Guide to Metal Ring Styles
When shopping for a unique, one of a kind wedding ring, many come across the idea of a wood ring. No two such rings are ever alike, and it stands out more than the traditional, plain wedding band. To enhance it's durability, a metal component is ideal. This leads to probably one of the most pressing questions for someone who has decided to purchase a wood and metal ring: “which metal is right for me?” From the standpoint of aesthetics, the choice is straightforward. If you love the non-traditional and striking appearance of a black ring and want a wood interior, black zirconium or ceramic is the material for you! If you want your ring to resemble a traditional white gold or platinum ring, you are going to favor cobalt. However, beyond the purely visual impression each material gives, there are many factors one might want to consider when choosing a wood and metal ring.
Titanium has become an increasingly popular choice for those with metal allergies. It is completely hypoallergenic and biocompatible. It is fairly scratch resistant, much more so than gold, earning titanium a 950MPa on the Vickers Hardness Test scale while gold scores a mere 200. It is also resistant to corrosion or tarnish, unlike silver- even in salt water! It is very lightweight and, if you choose a satin finish, doesn't give off much of a shine, making it a comfortable fit for those who don't normally wear jewelry, or don't like anything too flashy.
If you would like your ring to show more of the wood, or if you would like to add a stone inlay such as turquoise, titanium gives the wearer an opportunity to customize their wood ring, with a wood exterior and titanium - no sacrificing durability.
If you have heard any rumors that titanium can not be cut off in emergency situations, please put that out of your mind.. This may have at one time been true, but today it is just an urban myth.
If you are someone who wants to stick with the traditional look of a wedding band, but want that wooden interior look, cobalt is probably the ideal metal for you. It is similar to white gold or platinum in appearance, but is about four times harder than platinum, with an MPa of 1043 on the hardness scale. Similar to titanium, it is hypoallergenic and biocompatible. However, in many circumstances under which a titanium ring might scratch, cobalt will not. Cobalt also offers nearly the scratch resistance of Tungsten Carbide, but unlike Tungsten, Cobalt will not shatter if dropped.
Cobalt is another metal that can be customized with exterior inlays to enhance your wood ring. Shown below are the many styles that have cobalt exteriors as well exterior wood or gold style features.
Among the most strikingly non-traditional metal I offer in my shop would be the black zirconium. This has been favored amongst those who want something a little “edgier” for their wood ring. The zirconium is heat treated until the extreme heat causes oxidization, forming a very hard, durable black coating. This coating has a hardness rating of 1940MPa - the same as sapphire. Although it is very scratch resistant, if it scratched deeply enough, it can reveal the natural silver coloring of the zirconium underneath and is therefore not ideal for those who have a higher tendency to scratch phone screens, watch faces, etc. For those, I recommend Black Ceramic.
For those who like a little flair to their black zirconium and wood ring, a 2 point precious stone inlay (including diamond, ruby, sapphire etc.) or a stripe of gold can be added:
Black ceramic has become my favorite material to work with. Its insane durability coupled with its stark, deep black color makes it a unique canvas on which I get to paint my most unique creations. It is roughly as scratch-proof as tungsten carbide (and almost as heavy). It is black all the way through, so unlike black zirconium, even if you scratch it, it will remain black. Black ceramic is an ideal choice for electricians as it is non-conductive. Some of my most singular designs have been achieved with this material.
Tungsten Carbide, with an incredible 2600MPa on the hardness scale, is one of the most sought after metals if you value its unparalleled scratch resistance. Because it is 10x harder than gold, and 5x harder than steel, it makes for a perfect match for a wood ring as it will not bend or deform in any way. Because of its density, however, it makes it heavier. MUCH heavier than titanium, for example. One factor to consider when shopping for a tungsten carbide ring with a wooden component is the relationship between hardness and brittleness. As with all superhard materials, a tungsten carbide ring, if it is dropped from head height onto concrete, has a good chance to crack. All rings in my shop are made using only US sourced materials, so the tungsten carbide I use does not crack easily, as poorly casted imported rings tend to do.
Damascus steel is very scratch resistant and surprisingly heavy, making it ideal for tougher lifestyles. Damascus is made from many layers to create a stronger, superior metal. Throughout history and fantasy, this was the preferred choice for superior weapons- nothing says manly like blade steel.
If the word “steel” makes you nervous for fear of it rusting- not to worry. The natural oils in the skin as well as the quality steel alloys used in these rings are usually sufficient to prevent it from rusting. The only exception would be if you are in regular contact with corrosives like salt-water, I wouldn’t recommend this material.
I offer a few different styles of damascus to add to your wood ring. The CNC damascus is cut by machine, and there are little variations. It is brighter in color, and lightweight. Alternately, the hand wrought damascus is unique because it is like fingerprints- no two rings are ever alike. This makes it special to pair with wood, as both pieces are strictly one of a kind. It is also heavier and much more durable than the machine-made damascus.
For a long time, I resisted making wood rings with precious metals. I highly value the durability of modern metals such as cobalt and ceramic. However, despite the relative softness of metals like gold, platinum, and palladium (all of which are options), the beauty of something like rose gold is undeniable.