Precious Metals
gold shot ready for alloying melting gold and pouring an ingot white gold rings
When making engagement or wedding rings from scratch, your choice of metal is the first step in the design process. I recommend using one of the four precious metals listed above, and have listed brief descriptions of the metals below.

I teach private jewelry-making workshops for clients who are interested in making wedding or engagement rings, together, with their own hands. All three photos above are from the same class in which we alloyed white gold to form simple bands. We can also begin with a finished alloy, which will save time and cost less.

Gold Rings
Gold has been a favorite jewelry metal for thousands of years. It is one of few metals that is found pure in nature, hence was the first metal used by humans. Its malleability allowed ancient civilizations to create fantastic adornments... and we continue to do so today.

Gold is still by far the most popular metal worldwide for wedding rings. We use mostly 18k alloys of gold in my studio because of their superior color, workability, and higher gold content. I also enjoy using 22k or 24k gold for its rich color, malleability and softness, and resistance to oxidation for customers wishing to start from scratch by melting the gold and pouring an ingot themselves.

Gold can be alloyed into multiple shades of color without losing its beauty and shine. The 18k gold alloy colors available to use in our workshops are white, yellow, pink, red, green, and peach. 22k gold is available in green, yellow, and red. We can also create boutique alloys such 23k yellow, 20k white, or pale pink.

Eco-Gold Rings
In light of environmental neglect on the part of much of the mining industry, as well as poor treatment of miners and surrounding communities, a movement has begun to reduce the environmental impact of the precious metals in jewelry. More aggressive recycling, monitoring mining companies' practices, and educating consumers are at the core of the movement.

Eco-gold is the term used for gold that is obtained from low impact sources. Most often, it is recycled from old jewelry or scrap from jewelry manufacturers. It is sometimes obtained from mining companies that adhere to stricter environmental and safety standards.

On average, the gold, platinum, palladium, and silver I use in my studio is 99% recycled. All of my customers receive recycled materials. . . you don't have to ask. There is a rare exception for a few items that I cannot obtain from eco-certified sources. I notify customers ahead of time when their designs require the use materials from one of these suppliers. There is usually no cost premium to use eco-gold, recycled platinum, or recycled palladium.

Platinum Rings
My favorite quality of platinum - and my customers agree - is the fantastic brightness it emits while brazing at 3000° Fahrenheit.

A platinum wedding ring is more durable than gold, and has a heavier, more substantial feel. Platinum carries a certain level of prestige over gold.

Platinum's high density as compared with 18k gold means that more platinum is used in a wedding ring of the same size, so the volume of the ring you design will have a significant impact on the total price.

I charge a flat fee for workshops and a low metals markup. Resultantly, there is generally a smaller price premium to making a platinum wedding ring in my shop vs. purchasing one from a store.

I mostly use a 950 alloy (95% platinum) in wedding and engagement rings. I occasionally use a more malleable 900 alloy for more difficult designs.

Recycled platinum is available for those who are environmentally inclined. Our wedding rings are not plated with Rhodium.

Palladium Rings
Palladium wedding rings have become widely available only in the last few years due to a sharp drop in price as compared to platinum. Palladium is a member of the platinum family of metals and was used for jewelry in the 1940's when platinum was unavailable for jewelry use.

Palladium has the similar light weight as silver and is whiter in color than either platinum or white gold. It is hypoallergenic.

While palladium is most similar in working properties to platinum, it is a little softer and much less expensive. Palladium can also be alloyed with gold to form high-quality white gold.

Although palladium is nearly unheard of outside jewelry circles, it is an excellent jewelry metal. Its low cost makes it ideal for wedding rings.

Palladium's major disadvantage is that it absorbs oxygen from the air when molten. For this reason, we cannot melt palladium in my workshop and the solders we use are slightly visible in the seams. For a heavy ring, it is well worth the cost savings. On average, palladium wedding rings cost one thousand dollars less per pair as compared to platinum.

For customers on a tighter budget, palladium wedding rings are the clear choice.

Mokume Gane Rings
This is great stuff. A billet of fused layers of precious metal can be twisted and formed into amazing patterns. It has a life of its own and each finished ring is unique.

