Alternative Metals : What You Need To Know
If you know anything about jewelry or its components, you’ll probably heard of gold (in its multiple colors) and platinum. In fact, if you’d like to learn a bit more about these metals, read our blog entry on them!
However, there are also other types of metal that are less common in jewelry—we call these alternative metals. These have different properties that make them a popular choice for men’s jewelry. Keep reading to learn more about what makes these alternative metals unique.
Unlike other metals such as gold (under 24k) titanium is not an alloy—which means that your titanium jewelry isn’t mixed with other metals. Because of this, it is hypoallergenic! In addition, it is very light, with the highest strength to weight ratio of any metal. Titanium is a grey color and is completely shatterproof. It can be scratched, but can also easily be restored to its original luster without difficulty. However, because it is such a tough metal, titanium rings cannot be resized like traditional jewelry metals.
Like titanium, cobalt is also completely shatterproof. In fact, it’s 4 times harder than platinum, and 5 times harder than gold. It is also similar in its scratch resistance and hypoallergenic properties! However, unlike titanium, cobalt is alloyed with other metals such as chromium to add luster. Because of this, it serves as a cost-effective alternative to platinum. Another popular choice for cobalt jewelry is a black DLC coating, which is very scratch resistant (but not scratch proof.) Like titanium, it cannot be resized due to the nature of the metal.
This very heavy alternative metal is created through a process of combining equal parts of tungsten and carbon atoms. Because the alloy contains trace amounts of nickel, it is not considered hypoallergenic. This dark grey—or gunmetal—colored metal is more brittle than its alternative counterparts, which makes it more susceptible to chipping. While it’s unlikely to scratch, it can easily be returned to its natural form. Tungsten carbide cannot be resized due to the properties of the metal, but can be removed in an emergency situation with an alternative metal cutter.
When looking for jewelry—especially something important such as a wedding ring—it’s important to learn as much about the piece as possible before purchasing. When you meet with a jewelry professional to discuss options, be sure to ask questions: ESPECIALLY when it comes to alternative metals. Try on several different options so you can be sure you like how the jewelry feels to wear.