The four main jewelry metals are platinum, gold, palladium and silver. They have long been treasured due to their rarity, malleability and with the exception of silver, their resistance to corrosion. Precious metal prices have been on the rise and although they are the best option for most jewelry applications, a number of designers have started designing in “alternative” metals such as stainless steel, titanium, tungsten, and cobalt chrome.
The biggest disadvantages to alternative metals are the difficulty of working the piece, the inability to size or alter the piece, and little value in scrapping the piece. Most designers offer a guarantee and “sizing” (actually a tradeback) service for their jewelry. Most of these alternative metals are made into men’s jewelry, especially wedding bands. Each metal has additional advantages and disadvantages over each other and traditional precious metals.
I have seen some stainless steel in ladies’ rings, men’s wedding bands and other men’s jewelry. It is a strong metal and has some corrosion resistance. There are different grades of stainless, and some do stain.
Titanium is a lightweight gray or black metal. With superior strength to steel, it is corrosion resistant, and so hypoallergenic that it is used in medical implants. Edward Mirell/Spector has used this metal in men’s jewelry, wedding rings and now in some ladies’ jewelry as well.
Tungsten is a grayish metal that is used in wedding bands. It is the most scratch resistant of the alternative metals. The biggest disadvantage is that it is brittle and can shatter if dropped.
Cobalt chrome is the newest of the alternative metals to be used for jewelry. It offers a weightier feel, a whiter color that does not fade, a very high scratch resistance, very good corrosion resistance and it is also hypoallergenic. In the case of designer Scott Kay, it is medical grade that is used in implants.
We carry Edward Mirell titanium jewelry and just added Scott Kay’s cobalt chrome men’s wedding bands. I feel they have the best design styles in these alternative metals. The masculine styling and the toughness and hardness are perfect for men who are rough on their jewelry.