The first occurrence of rings exchanged between couples dates back to ancient Egypt. Scrolls dating back more than 3000 years depict reeds braided together to form a band. The bands symbolized eternal commitment and undying love. Ancient Rome also had a tradition that was very similar to the ceremonial exchange of rings today; couples presented one another with iron forged into a band.
In modern times, iron is not the most popular choice of wedding band material. Individuals, men, in particular, want a band that is affordable, durable, and stylish. Traditional golds, yellow, rose and white, are prone to showing wear and tear. Platinum, a stronger alternative, is especially pricey. Trendy silicone bands are inexpensive but designed to tear away under force, making them short-lived.
Fortunately, tungsten carbide checks all three boxes as the best overall material for a wedding band. Stainless steel is a close second, offering contemporary design at low cost. Below we will cover why tungsten and stainless steel are superior in the following categories:
- Pros and Cons (not many!)
- Ease of Care and Maintenance
Throughout history, it was commonly only the woman who wore a wedding band. The popularity of men’s wedding bands grew when servicemen wore them as a memento around the time of World War II. In the twenty-first-century men’s wedding bands are still just as sought after and are expected to weather the elements.
Tough and Trendy - Tungsten
Tungsten is a trendy alternative to the classic materials used for bands. Sought after for its durability and strength, tungsten is extremely heavy-duty. The metal “known as one of the toughest things found in nature” derives its reputation from its high melting point and density.
Out of all the elements, Tungsten can withstand the hottest temperatures. It also can withstand the greatest amount of tension, a rating known as tensile strength. Astonishingly, pure tungsten is exceptionally soft. It becomes dense when mixed with other compounds forming an alloy.
They use tungsten carbide is used to make machine parts and tools such as drill bits and saw blades. When jewelers form tungsten carbide into wedding bands, the rings are made to last a lifetime. The bands are scratch-resistant, anti-corrosive, and resistant to bending.
Traditional metals on the other hand, such as gold variations, are soft in nature. They are prone to scratching and becoming deformed. Yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold rank significantly lower in durability than tungsten.
Aside from its strength when compared to traditional metals, it is also unique in appearance. This modern metal comes in different shades ranging from a white-silver to black. The color depends on the finish, whether it is polished or brushed.
White tungsten can resemble platinum, while the darkest tungsten is a sleek and masculine charcoal. Trade a gleaming polish for a contemporary matte with brushed tungsten. Coatings can also change the color of the metal; black zirconium coated tungsten is inky, while gold zirconium coated tungsten results in a lustrous gold band.
Though tungsten is quite strong, the chosen finish can be prone to wear and tear. Natural oils will cause brushed finishes to darken over time. Coated rings can become scratched and faded, requiring occasional refinishing.
Polished tungsten is the most resilient and long-lasting of all the finishes. It is very reflective and silvery-white in appearance. Traditional polished tungsten bands perfectly portray gleaming steel.
Grooms with an allergy or hypersensitivity will not have an issue with a tungsten ring, as the metal is considered hypoallergenic.
For a small additional fee, you can customize your tungsten wedding band. It is false that these bands cannot be engraved, tungsten can be laser engraved with any symbolic design of your choosing. You can also give your band a unique look by choosing a two-tone tungsten ring or selecting one with intricate inlay.
Tungsten has many great characteristics, leaving most to suspect an exorbitant price-tag. Thankfully, tungsten carbide wedding bands are surprisingly affordable. High-quality tungsten will be priced at only a couple hundred dollars, compared to a couple thousand dollars for a platinum band.
Consider this a rather small investment in a piece of jewelry that can withstand your daily activities and remain looking great for years to come.
Stylish and Sustainable - Stainless Steel
If you are on board with all the characteristics of tungsten, but finding it is still a step outside of your price range, consider stainless steel. Stainless steel bands offer the classic look of sterling silver at a lower price point.
Stainless steel is also an alloy, fusing iron, nickel, and chromium to the element in order to make it “stainless”. The resulting product is corrosion resistant.
