For centuries, brides and grooms have chosen wedding rings to signify their love.
Women still overwhelmingly choose the traditional diamond band, but men are seeking rings made from alternative metals, especially tungsten-carbide, cobalt and titanium, said Richard Elgin, owner of Elgin’s Fine Jewelry in Baton Rouge.
“This has made wedding rings a lot more interesting,” Elgin said. “They used to be kind of boring.”
Prices for gold have caused rings made from the precious metal to rise over the past decade. A ring crafted from an alternative metal costs less than more traditional gold or platinum bands, and they hold up to abuse better, added Donny Boudreaux, owner of Boudreaux’s Jewelers. They are scratch-resistant and tough.
“Sometimes I’ll have someone who works in a plant or with their hands a lot,” he said. “They’re concerned they’re going to beat up what they’re wearing.”
One reason women do not order tungsten-carbide rings, Elgin said, is because they cannot be resized. These alternative metals have to be sent away and exchanged for a different size.
“That is the one negative,” he said. “But it doesn’t seem to bother any of the guys at all.”
White precious metals — white gold and platinum — still dominate the world of women’s wedding bands, said Scott Berg, president of Lee Michaels jewelry stores. However, yellow gold and rose gold — gold mixed with copper to give it a rosy hue — are becoming more popular alternatives.
Most women’s wedding rings will complement their engagement rings. A band with small round diamonds is still extremely popular.
Some women are choosing to actually forgo traditional diamond solitaire engagement rings in favor of a simpler diamond wedding band, Elgin said.
“The new trend is women will get a nice wide diamond band in lieu of an engagement ring,” he said. “They’ll take a nice, wide diamond band and that’s their wedding and engagement ring all in one. That’s not how they do it most of the time.”
When men do go for traditional wedding bands, they like to choose a ring that reflects their own personal style, Berg said.
“You work with them to find out what their lifestyle is like and picking the right metal or material based upon their lifestyle, too,” Berg said.
About 40 percent of grooms choose a ring to match their partner’s band, but the rest want to express themselves, Berg said.
“I’d say more than anything they want their individual taste,” he said. “Do they have a yellow gold watch? If they do, they might want to wear it with a yellow gold band. Or do they want a two-tone because they have multiple watches they want to wear it with?”
When it comes to wedding bands, price is not as large of a concern, Berg said.
“This represents their love and matrimony forever,” he said.
An man’s alternative metal ring can cost $100 to $300, while a gold band can cost $300 to $900 and platinum will be $1,000 or more. Women’s diamond wedding bands will go for $650 and up.
After buying an engagement ring and paying several thousand dollars for flowers, a dress and the reception, the rings are not as expensive in comparison, Berg said.
“What are the two things you have forever afterwards?” he asked. “You have the rings.”