Metal color options are:

Yellow Gold & Palladium
Red, Yellow, and White Gold
White Gold & Sterling Silver
Red Gold & Sterling Silver
Yellow Gold & Sterling Silver
Sterling w/ Yellow & White Gold
Sterling w/ Red & White Gold
Sterling w/ Yellow & Red Gold

The cost of the gold and silver mokume is similar to the price of 18k gold. However, more labor goes into making mokume wedding rings. A finished pair will generally cost more than gold rings.

We can make several patterns of mokume gane wedding rings in the studio, including a star, random, seuss, and stripes at different angles. Each billet is handmade so each ring's pattern is unique. While we can usually create stars and stripes reliably, each billet is a little different, and the patterns will vary from ring to ring.

Other Materials

High precious metal prices and increased market volatility have led manufacturers to begin production of wedding rings from less expensive metals. These alternative metals are becoming more popular.

If you are considering purchasing an alternative metal wedding ring, make sure it can be resized. Most peoples' fingers change in size throughout their lifetimes. A wedding ring that does not fit is never a good value.

You can scroll down for brief info on:
Silver Rings
Damascus Rings
Titanium Rings
Tungsten Rings
Stainless Steel Rings
Ceramic Rings
Cobalt Chrome Rings
Zirconium Rings
Wood Rings
Tattoo Rings

Silver Rings

Silver is the whitest of the jewelry metals and holds the most brilliant luster when polished. While rings that are worn regularly rarely tarnish, they do lose their luster quickly. The copper in sterling makes silver rings slightly less comfortable than gold.

Some religions prescribe silver wedding rings in certain cases.

While I love silver jewelry, I do not recommend silver for my wedding ring workshops unless you want silver for a very specific reason. The silver for a pair of wedding rings will cost less than $30, and it doesn't make sense to pay the cost of a workshop for rings of such low value.

However, for shoppers on a budget, silver offers one of the best mixes of beauty and low cost of any metals available. While silver costs much more per ounce than titanium, steel, chrome, zirconium, or tungsten, finished silver wedding rings tend to be less expensive due to the abundance of silver jewelry manufacturers worldwide.

While I do not sell handmade silver wedding rings, they offer an excellent value for those on a strict budget.

Damascus Steel Wedding Rings

Damascus steel is made from multiple fused layers of different grades of steel. These layers can be twisted and formed much like mokume gane to create fascinating patterns in the surface of the metal. Originally developed to utilize the advantages of multiple alloys of steel to create superior weapons, damascus is used only ornamentally today.

While the raw materials in Damascus steel wedding rings cost far less than the precious metals in mokume gane, there is still a great deal of labor that goes into making a ring through this process. Expect damascus wedding rings to cost much less than mokue rings, yet significantly more than stainless steel wedding rings.

Owners of damascus wedding rings can prevent rust by wearing their rings regularly. The oils from your skin will serve as a protective barrier for a lifetime of use. However, should a damascus ring should be treated if unworn to prevent rust.

Damascus is more difficult to resize than precious metal, but it can be resized.

If you are interested in Damascus wedding rings, please contact me. I plan on selling damascus rings in summer '12.

Titanium Rings
I occasionally get inquires about making titanium wedding rings. Titanium is not very malleable, so wedding rings in titanium are usually machined, requiring less hands-on workmanship.

I do not recommend titanium wedding rings because they cannot be resized. However, if you are not sentimental about wedding rings, they are so affordable that you can buy a new one if your size changes.

Many people have the misconception that titanium is the hardest, most durable metal. While titanium is extremely durable for its weight, it is softer than steel and scratches. Titanium rings CAN be easily cut and removed in the event of an emergency.

While I do not currently offer titanium wedding ring workshops in New York, we do offer titanium workshops in San Francisco.

You should be able to buy manufactured titanium wedding rings for as little as $15.

Tungsten Rings
Tungsten carbide wedding rings have been growing in popularity. They are promoted as virtually indestructible, highly scratch resistant, and they will last forever - like your relationship.

I do not recommend tungsten wedding rings because they cannot be resized. However, if you are not sentimental about wedding rings, they are so affordable that you can buy a new one if your size changes.

Occasionally, people have accidents that cause their fingers to swell. Tungsten carbide is harder than the steel cutters that most hospital emergency rooms use to remove rings from swollen fingers. Not all ER doctors know how to remove a tungsten ring.

I have read claims that you can lose your finger if a tungsten ring gets stuck on your finger in an accident. This is fear-marketing BS. You will be just fine, as long as you educate yourself on safe removal in the event of an accident. Look for safe removal instructions on You Tube.