Because of this resistance stainless steel is used in a variety of items that are regularly exposed to tough conditions. They manufacture construction and medical equipment out of stainless steel. The metal does not corrode or tarnish with time.
The use of stainless steel on the exterior of homes speaks to the metal’s strength and durability. A stainless steel wedding band will not be as vibrant as sterling silver, but it will last longer. It is resistant to scratching and bending under pressure during daily use.
Stainless steel is enduring and tough, but this does not translate to heavy. It is a light metal and will result in a comfortable wedding band.
Sterling silver, unlike stainless steel, has rhodium plating on the outside. This means it is susceptible to corrosion and tarnishing and will have to be re-plated as often as every few months. Similarly, white gold can change color over time, becoming increasingly yellow.
Another positive aspect of stainless steel is its recyclability. Alloying the metals is eco-friendly, with lower waste output and energy usage compared to other metals.
If job safety is a concern, you don’t have to settle for a silicone band. Stainless steel is not adept at conducting heat and electricity, keeping you safe on the job site. Though resilient, in the case of an accident stainless steel rings can be removed using standard removal tools.
Unlike platinum or gold, a stainless steel wedding band is an inexpensive option. These attractive bands typically have a price that is well under one hundred dollars, and thanks to its long-lasting properties it is unlikely that you will need to purchase a new ring within your lifetime.
With stainless steel’s affordability, you should be able to splurge on personalization. Stainless steel can be laser engraved and bands come in many designs. Add some gems or stones to create an alluring one of a kind ring.
A Few Minor Concerns
Tungsten and stainless steel have some drawbacks. However, they are likely not enough to dissuade you from the fact that these two metals are the top choices for wedding band material.
Tungsten, though nearly indestructible, is considered brittle. The traits that cause gold to bend, its malleability, are not found in tungsten. The harder and stronger a metal, the more prone it is to shatter.
Smashing or dropping a tungsten band will render it unwearable as the metal is likely to crack. Its strength also means a jeweler cannot repair or resize the ring.
Unlike stainless steel, a tungsten band is not feather light. The metals are dense and heavy, leaving your wedding band feeling weighty and solid. Some gentlemen don’t mind this, others may find it annoying.
A shared commonality between tungsten and stainless steel is their inability to be modified. Stainless steel cannot be repaired or resized. However, this may never be an issue, as not everyone’s finger changes size as they age.
Like Superman, stainless steel has a kryptonite. The metals weakness comes in the form of chlorine. Chlorine is intensely corrosive and may discolor your ring. As long as you remove it prior to a dip in the pool, you have nothing to fear.
Even though tungsten and stainless steel have a few negatives, they are both an excellent metal for the price. Unlike traditional metals such as gold or platinum that are costly and still have some downsides, the pros of tungsten and stainless steel outweigh the cons.
Caring for and Maintaining Your Band
Unlike other metals that require refinishing and professional jeweler preservation, maintenance for tungsten and stainless steel is minimal. To prevent damage to your ring, you should take a few precautions.
Both metals can be affected by harsh chemicals such as chlorine. It is important to take your ring off prior to swimming and before using any corrosive cleaners or substances.
Cleaning your tungsten band is simple and can be done with warm water and detergent-free soap. Your ring can be polished with a special cloth but as it is scratch resistant, this will not need to be done frequently.
Caring for a stainless steel band is just as easy. Soap and water will provide gentle cleaning and a polishing cloth can be used to keep up the band’s shine. Stores also have stainless steel specific cleaners available for purchase.
As a preventative measure, store your tungsten or stainless steel wedding band in its own cloth pouch when it is not being worn. If your band sustains any major damage, a professional jeweler should inspect it.
A Long Lasting Marriage and an Equally Enduring Ring
Unlike traditional golds, tungsten and stainless steel wedding bands are exceedingly durable and strong. These scratch-resistant and warp-proof rings are made to last you a lifetime. These qualities do not equate to a hefty price tag, unlike traditional metals.
Both tungsten and stainless steel are very affordable, leaving room in your precious budget for customization. By selecting one of these great metals for your ring, you will have a memento of your love to last you as long as your marriage.