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Men's Wedding Bands: How to Choose the Perfect Wedding Ring
As long as you know what you’re doing and are equipped with the right information, buying the perfect men’s wedding band can be a breeze.
The hardest choice you have to make it which metal is best. Then after that, the next important choice is choosing the style that best represents you.
This guide is designed to make this process both simple and clear-cut.
Shopping for men's wedding bands can be a lot easier than trying to find a woman's wedding ring, but there are still a lot of details you need to take into account. Below, we'll get into the various types of metals (traditional and contemporary) used for men's wedding bands, looking at the pros and cons of each.
We'll also give you a lot of tips on how to choose the wedding band, including what to consider for the details, finish, sizes, and more. By the end of this guide, you'll be able to walk into any wedding ring store and quickly find the perfect wedding band for you.
Wedding Band Metals
Wedding bands are traditionally made out of gold (mostly yellow gold), but contemporary wedding rings come in metals ranging from platinum to palladium to ceramic to titanium. You'd be amazed by how many different metals there are to choose from.
Let's take a look at the most common metals first:
Gold is the go-to because it's a metal that only increases in value, rarely decreases. While yellow gold is the most common choice, you can also opt for rose gold or white gold (not the same as platinum).
Most gold wedding bands come in 18K (karats), because copper, palladium, and/or silver are mixed in to make the ring hard enough to withstand daily wear and tear.
Remember that gold is a soft metal, so a pure 24K gold ring would be malleable and easily scratched and damaged.
Thus, it's very unlikely you'll find a wedding band with more than 18K gold.
Let's look at the pros and cons of gold:
- Easily available everywhere; definitely the most popular choice for men's wedding bands
- Not the priciest of the precious metals—others, like platinum or palladium, tend to cost more
- Comes in a wide range of karat options. For lower-budget rings, you can find 10K and 14K rings that contain less gold, but still look beautiful
- Scratch-resistant. Due to the fact that gold rings are made with other metals mixed in, they tend to be resistance to damage
- Moderately hypoallergenic. Gold allergies are more common than expected (one study found 9.5% of patients had an allergic reaction), but many gold rings come with a plating that reduces allergy risk
- Not the most durable. Higher-karat rings (above 18K) are prone to damage, wear, and tear from everyday use
- Some gold rings require a special plating to maintain their luster and shine
- The price of gold has risen drastically in the last few years. A gold wedding band is now fairly pricey.
Gold is a reliable choice, and it's one of the options you want to consider when shopping for a wedding band.
Tungsten carbide rings (also known as simply tungsten rings) are make up of another exceptionally strong material that does an amazing job resisting scratches and damage. The rings don’t tarnish and have a weight very similar to gold.
Tungsten wedding bands are hypoallergenic and (perhaps the coolest thing) are practically impossible to scratch. This is one of the fastest growing categories of men’s wedding bands due to both this and their affordability.
You also have the option of choosing a gold or silver inlay inside of your tungsten ring. This allows for a more luxurious look but at a fraction of the cost of a pure gold or silver ring.
Let's look at the pros and cons of tungsten wedding bands:
- Scratch-resistant and highly durable (stays looking awesome forever)
- Comes in a wide range of colors and styles
- Very affordable
- Doesn't lose its lustrous finish over the years
- Feels heavy and substantial, like gold
- Rings cannot be resized once cast
- If dropped or subjected to pressure, the ring may fracture or shatter
- Colors are only coated atop the metal. Tungsten has a natural gray color
A good choice if you want an inexpensive and highly durable wedding band but you are not as concerned about having a luxurious look that some of the other contemporary metals offer.
Ceramic is the "new kid on the block", and has really only been used for wedding bands the last decade or two. It's a low-budget, scratch-resistant material that can be made to look beautiful, but without the luxurious appearance of gold.
Ceramic rings can come in a broad range of colors: black, white, and everything in between. The colors are consistent throughout the ring, not just glazed onto the top. Ceramic is a comfortable, hypoallergenic material that won't cause negative skin reactions.
Let's look at the pros and cons of ceramic:
- Inexpensive. If you don't have a lot of money for a wedding band, ceramic is a very low-budget option.
- Scratch-resistant. It's incredibly difficult to scratch a ceramic ring, so you won't have to worry about it being scratched during your day to day use.
