But a matte ring could form the solid base for jewel adornments or as a combination of matt and gloss duo.
Satin Finish – Luxurious and Dreamlike
Great Satin Metals – White Gold, Platinum
Essentially meeting matte and glossy rings’ looks halfway, a satin finish is polished with a deep lustrous shine but does not reflect like a high polish. You won’t be able to see your face in the reflection, but you’ll still see a cluster of sorts.
Pros –Aside from satin’s deep luster and somewhat dreamlike quality, it makes excellent bedding for engravings, providing the optimal soft/hard contrast to make patterns and jewels stand out.
Cons – Like a fogged-up mirror, a satin ring will be bright and light, but it won’t shine like highly reflective metal finishes. Is this positive or negative? It’s completely a matter of taste.
Satin rings are perfect if you want that eye-catching detail on your ring without going overboard. It gives you the luster and glamor without the traditional high-polish look.
Brushed Finish – Subtle strokes
Great Brushed Metals – White Gold, Rose Gold, Stainless Steel
A brushed finish is similar in levels of shine to a satin finish [see above] but instead of satin’s smooth texture, it has thin wire-like strokes that are barely perceptible.
Pros – For those who prefer their rings on the non-shiny side, a brushed look [like satin] is ideal. And because non-shiny rings are more likely to mark or stain, the brushed effect eradicates that problem by being pre-marked.
Cons – As with a satin finish, the lack of overt shine might be a downside for some. Likewise, the brush effect is a matter of personal taste
Hammered – Artisanal, rugged, reflective
Great Hammered Metals – White Gold, Titanium, Tungsten
A hammered or planished ring [like a smaller indented pebbled ring] is metal that has been hammered with a tool to produce the desired effect.
Pros – A novelty style with a genuine artisanal appeal, a hammered ring draws attention to itself and is also great at reflecting light at different angles. In non-shiny metals, it looks rugged and strong, like it’s been hand forged.
Cons – Hammered rings can look quite severe, especially if a large hammer is applied to a slim ring. Conversely, many smaller hammer marks on a wider ring, known as a pebbled effect, can look overly ornate.
Hammered rings are especially popular among men, but there are also stylish hammered rings for women that are subtle and feminine. Wedding ring sets, like this one, showcase how this detail works for both male and female rings.
Sandblast Finish – Tough Beauty
Great Sandblast Metals – Tungsten, Stainless Steel
One of the more interesting finishes to a ring, sandblasting – whereby sand is literally blasted at high pressure onto the surface of a ring – creates a frosted approach, as though the ring has been covered with a thin layer of ice crystals
Pros – A real novelty head turner, and ideal for anyone who likes textured finishes. It has a rough look but is also eye-catching texturally and stylish.
Cons – This finish is very coarse to the touch. Sandblast may also prove a little too frosty for some, and in gold or silver variants – metals that are naturally inclined to a healthy shine, you’re forfeiting that shine in a sandblasted effect. Similarly, a stone finish, with an even rougher effect, is very hard to the touch.
Which of These Finishes Should You Choose?
As we’ve already mentioned, it comes down to your personal preference, and which you think is the right choice for you.
Having said that, there are some other considerations that could help you decide.
For example, how active is your lifestyle? If you’re someone who uses their hands a lot, chances of a high polish ring remaining lustrous and unscratched are low. In this case, choosing a finish like sandblasted, hammered, or matte can minimize noticeable scratches.
You should also consider your budget, as certain finishes can cost more than others. If budget is of the utmost importance, then this will be the main selection criteria.
There are many wedding ring finishes that you can choose from these days, each offering various advantages and disadvantages. By understanding your preferences, budget, and lifestyle, you will be able to choose the right ring finish for you.