Wedding Bands Guide

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Wedding Bands Guide

Key takeaway points:

• A wedding band is a symbol of unity, signaling to the opposite sex that you are no longer available.

• Women tend to wear thin diamond-set wedding bands.

• Men gravitate toward masculine solid metal bands.

• To avoid damage, we recommend wearing engagement and wedding bands on separate hands.


A classic wedding band with its traditional domed profile is the most popular wedding band for men. Men's bands range from 1.0 to 15.0 mm wide. In the US, men go for 3.0 mm and wider bands, while women prefer the width of 2.0 mm or less.

A band's width correlates with the finger's size: a 4.0 mm finger size 6 band would look too bulky, yet scaled to finger size 16, a 4.0 mm band would look too narrow. 1.0 mm of width compensates for an approximate increase in 3 finger sizes. It means that a 5.0 mm size 14 band and 3.5 mm size 9 band have a very similar look on the finger. A band's width is a matter of personal taste.

There are cultural differences - Eastern European men wear narrow wedding bands, while their wives like to cover their whole phalanx bone. In Europe, modern flat ring profiles appear wider than the domed bands of the same width favored by Americans.

A wedding band's thickness correlates directly with its width - both increase in parallel. Very thick wedding bands may cause discomfort, causing fingers to flare because they cannot stay closed.

Platinum is simply gorgeous, providing a timeless look and beautiful luster. Thanks to its naturally soft white hue, platinum has always been a standard metal for engagement and wedding jewelry.

Platinum feels heavier and more substantial than gold as it is almost twice as dense. For traditional plain wedding bands, heavier is better - you can enjoy the feeling of its constant presence on your finger.

Platinum color is neutral - no need to worry about color coordinating outfits and accessories. It doesn’t tarnish or oxidize. Most British Crown jewels are made of platinum which is 30 times rarer than gold. Platinum is truly an eternal metal, and its purity resonates with the sanctity of marriage.

Aged platinum has a dignified, noble appearance. When the platinum surface becomes uniformly scratched and dented, it settles into a stable condition best described as distressed “shabby chic.” Reminiscent of a brightly shined piece of vintage silverware, a glistening bright surface punctuated by microscopic dings.

It is worth anticipating this unique rustic look that is impossible to mechanically reproduce unless a squad of Oompa-Loompa jewelers pummels the band with miniature hammers for about a week. Platinum, unlike gold, is a self burnishing metal and does not shed its layers during wear.

Platinum is the metal of choice for bridal jewelry. Choosing the right metal is a very personal decision, and each material has advantages and disadvantages. Platinum always comes out as a winner. Platinum’s extremely high melting point withstands intense heat applications, such as oven temperature sensors and crucibles, or coating on ballistic missiles.

The short answer is no, yellow gold’s popularity is on the decline. Historically, gold’s rich yellow color was a significant draw. However, women and men have been shunning yellow metal for many decades now. Gold is not making a comeback in bridal jewelry. Today, it’s more and more a symbol of excess and extravagance.

In an episode of the popular Sex and the City, the yuppy icon, Carrie Bradshaw, dry heaved at the news that her boyfriend was about to get her a gold ring. If you want a warm metal color for your wedding band, consider pink gold instead of yellow.

White gold is not an ideal choice for a wedding band. White gold was created as a platinum substitute during the war when platinum was considered a scarce strategic asset. White gold is usually plated with rhodium to conceal its yellow tint.

A thin layer of rhodium (a white metal in the platinum group) is applied to the surface, giving white gold its bright white shine. Rhodium is very hard, so it provides a degree of protection from scratches until its thin layer wears or peels off. That’s why white gold jewelry needs to be “dipped” from time to time to reapply rhodium.

Some jewelers falsely claim that the white gold alloy they use is so white that it does not require rhodium plating. It’s a lie; such alloys do not exist. Consumers are also often misled into thinking that white gold is harder than platinum. This is false, platinum is harder.