- Long-lasting luster. The coating on the ceramic will hold its sheen forever, and there is no risk of tarnish, stain, or corrosion.
- Not the most durable material. Ceramic is much more brittle than other metals. This makes it more scratch resistant, but it can fracture or even shatter if dropped.
- Ceramic rings, unlike metal rings, can't be resized.
If you're looking to go WAY cheap, ceramic is a good choice.
Palladium is a metal in the platinum family, but it's significantly cheaper—making it a good low-budget option within the precious metals family.
Palladium rings have a natural white color and a beautiful sheen that doesn't tarnish or require re-plating after years of use. The metal is durable and requires very little maintenance.
If you're considering platinum but can't afford the very high price tag, you may want to look into this alternative.
Let's look at the pros and cons of palladium:
- Highly durable and long-lasting; the ring will maintain its original weight over its lifetime, and it is built to withstand a lot of daily use.
- Affordable, or at least more affordable than white gold and platinum.
- Hypoallergenic, with very little risk of causing contact dermatitis and other skin conditions (a common problem with gold).
- Like with platinum, scratches won't cause the metal to shift or flake, leading to loss of metal. Instead, the palladium will simply be displaced or shifted aside, so the weight will remain the same.
- Resistant to rust, stains, tarnish, and corrosion.
- The ring will not lose its high sheen, and it doesn't require a special finish to make it beautiful.
- Like platinum, palladium is a metal that is easily scratched.
For those who want to avoid the classic gold wedding band but can't afford the high price tag of platinum, palladium is an excellent lower-budget option to consider.
Silver is another classic precious metal that has been used for rings for thousands of years. Though it's a much more "common" metal, it's an alternative for people looking for low-budget rings.
The cost of silver is significantly lower than that of gold:
- Silver tends to range from $15 to $45 per ounce.
- Gold tends to range from $1,000 to $1,400 per ounce.
As you can imagine, silver wedding bands are significantly cheaper.
Silver has a beautiful shine to it, but it tarnishes a lot more easily than gold—one of the primary reasons why it's not used in wedding rings.
Let's look at the pros and cons of silver:
- Durable. Silver is fairly scratch-resistant and can handle a lot more wear and tear than gold.
- Inexpensive. A beautiful silver wedding band will cost a fraction of what you'd pay for gold or platinum.
- Hypoallergenic. Unless you're a vampire, you run a very low risk of being allergic to silver. However, there's a chance you'll be allergic to the nickel that's mixed in with the silver (just .005%, but it's enough to trigger a skin reaction).
- Prone to tarnish and stains. Unfortunately, silver isn't resistant to built-up tarnish, and it can stain if it comes in contact with the wrong chemicals.
- Cheap. A silver wedding band doesn't have the elegant, costly look of a gold one, and some people find it just looks cheap.
If you're trying to shop on a shoestring budget, silver is a decent option to consider. For those with a bit more to spend, opt for gold, platinum, or another higher-end metal.
The four metals listed above are the more "traditional" precious metals used for wedding bands. However, contemporary wedding bands can be made from a surprisingly broad range of metals: from ceramic to tungsten carbide to steel.
Let's dive into these different types of metals to find out what makes them a good/bad option for your wedding rings.
Titanium is a metal most commonly associated with the construction of aircraft, cars, and medical equipment. As you can imagine, it's one of the most durable metals around.
It's not as heavy as white gold or platinum and has a slightly darker color, but you'll find that it's incredibly resistant to scratches and damage.
Titanium is also a hypoallergenic material, meaning those with sensitivities to gold or silver can wear titanium wedding bands without worrying about negative reactions.
Let's look at the pros and cons of titanium:
- Lightweight but VERY strong. It weighs less than aluminum (a very lightweight metal) but is stronger and more durable than steel.
- Comes in a wide range of styles. In fact, you'll find more styles of titanium rings than any other metal. Its durability makes it much more versatile!
- Comfortable, lightweight, and easy to wear.
- The metal has a naturally grey finish.
- Not too pricey. It's one of the more expensive of the contemporary metals, but not as costly as traditional precious metals.
- The metal is prone to showing signs of wear. However, the good news is that any scratches and tarnish can be polished off, making the ring look good as new.
- Sadly, titanium rings cannot be re-sized. You're stuck with the same ring size for the rest of your life.
