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Traditional & Alternative Metals
There are a lot of metals out there. Let's break them down.
Gold is brittle so every single time you hit your gold ring on something, you lose a microscopic amount of gold from your ring. Over the course of 20 years, there is a good chance that you will need your ring reshanked, which is replacing the underside of the ring. You also lose a little bit of gold every time your ring is polished but polishing at home with a polishing cloth is significantly less abrasive than a professional polishing job at a jeweler. If you keep your gold polished with a cloth at home, you lessen the need for a professional jeweler polishing.
Why is gold mixed with alloys? There are a few reasons. First, 24k gold is really bright, a bit orange, and it's not what most people are used to when they think of gold jewelry. Second, 24k gold is crazy expensive, so adding alloys allows gold jewelry to be more affordable. For instance, 14k gold has about half as much pure gold content as 24k. And third, and probably most important, 24k gold is not durable for everyday wear.
10k - Typically found in commercial-grade jewelry but specifically men’s jewelry because it is bigger and heavier. 10k gold has less gold content causing the other alloys to give the jewelry durability. Sadly, 10k gold is more likely to trigger metal allergies than other karat golds. It is the most diluted alloy of gold allowed to still be called gold. We carry some great 10k jewelry that has a great look without a big price.
14k - Shall we call this the “gold standard”? Most jewelry is 14k because it is a great alloy blend between durability, price, appearance, and purity.
18k - This is usually the purest gold used for everyday wear but it is expensive and easy to scratch. 18k is a great choice for those who have metal allergies as the metal is 75% pure gold.
24k - Popular in China and Eastern markets, you can find 24k gold wedding jewelry, bars, and used in collectible items
Rhodium Plating is an industry-standard for all 14kt white gold items to give a crisp white/silver color. All rhodium plating is subject to wear over time and can cause a white gold item to look a little yellow. Rhodium wear is usually dependent on how often an item is worn and can be subject to the wearer's skin acidity. A local jeweler can re-dip your 14k white gold items for a negligible amount, usually between $20-60, which will make your item look new.
Platinum has been the elite’s metal of choice for centuries because of its durability, beauty, and purity. It is very heavy and is more malleable than gold. A ring made of platinum will weigh about 60% more than the exact same ring made of 14k gold. Instead of breaking off like gold, platinum moves like soft butter when scratched so there’s significantly less wear over time. Platinum is usually stamped Platinum, PT, or Plat will have at least 95% purity. Platinum can also be stamped 950 for 95% purity or 999 for 99.9% purity. Most people do not have metal allergy reactions to platinum because of the purity. Some places will use rhodium plate platinum to remove the slight grayish tint that can occur over time; however, it’s not necessary. A simple polish will return your platinum jewelry back to its silvery sheen.
Silver is a pretty soft metal so typically copper is added to give it strength, becoming Sterling Silver. You’ll see sterling silver marked 925 because there has to be at least 92.5% pure silver in the alloy to be considered “sterling.” Not only will you find sterling silver marked 925, but also Ster or Sterling Silver. Sterling silver has no smell, is not magnetic, and will leave a black mark when rubbed with a white cloth. Sterling silver definitely will tarnish as it’s oxidation (exposure to oxygen). The best way to prevent tarnish is to store your sterling silver in a ziplock bag and/or with an anti-tarnish strip. Removing tarnish is easy with a simple polishing cloth. The Rutile polishing cloth has a coating that helps slow tarnishing but nothing can really “stop” tarnishing aside from preventing the piece from being exposed to oxygen when stored. The surface of a sterling silver piece can become permanently damaged if you leave tarnish on a piece for an extended period of time. Most of the Sterling Silver at TheRutile.com is also rhodium plated to prevent tarnishing which gives a crisp white/silver color.