You should be able to buy manufactured tungsten wedding rings for as little as $20.

Stainless Steel Rings

Stainless Steel's low price compared to precious metal has spurred an increase in popularity.

I do not recommend stainless steel wedding rings because they are difficult to resize. However, if you are not sentimental about wedding rings, they are so affordable that you can buy a new one if your size changes.

Stainless steel can be hand-formed and, as a result, many independent artists offer beautiful stainless steel rings. While I don't recommend them for wedding ring use, you will find much cooler design options in steel than in titanium or tungsten.

Ceramic Rings

I have been seeing many more ceramic watches and rings for sale lately. They are made from a lightweight, hard ceramic that is extremely scratch resistant. I am very pleased with my black ceramic ring with a fiberglass inlay.

I do not recommend ceramic wedding rings because they cannot be resized. However, if you are not sentimental about wedding rings, they are so affordable that you can buy a new one if your size changes.

Ceramic rings, however, are far less expensive than precious metal rings, so for those of you who will not hold sentimental attachment to the ring you get married in, you can purchase an original ring and a replacement for far less than the cost of a gold or platinum wedding ring.

I do recommend ceramic as a wedding ring for electricians, as ceramic is non-conductive. However, one should not be wearing rings at all while using power tools, and many electricians simply remove their rings while at work.

Occasionally, people have accidents that cause their fingers to swell. Ceramic, like tungsten carbide, is harder than the steel cutters that most hospital emergency rooms use to remove rings from swollen fingers. Not all ER doctors know how to remove a ceramic ring.

If you buy a ceramic wedding ring, make sure to educate yourself on safe removal in the event of an accident.

Cobalt Chrome Rings

Cobalt Chrome is one of the newest additions to men's wedding ring metal alternatives. Harder than gold, platinum, and titanium, cobalt wedding rings are very light weight for their strength.

I do not recommend cobalt wedding rings because they cannot be resized. However, if you are not sentimental about wedding rings, they are so affordable that you can buy a new one if your size changes.

It is a white metal with a similar hue to stainless steel, but lighter in weight. Cobalt chrome is used mostly in medical implants as well as turbine engines, it is hypoallergenic and durable, but far lighter and more malleable than a tungsten wedding ring.

If you are interested in cobalt wedding rings, please contact me. I plan on selling cobalt chrome wedding rings in summer '12.

Zirconium Rings

Zirconium is a transition metal element that is used mostly for its heat-resistant properties. It is used in the creation of many hard white ceramics, crucibles for high-temperature melting, as well as in nuclear reactors. I occasionally use zirconium oxide paint to line my melting crucibles. However, zirconium is rarely used industrially in its metal form.

Zirconium is harder than gold and platinum but not as strong as steel. If heated properly, zirconium will develop a hard, scratch-resistant black oxide layer, hence one will often see black zirconium wedding rings for sale. I am currently researching the durability of this oxide layer, and may begin offering zirconium rings in summer '12.

I do not recommend zirconium wedding rings because they cannot be resized. However, if you are not sentimental about wedding rings, they are so affordable that you can buy a new one if your size changes.

I cannot talk about zirconium as an alternative wedding ring metal without clarifying some public misconceptions:

Zirconium is an element (Zr) most widely known to the public in the form of Cubic Zirconia (ZrO2), or CZ, the most commonly used diamond substitute.

Zircon, is a natural gemstone with the chemical formula ZrSiO4. Large crystals of good color and high clarity are rare, beautiful, and rather expensive.

Zirconium, (Zr) is found in rocks all over the earth, including stones such as granite and sand in certain parts of the world.

If you are interested in zirconium wedding rings, please contact me. I may begin selling zirconium wedding rings in April '12.

Wood Rings
Wood rings have been touted lately as an eco-friendly alternative to gold rings.

I do not recommend wood wedding rings because they cannot be resized.

I do not recommend wood wedding rings because they are not durable and can split and discolor. Tiffany offered the Frank Gehry Torque Ring in wood, but discontinued it because of the number of complaints and returns. It's too bad, because I really wanted one of those torque rings in ebony.

Tattoo Rings

Some folks get ring tattoos, rather than wear physical rings.

Tattoo wedding rings are bad ass. You don't have to take them off when operating heavy machinery. They don't get lost. Get one, now.

... and if you get tired of them, you can hide them with gold wedding rings!