In the last decade, gold cost almost twice as much as platinum. There are several reasons why gold bands are cheaper:

  • Platinum is much denser; the same band weighs almost double when it’s platinum.
  • The platinum alloy contains 95% of pure platinum, while 14k gold has only 58.3% of pure gold.
  • Platinum is usually combined with ruthenium, a platinum group metal, while gold is alloyed with inexpensive copper and zinc.
  • Platinum wedding bands are more difficult to manufacture as they require special skills and expensive machinery.

Once more valuable than gold, silver has been prized for centuries. Its relative softness has hampered traditional use for making wedding bands. Silver also tarnishes very quickly.
Pure silver is too soft to be used in jewelry; it must be alloyed with copper to boost its strength. Sterling silver contains at least 92.5% of pure silver. On the positive side, silver does protect from vampires.

Pink gold is an upscale alloy associated with wealth, glamour, and grandeur, minus the glitz and extravagance of its yellow cousin.

Pink, red, or rose gold (the same thing, rose sounds more romantic) is highly durable and resistant to scratches and dents. It owes its beautiful tender color to a higher share of copper in its alloy. Copper is also responsible for rose gold’s exceptional hardness that makes high luster polish possible.

Rose gold owes its prominence to Russians who used it in all types of jewelry, starting from Carl Fabergé’s famous Easter eggs to tea kettles for wealthy merchants. In Russia, up until very recently, pink gold was considered the natural gold color, earning it a nickname “Russian gold”.

There are a few drawbacks - even 18k rose gold tarnishes fairly quickly. It is also more difficult to hand-forge.

Retailers love matching wedding band sets and what’s not to love - two sales with one sales pitch. A matching set usually consists of two same metal but different styles bands or similar style bands in a different metal. When the couple is together, the look of matching bands is so sugary sweet; one can get diabetes just by looking at them. When the couple is apart, who cares whether they match or not.

His’n’her’s wedding band sets are popular in Europe, where couples are not embarrassed to wear identical rings. Such conformity of tastes between a man and a woman is unhealthy. Women deserve something more special, beautiful, feminine. Men require something more masculine and straightforward.

There are exceptions, of course, but we advise dismissing the idea of a wedding band matching set. Show your individuality! Otherwise, we end up marching in goose step, wearing identical Hugo Boss uniforms and saluting each other with the right arm extended at a 30-degree angle.

A wedding band is worn nonstop, so ensuring it’s entirely safe for your skin is a priority. “Hypoallergenic” metals are those that are least likely to cause an allergic reaction. All metals except platinum can cause an allergic reaction.

Moisture from frequent hand washing or swimming can be a possible cause of skin irritation. Perspiration, lotions, and household chemicals trapped under the wedding band can also cause irritation. Cleaning your wedding band regularly and drying it thoroughly after washing your hands can rule out allergies. If you continue to have irritation caused by your wedding band, consider getting a divorce.

Nickel, zinc, copper, and lead used in metal alloys can cause allergies. Nickel allergies are prevalent and quite severe. European Union bans the metal from use in gold alloys. Unfortunately, the majority of white gold jewelry sold in the US is made with nickel alloy. It is worth noting that Leon Mege jewelry is never made using nickel alloy. If you are aware of any metal allergy that you might have, you can contact us to make sure the ring you’re interested in is safe for you.

Since the human body does not react to platinum and palladium, these metals are used for biomedical applications. Both are completely safe for people with sensitive skin. Platinum is 75% denser than palladium and 20 times as dense as water. Palladium is a precious silver-colored metal very similar to platinum in appearance. It’s almost as light as gold but more pliable. Both metals can be formed into virtually any shape and suited for all jewelry applications.

Yellow gold is generally hypoallergenic if it contains a minimum of 75% of pure gold - 18k or higher. Copper and silver used for alloying gold rarely cause adverse reactions, but zinc occasionally does. Gold alloys are significantly less hypoallergenic than platinum or palladium. White gold should be avoided because there is a strong chance it contains poisonous nickel.