The appearance of titanium is beautiful—on par with silver—but the metal offers a durability you won't find anywhere else. Definitely a good option for a rough and rugged type of man.
Cobalt chrome is a naturally white metal. In fact, it's the whitest of the contemporary metals, making it appear very close to proper white gold. It weighs about the same as gold, and it has a very high luster that will last a long time.
Cobalt rings also durable and resilient, with a scratch-resistance that will outperform most of the precious metals. It looks and feels like white gold, but costs significantly less.
Let's look at the pros and cons of cobalt chrome:
- Hypoallergenic. Unlike with gold, there is very little risk of contact dermatitis with cobalt chrome.
- High natural luster. Not only is the metal very lustrous, but the luster will last longer than any other contemporary metal.
- Scratch-resistant, shatterproof, hard, and resilient. It's definitely one of the most durable metals for wedding bands!
- Weighs almost as much as gold, so it feels solid on your finger.
- Rings made of cobalt chrome cannot be re-sized.
Cobalt chrome is a good option if you're looking for a cheaper alternative to white gold and platinum.
Platinum offers the high value of and beauty gold but adds another important element: durability.
Known as the "king of metals", platinum has a white natural sheen that makes it look glossy and beautiful, but without the need for plating (a common issue with white gold).
The metal is heavier than gold, but it's highly durable. Platinum rings have a longer lifespan than gold, and they maintain their luster and shine longer.
Let's look at the pros and cons of platinum:
- No need for plating or an added finish. Platinum is naturally white and shiny.
- Highly durable. The metal is able to withstand extreme temperatures.
- Hypoallergenic, even for those with gold allergies.
- Resistant to rust, tarnish, stains, and corrosion.
- Platinum is easily scratched, but when it is, you never lose metal. Instead, the metal is simply displaced or shifted aside, not removed from the ring.
- Feels substantial and solid—platinum is actually 70% heavier than 18K gold!
- Prone to scratches. Though the metal is durable, the surface of your ring is prone to developing scratches and grooves through heavy use.
- Pricey. In fact, platinum is among the priciest of the precious metals used for rings. High quality platinum wedding bands contain 95% pure platinum, while most gold rings only contain 60 to 75% gold. This means you'll pay more for a platinum wedding band than gold.
Platinum is a beautiful white alternative to gold, but prepare to pay a higher price for your ring!
Carbon Fiber wedding rings are an inexpensive option for those who want a unique-looking piece of jewelry. Carbon fiber is made from synthetic polymers, and it's a highly lightweight yet durable material.
Though it lacks the elegance of the premium metals, but it provides more versatility for engraving, etching, and unique ring constructions.
- Versatile. Carbon fiber can be made in a broad range of fibers, with many engraving and etching styles.
- Durable. While not as heavy as other metals, carbon fiber is durable and scratch-resistant.
- Modern. Say farewell to the "traditional" look with these high-tech, modern-looking rings.
- Hypoallergenic, perfect for those gold and silver allergies.
- Inexpensive. You'll pay far less for carbon fiber than the pricier metals above.
- Not as elegant as the higher-priced, more valuable materials.
- Looks simple. A carbon fiber wedding ring lacks the sheen and opulence of gold, silver, and platinum.
If you're ring-shopping on a budget, try carbon fiber.
Wood Inlay Rings
Wood inlay rings are metal rings that have wood embedded in the center. The metal band frame provides the durability required for a wedding ring, while the unique grain of the wood provides the original style you want.
These can be beautiful rings and they are a nice choice if you want something that looks both unique but still elegant.
- Durable. The metal is usually silver, platinum, or tungsten, while the wood is often thick and damage-resistant like oak, teak, or ebony.
- Unique. Each ring has its own unique appearance, thanks to the swirling grains of wood. No two wood-inlaid rings look alike!
- Versatile. Everything from the metal frame to the wooden inlay to the etching and engraving comes in a broad range of styles and colors.
- Inexpensive. Compared to the precious metals listed above, wood inlay is fairly low-budget.
- Not the most elegant option, especially if you're going for a traditional appearance.
- Prone to breakage. The inlaid wood may fall out or be damaged more easily than solid metal rings.
For an original appearance and modern style, wood inlay rings are an amazing choice.
