By Charlie Brown

When buying a men’s wedding band, you’re rarely buying a ring made in a 100% pure precious metal. For some men, it becomes extremely important to learn what alloys are present in wedding bands for men as some frequently used metals like nickel can cause reactions in sensitive or allergic skin. Even disregarding these types of potential health concerns, it’s fair to ask what other elements may be in your men’s wedding band merely as an educated consumer. Here is a little background information on what the most commonly used precious metals – gold and platinum – are utilizing as alloys in wedding bands for men.


Gold has long been a popular element in jewelry not only for its unique yellow color, but because it is extremely malleable and can be beautifully shaped into a number of designs. However, this ductility also means that gold is naturally very soft, and as such most gold men’s wedding bands – are alloyed with another metal. Alloying gold makes it not only more dent-resistant and affordable, but it can also change its signature yellow color to other popular gold colors like white or rose. The purity of gold is measured in karats, and the higher the karat number, the higher the percentage of gold. While beautiful and rich, pure 24K gold is simply too soft for regular use in jewelry. The most common karat grades found in wedding bands for men are 10K, 14K and 18K, which is often considered to be the global high standard for gold jewelry.

So what is being mixed with gold men’s wedding bands? In the case of 18K yellow gold, 75% gold is alloyed with copper, zinc, silver, cobalt or a mixture of two or more of the aforementioned elements. 18K white gold is 75% gold alloyed with 25% nickel, palladium, copper and/or zinc. For those with an allergic reaction to nickel, 18K palladium white gold (75% gold with 25% palladium) is a somewhat more expensive though less dermis irritating option. Both types of 18K white gold can require periodic rhodium plating to maintain their silvery appearance. 18K rose gold usually adds 25% copper to 75% gold to create a rich reddish hue.


Once declared by Louis XV as the “only metal fit for a king,” centuries later platinum still holds its status as perhaps the most exclusive of metals used in men’s wedding bands. This white metal is indeed one of the rarest elements found on Earth, and its rarity and natural beauty is matched by other highly beneficial qualities – it is hypoallergenic, tarnish-resistant and durable. While platinum can scratch, its inherent density means that it simply develops an attractive patina rather than requiring any sort of re- plating. The most common grades of platinum found in wedding rings for men are 900 platinum (or 90% pure platinum) and 950 platinum (95% pure platinum).

900 platinum men’s wedding rings are most frequently alloyed with iridium, and can also be referred to as Pt900/Ir (or 900 parts platinum to 100 part iridium). Iridium is a dense and corrosion-resistant chemical element and part of the platinum family, making it in many ways ideal as a platinum alloy. Iridium can also be used in 950 platinum (Pt950/Ir), with a formulation of 950 parts platinum to 50 parts iridium. Other types of 950 platinum that are frequently used in wedding bands for men are Pt950/Ru (50 parts ruthenium to 900 parts platinum) and Pt950/Co (900 parts platinum, 50 parts cobalt).

It should be noted: the amount of alloy used in platinum is a by weight percentage, and is not by volume as some might assume. Because platinum is so dense and heavy, the percentage of alloy used in platinum men’s wedding bands is somewhat more than if this percentage were by volume.

No matter what material your intended men’s wedding ring is, it is always a good idea to get a little education and background on its formulation and materials. Make sure to ask your jeweler about the types of alloys used and their percentages, as it will help you make an informed buying choice.

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