Cobalt is a scratch-resistant, cheap, dark silvery metal used to make wedding bands. It is used in dental and orthopedic implants for its hypoallergenic properties and durability. You can also consider surgical stainless steel, whether it fell from the sky in meteorites or was melted by humans. Stainless steel wedding bands are cheap and safe to wear. When everything else fails, consider zirconium - a lightweight and hypoallergenic material. You can’t go cheaper than that.

Gold, silver, and platinum aren't your only metal options when buying a wedding band. From traditional to ultra-modern, there are plenty of materials to consider:

Palladium is a naturally white metal that is visually indistinguishable from platinum. It is one of the rarest metals on Earth. A decade ago, palladium was considered a cheap platinum substitute, costing a fraction of platinum's price. Today, palladium is twice as expensive as platinum. Even bitcoin millionaires will think twice before ordering a band made out of palladium. Palladium is lighter than platinum, very durable, and hypoallergenic.

Titanium is one of the strongest and lightweight metals available for wedding bands. Those who are exhausted from wearing heavy platinum bands can finally be relieved by titanium's almost plastic-like heft.

Stainless steel rings are strong and cheap. They can be polished to a shiny chrome finish or brushed for a pewter look. Either way, you've got yourself a shiny piece of hardware.

Damascus steel rings are made of two alternating types of stainless steel layered together to create striped patterns. Some layers are chemically darkened to add a dramatic contrast similar to zebra skin.

Meteorite iron is often incorporated in wedding bands combined with other metals, such as titanium, platinum, and gold. Stellar-born superheated meteorites fallen on Earth slowly cooled over billions of years, causing iron molecules to settle into a crystalline Widmanstätten pattern that does not occur elsewhere on Earth. Tungsten, or Wolfram for Krauts, is a silvery metal that was identified as a new element in 1781. It is four times harder than titanium and hypoallergenic but unfortunately prone to shattering. Because of their hardness, tungsten rings have a brilliant, vitreous shine.

Tungsten rings cannot be sized but this is rarely an issue. Tungsten rings are very inexpensive and can be easily replaced.

Cobalt is a bright white metal, known as "poor wife's platinum." It is heavier than other non-precious metals which gives it a substantial feel. It's perfect for those who want to always keep in touch with their wedding vows.

Ceramic wedding bands may look cool at first, but they are more appropriate for teenages. They are so cheap that you may want to marry a few more times just to enjoy the bargain.

Wood can be found in wedding bands as an inlay in titanium, ceramic, or tungsten. Whole rings may also be carved out of a solid piece of wood. These rings are not indestructible and require extra care to stay presentable. On the plus side, they're dirt cheap.

Dinosaur bone rings contain fossilized bones of Barney and his friends. His remains are cut up and used for inlays combined with meteorite iron, exotic wood, or other equally fascinating materials. A grim reminder that our remains might end up in family court one day.

Zirconium is a grayish-white metal that is similar to titanium but has a ceramic-like feel to it. Zirconium is shatter-proof, relatively lightweight, skin-friendly, and cheap. Zirconium darkens when exposed to oxidation, so zirconium bands are usually jet-black. Zirconium is used in nuclear reactors due to its high heat and corrosion resistance, so it's a safe bet that Homer Simpson wears a zirconium band.

Antlers of many different species, colors, and textures are used as an inlay material in wedding bands, serving as a constant reminder of senseless animal murder. Some animals died before their remains were dug out and desecrated.

Carbon fiber is a very lightweight, durable material made from organic polymers. These wedding bands are made entirely from carbon fiber or used as inlays. Carbon fiber rings are pretty durable and cheap.

Zirconium, titanium, and steel rings can be cut off from the finger by medical personnel, but it's a major headache, so medics will not appreciate your taste in alternative metals.

Mokume-gane is a highly specialized technique perfected by the Japanese of imitating wood-like texture on a metal surface (hence the name: mokume - wood grain and gane - metal 木目金 ). Various metals and alloys are fused to produce a laminate with a uniquely patterned finish. This stock is used for making wedding bands.