Tungsten Carbide rings are super hard, a 9 on the Mohs scale, meaning that the only thing that can scratch a tungsten ring is a diamond. It’s two to three times harder than Cobalt Chrome and Titanium. Tungsten bands are about 85% tungsten carbide and 15% nickel which balances brittleness and softness. Tungsten rings are not going to bend or warp, but if you are in an accident with your Tungsten Carbide ring, the material is able to be easily removed by EMS by cracking the ring and probably saving your finger. It’s much easier to remove than gold! It will break if enough force is applied, but it is four times harder than titanium and twice as hard as steel. Tungsten rings have about the same weight as gold and platinum, so you know you’re wearing something substantial. This is also a great alternative for those with gold allergies because tungsten carbide is naturally hypoallergenic, just be mindful of the nickel if you have a nickel allergy. Like most other alternative metals, titanium rings are unable to be sized and lifetime sizing is included with your purchase with TheRutile.com. We highly suggest Tungsten Carbide rings for those who work with their hands and want to wear their everyday wedding band at work because it is so easy to remove in case of an emergency.
You have probably already noticed how cheap titanium rings can be. Titanium is the ninth most abundant element and the seventh most abundant metal on earth. While an ounce of gold is going for about $1800, a whole pound of titanium is around $11. It is also very easy to manufacture and doesn’t require the same refining processes as other metals. While it’s not very expensive, titanium makes for a great ring! Titanium is very lightweight but extremely strong and does not tarnish. Titanium is hypoallergenic and maintains its luster much longer than traditional metals like gold or sterling silver. If you are in an accident with your ring finger, the EMS will need special cutters to remove the ring but this has become more common as titanium rings have increased in popularity. Like most other alternative metals, titanium rings are unable to be sized and lifetime sizing is included with your purchase with TheRutile.com. If you are looking for a ring to be an heirloom piece to hold or increase in value as it is passed through generations, you may need to look for a different metal. If you want a lightweight, durable, and hypoallergenic ring that doesn’t break the bank, titanium is an awesome choice!
You might hear the word Ceramic and think “I’ll break that” but it’s unlikely unless you need to. Ceramic wedding bands are made of titanium carbide, titanium and carbon atoms in the form of a powder that is heated to 1800 degrees Celsius. Ceramic rings are less likely to crack than tungsten carbide rings which can be a pro or con, depending on how you wear your rings. Ceramic rings are lightweight and low maintenance as they do not tarnish and are virtually scratch resistant with a hardness of around 9 on the Mohs scale, with diamond only being harder. These rings will not bend, warp, or crack, making it a popular choice for those who are active with their hands. Ceramic is a great choice for those who cannot wear metal jewelry because it is 100% natural and organic material. It’s not actually metal which means ceramic is a great choice for electricians or those who need their wedding bands to be non-conductive. In case of an emergency, ceramic rings must be shattered to protect the finger, just like tungsten carbide rings which gives an extra sense of security. Sadly, you’ll need a new ceramic ring at the end of it but you’ll still have your finger. Like most other alternative metals, ceramic rings are unable to be sized and lifetime sizing is included with your purchase with TheRutile.com. Ceramic is a great choice for those who want to wear their wedding ring every day, have a metal allergy and want an overall low maintenance ring.
Damascus steel is an ancient metal layering technique used by blacksmiths to create armor, weapons, and decorative items. Damascus steel also has a particularly long and interesting history in Japanese and Viking sword and knifemaking. Swords made of Damascus steel were far superior to iron swords. How awesome is that? While the exact technique of the ancient blacksmiths was a well-guarded secret, current Damascus steel is forged by folding and twisting together different types of stainless steel to create a permanent, almost wood-like appearance. Damascus steel is durable, resisting corrosion and scratching but maintaining some flexibility. There are still centuries-old Damascus steel swords around! However, exposing your Damascus steel ring to saltwater and harsh chemicals can cause the ring to rust. Like most other alternative metals, Damascus steel rings are unable to be sized and lifetime sizing is included with your purchase with TheRutile.com. These rings are a great alternative if you love the look of the twisted metal, love ancient blacksmithing techniques, and love having a great story with your wedding band.
Cobalt chrome is a great alternative for those with metal allergies as they are hypoallergenic and bio-compatible. The metal will not cause irritation or allergic reactions and the metal is used in surgical instruments, dental and joint implants. Cobalt Chrome is significantly harder and more durable than gold, being virtually scratch resistant and requiring no special care as it is an aerospace-grade alloy. Cobalt chrome has a bright and shiny silver luster while feeling like a precious metal. Unlike other alternative metals, Cobalt Chrome is not brittle and will not crack or shatter.
If you have any questions about which metal is right for you, please don't hesitate to reach out.