Alternative Men’s Rings: Your Guide to the Materials, Styles and Shapes of Non-Traditional Men’s Wedding Rings
Rings aren't just another piece of jewelry. They're tokens, artifacts, one-of-a-kind objects that represent something real and true about the person who wears them. They tell a story -- your story. It is this story, in your ring, that can be passed down for generations, something your children treasure the same way you treasure your grandfather's watch or your grandmother's china. Every ring should be as special as the person who wears it.
Men's Wedding Ring Trends
One of the biggest trends in men's wedding rings in recent years has been a shift toward more unique, nontraditional styles and materials. The move towards alternative men's rings is fueled, at least in part, by a desire to have a ring that truly means something to the wearer.
There's no rule that says traditional gold and silver rings can't have meaning, of course, but there's something special about alternative men's ring materials like wood, antler and leather. With wood in particular, you know your ring is truly unique, because no two pieces of wood have the same grain and character. Just like us, every tree has a history of its own.
In the world of metal rings, a shift has been occurring toward alternative metals. Silver and yellow gold rings will probably never go out of style completely, but today's ring wearer can choose options ranging from tungsten carbide to titanium alloys and carbon fiber.
Materials for Alternative Men's Rings
Men today have more options than ever when it comes to choosing alternative wedding ring materials. Here we’ll focus on a couple popular alternative metals: titanium and tungsten. We’ll also discuss non-metal alternatives, such as wood and leather, as well as a few other materials you probably would’ve never considered using in a wedding ring.
Titanium is one of the best alternative wedding band materials because of how durable and lightweight it is. If you’re an active, busy guy who doesn’t want to spend a lot of time worrying about ring maintenance, titanium can be an excellent choice because it is scratch-resistant, tarnish-resistant and easy to clean. Titanium is also a poor conductor of heat and electricity, meaning you don’t need to worry (too much) about sticking your finger where it doesn’t belong.
Most titanium rings are hypoallergenic, as they rarely contain cobalt or nickel, the two most common metal allergens. In terms of affordability, titanium rings are usually cheaper than gold, platinum and palladium rings, but tend to be more expensive than other materials like wood and leather.
Tungsten rings are actually made out of tungsten carbide (tungsten plus carbon), not pure tungsten. Being a highly dense metal with a hardness ranked slightly below that of diamond, tungsten rings are scratch-resistant and highly durable. Like titanium, tungsten is a more affordable metal than gold or platinum, though the price depends largely on the grade of tungsten used. Low-grade tungsten (smaller percentage of tungsten and carbon) is of lower quality and, consequently, is cheaper than high-grade tungsten. Low-grade tungsten also contains more nickel, resulting in a greater allergy risk.
While it is extremely hard and resistant to bending and scratching, it is also vulnerable to high pressures, breaking into pieces if enough force is applied to it. For this reason, tungsten rings are difficult to resize. Thanks to its resistance to bending, tungsten rings are a popular choice for men who frequently work with their hands.
Every piece of wood has a history, sometimes stretching back hundreds of years. Their story is woven into yours when you wear a wood wedding ring. Wood is a favorite material for alternative men's rings because, for many people, it represents our close ties with nature. It's also warm, lightweight, beautiful, and offers virtually endless design possibilities. From the characteristics of each tree to the fine texture of every woodgrain, no two pieces of wood are exactly the same.
Wood wedding rings, while not as strong as metal rings, are surprisingly tough when they are well made. Bentwood rings are much stronger than rings made by simply drilling a hole in a piece of wood. Bentwood rings get their strength from the many layers of wood used to create them. Rings sealed with a tough layer of cyanoacrylate epoxy give it an extra bit of protection against chips and scratches.
Wood is a renewable resource, and you can’t get much more sustainable than a wood wedding ring. At Rustic and Main, we use a lot of recycled and repurposed materials, from rifle stocks and barn wood to deck wood from American battleships. We value our closeness with nature as much as you do, which is why we make our rings as eco-friendly as possible. Additionally, like some of the other materials on this list, wood is a great alternative material if you have a hypersensitivity to certain metals, such as nickel or cobalt.
Leather is the original rugged material. It's tough, durable, and resistant to stains and scratches, all of which make leather rings perfect for men who work with their hands. Leather rings are handsome too, and develop a patina that looks better and better with age. All of the leather we use to craft our leather rings are sourced from a reputable USA tannery that uses sustainable practices.