Denbei Shoami, a Japanese metalsmith, is credited with inventing the technique for decorating samurai swords. Just like wood graining is caused by naturally alternating harder and softer layers of wood, the faux wood pattern in mokume gane is due to each metal's different physical properties - hardness, toughness, resistance to corrosion, etc.

The hardness of platinum and white gold alloys is based on the Vickers scale (HV). The higher number indicates a more rigid metal. There is a significant difference in hardness between hand-forged (cold worked) metal and metal produced by casting.

How metals stack up from the softest to the hardest:

  • 110 HV - 5% iridium platinum cast - incredibly soft, not suitable for hand-forging
  • 130 HV - 5.0% ruthenium platinum cast
  • 135 HV - 4.5% cobalt platinum cast, the relatively soft magnetic alloy used in mass production
  • 150 HV - 18k yellow gold cast
  • 190 HV - 18k palladium white gold cost
  • 210 HV - 18k hand-forged yellow gold is used for bench work. High-end jewelers use 18k gold exclusively
  • 216 HV - 18k palladium hand-forged white gold. This alloy is rarely used because of palladium's high cost. Platinum is the better option
  • 220-230 HV - 5.0% ruthenium hand-forged platinum. Used in high-end jewelry. All Leon Megé jewelry is made using this alloy
  • 220 HV - 18k nickel white gold. This alloy has a significant yellow tint. May cause severe allergic reactions. Illegal for use in jewelry in the European Union
  • 350 HV - 14k nickel white gold - rock-hard, dangerous, pale yellow, allergy-causing alloy, illegal in the European Union

Machined wedding bands come in two varieties: standard and comfort-fit. The comfort-fit bands have a puffed-up inner surface to slide on easier and feel comfortable during wear. In contrast, the standard "pipe-cut" bands are flat inside, so they weigh less and are priced less.

A "light comfort fit" may only be very slightly rounded inside, while a "heavy comfort fit" has a deeper curve. The regular comfort fit is something in-between. These are not standardized profiles; each manufacturer has a different notion of what such curvatures are.

High-end wedding bands like those sold by Leon Mege have finely chamfered edges and smooth polish, so they provide maximum comfort by default. All of our hand-forged bands slip on easily yet stay tight on the finger without the need to curve their inner surface.

Women overwhelmingly prefer wedding bands set with diamonds over plain metal bands. Even the Orthodox Jews who are required to wear a solid band at the wedding ceremony often set it with diamonds once the nuptial formalities are out of the way.

The choice of a wedding band depends on how the wedding band is worn. The majority of women wear engagement and wedding rings on the same finger. This eventually causes damage from friction to both rings, so we don’t recommend it.

For those who wear both engagement and wedding rings together, a pave-set band makes most sense. A pave band works with any engagement ring regardless of the diamond’s shape.

There are two main pave styles: modern pave, with a soft blurry outline, and bright-cut pave, with well-defined rigid edges. Engagement rings with emeralds or Asschers are complemented by bands with a bright-cut pave. A modern-style pave works well for rounded stones such as ovals, cushions, pears, marquises, and, of course, rounds.

A thin low-sitting wedding band is key to minimizing friction. The choice of a bright-cut style pave offers better protection than a modern pave. A thin dainty pave band will stay closer to the engagement ring without a large gap in between. It’s recommended to keep the band’s width to the minimum since a wedding band should not compete but rather complement the engagement ring.

For those who wear engagement and wedding rings separately, the possibilities are endless. A woman can wear a more substantial wedding band with larger stones without potentially overpowering her engagement ring. Any diamond shape or a combination of shapes is fair game. Larger stones can share prongs, hence the name “shared-prong” bands. Eternity bands can also be bezel or channel set.

To tie both rings stylistically, a step-cut diamond can be paired with a wedding band set with step-cuts, while a brilliant-cut band can accompany a brilliant-cut engagement ring.

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