Differences Between Jewelry Metal Types (Part 2)

Posted on Wednesday, September 30th, 2015 in Informational.

Last week we discussed the major differences between the three most commonly used fine jewelry metals: platinum, gold, and sterling silver. With these three metals being so popular, many people tend to ignore some of the lesser known metals including stainless steel, titanium, tungsten carbide, and cobalt. However, these alternative metals are lightweight, modern-looking and extremely durable. Because of this, they have become a popular choice for men’s wedding bands. Below, we’ll discuss some of the benefits and drawbacks of these four alternative jewelry metals.

Appearance: Cobalt features a white reflective color that closely resembles white gold and platinum. Tungsten carbide features a dark grey color with a brilliant, hard-looking shine. Titanium jewelry can be found in a wide variety of colors due to the anodizing process used to create the piece, but is most commonly seen in a light grey color. Stainless steel, which has an appearance similar to that of silver, can actually be polished to take on different looks, ranging from a matte to a reflective look. One of the benefits of stainless steel is that unlike silver, it won’t tarnish.

Durability: All four metals have extremely high durability and are less likely to scratch compared to gold or platinum. Tungsten carbide is the most scratch resistant of the four followed by cobalt and then titanium. If you’re looking for a metal that will not scratch, we suggest avoiding titanium. When choosing between the metals, it’s very important to keep in mind that titanium, stainless steel, and tungsten carbide rings cannot be sized whereas cobalt can.

Hypoallergenic: Both stainless steel and titanium jewelry are hypoallergenic. Cobalt jewelry can also by hypoallergenic, but only if it doesn’t contain nickel. Tungsten carbide jewelry usually contains small traces of nickel, but will usually not cause an allergic reaction. However, if your tungsten jewelry piece contains cobalt, it may cause some skin irritation. The reason this occurs has to do with how the molecules in the metal react and bind to one another.

Affordability: The price of each metal varies depending on the style of each jewelry piece but generally the least expensive metal between the four is stainless steel, followed by titanium and then tungsten carbide. Cobalt wedding rings are just a bit more expensive than the other three metals.