Other Custom Ring Materials
We have crafted custom rings from countless materials supplied to us by our customers. We've crafted elk antler wedding rings using naturally shed antlers harvested from the forest floor. Our customers have brought in rose petals, Scottish tartan cloth, antique rifle stock wood, WWI uniform wool, and coffee beans from their favorite coffee shop.
Another unique material that we frequently use at Rustic and Main is whiskey barrels from distilleries across America and around the world, such as Jack Daniel's, Buffalo Trace, Maker's Mark, Jameson, Lagavulin and many others.
Alternative Men's Ring Styles
Depending on the ring material, there are a number of important factors to take into account when deciding on an alternative ring style. These stylistic factors include the wedding band structure, finish, detailing and whether or not an inlay will be incorporated.
Common ring finishes, particularly with metal rings, include a shiny polish, subtle satin, flat matte or a grainy, sand-blasted look. Structurally, you can go with a straight-edged, curveless ring which is catching on with the minimalist crowd. There are also the traditional, domed rings that most people know and love, or the unusual, concave shape that will set you apart from the rest of the pack. Ring detailing includes carvings, engravings and the use of gemstones to make your alternative ring look truly alternative.
Rings can also be styled with certain types of inlays. An inlay is an ornamental strip that runs along the outside circumference of the ring. They can be made of anything from elk antler to gold to turquoise. There are 5 different inlay placements that we use at Rustic and Main:
- Center Inlay - A center inlay is a classic design that uses one primary wood, bisected by a single inlay through the center of the ring.
- Offset Inlay - Similar to center inlay rings except the inlay is slightly off-center, giving the ring a bit more personality.
- Custom Edge - Somewhat similar to an offset inlay ring, a custom edge ring features a wider strip of primary wood, separated from a narrower edging material by an off-center inlay.
- Half & Half - This style includes a center inlay splitting the ring into halves made up of different materials.
- 3-Inlay - Here, one material is used for the primary wood edges, another for the center inlay, and another for the two thin inlays that separate them.
Shapes, Sizes and Fits
With all the options for different ring materials and styles, it's easy to overlook one of the most crucial aspects of your wedding ring: how it fits. Sizing your wedding ring just right not only provides a comfortable fit, but it can also ensure the ring looks good on your finger.
Wedding Band Width
It can be difficult trying to figure out your wedding band width but it doesn’t have to be. Metal wedding bands are generally between 4 mm and 7 mm wide. Wood and some other alternative men's rings are typically a bit wider than metal wedding bands, ranging in width from approximately 5.5 mm to 9 mm. Band width is a matter of personal preference, but wider rings look best on men with larger hands, while narrower bands are good for men with slimmer fingers.
Sizing Your Ring
There are a couple of ways to get your ring size. The most effective way is to work with the business from whom you plan to purchase your ring, as each ring crafter will likely have specific sizing techniques depending on the style of ring they are creating for you.
The second method involves using a ring sizer. Resembling a giant keychain full of rings, you start with a ring size you think will be too large and work your way down. The idea is to find the size that's loose enough to fit over your knuckle, but not so loose that you can easily shake it off.
Note, many makers of wood wedding rings are not able to resize their rings, but because rings at Rustic and Main are made from bentwood instead of drilling, we are able to offer minor resizes. We will need to see the ring to be certain, but we are typically able to make adjustments up to a half size smaller and a quarter size larger.
Comfort Fit vs Standard Fit
There are two basic styles when it comes to how wedding rings fit: standard fit and comfort fit. Standard rings have a flat inner surface that sits snugly against your finger, while comfort fit rings have a beveled inside edge. This makes comfort fit rings easier to slide on and off, and for many ring wearers (especially men with thick fingers or large knuckles) makes them more comfortable.
Tell Your Story
Our ring artisans at Rustic and Main take pride in creating one-of-a-kind rings that incorporate a wide range of materials. We make our rings one at a time, with a hands-on process that maintains quality control while ensuring that no two rings are alike. By utilizing unique materials found in nature, we can make wedding rings that represent your interests and passions, all while looking great.
A wedding ring should always be personal, and there are materials out there for every type of guy. Customizing your wedding ring using nontraditional materials and modern designs, your alternative wedding band can tell your story the way you want it told. Contact us today to learn more about alternative men’s ring materials, styles and shapes and the customization options we offer!