What About Novelty Rings?
Novelty rings—wedding rings manufactured in the style of a Lord of the Rings ring (One Ring to Rule Them All) or Star Wars Rings - (The Force be With You) - are becoming highly popular in modern times.
These rings utilize both traditional (gold, platinum, palladium) and modern (silver, ceramic, titanium, and tungsten) metals, adding etching or engraving in the style of these trendy fantasy and science fiction universes.
For those who want to celebrate their inner geek at their wedding, Lord of the Rings ring, Star Wars rings, and other novelty rings are an excellent choice.
Tips for Choosing Men’s Wedding Rings
Now that we've navigated the most difficult choice (the metal), it's time to look at the few remaining details that go into choosing the wedding ring. Once you've found the metal that suits your tastes and lifestyle, all that's left is to think about:
Width – For guys with larger hands, thicker wedding rings will be more visible. Men with smaller hands and/or slimmer fingers may want to consider a slim wedding band.
Wider wedding bands cost more, as they require more metal. However, they are more resistant to bending and breakage.
On the flip side, slimmer wedding rings are less likely to interfere with your work, and they are less prominent and visible.
Finish – The finish is the texture of the ring's metal, as well as any polish or plating that is applied to give it a brighter sheen.
- A high polish finish means a reflective finish on the metal, the most common choice for wedding bands.
- A matte finish is less reflective and has a more modern, understated appearance.
- With a combination finish, your ring has elements with both the high polish and matte finishes—definitely a very stylish option.
- Hammered finishes give the ring a textured appearance, almost as if a tiny hammer pounded at the metal. It's eye-catching and unique, but potentially more prone to damage.
Edge – There are a number of edges to choose from: curved edge, flat edge, rounded angle edge, and so on. Flat edges are ideal for slimmer, lighter-weight rings, but they can cut into your skin and leave callouses. Rounded edges are more comfortable and more prone to damage.
Engraving – Some men like to engrave their initials, a special date, or some other words, letters, or numbers into the wedding band—either the interior or exterior. You can even engrave fancy designs or symbols with special meanings to give the band an added flair and uniqueness.
Here's the secret to finding the right wedding band: trying them on!
Using the information obtained above (metals, details, etc.), go to your local jewelers and try on a selection of rings. Try slim, wide, gold, silver, platinum, high polished, matte, and all the other options and see which one suits your personal style best.
But here's what really matters: does your wedding band match your wife's? You have to select a band that not only looks good for your particular tastes, but also that matches the wedding ring you're buying for her.
It's recommended that you shop for both rings at the same time to make it easier to find a matching pair or set.
Wedding Ring Size Guide
Most guys have NO idea what size ring they wear without going to a jeweler's and getting your ring finger measured. Thankfully, it's actually fairly easy to measure your ring size.
Before you start measuring, make sure you're in an environment that is neither cold nor hot—"room temperature" is ideal. Don't take the measurements immediately after a workout or first thing in the morning.
Cold, heat, sleep, and exercise can all affect finger size, which may throw off your measurement. Do it when your body is in "neutral" to ensure the most accuracy.
There are two easy ways to measure your ring size:
Method #1: Find a ring that fits on your ring finger, and hold it up to this image:
Find the size that matches the ring closest, and that will be your wedding ring size.
Method #2: Cut a 6" strip of regular printer paper and wrap it around your ring finger. Without pulling the paper too tight, mark the spot where the paper overlaps. Hold it up to this image:
The length that most closely matches the length of your marked paper is your ring size.
Most men range between size 8 and 14, with the most common sizes from 8 ½ to 10 ½. However, you want to make sure to measure your finger to get the best, most comfortable ring according to your size.
Questions to Ask Before Buying a Wedding Band
When trying our wedding bands, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Will I be taking this ring off/putting it on regularly (at work, at the gym, etc.)?
- Is this ring so wide that it will interfere with my manual labor?
- Is the ring too thin to bear up under the daily wear and tear of my job/home life?
- Will I wear this ring during sports/work/hobbies?
- Do I prefer a more traditional or unique/modern style?
- Does this ring match the style of my wife's wedding ring?
- Is this ring the right size, style, shape, and metal for my hand size and skin tone?
These questions will help you to narrow down your choices, making it easier for you to find the right wedding band for you.