Brass is an ancient alloy that’s durable, affordable and very gold-like in appearance. When crafted into wedding rings, brass can look as beautiful as any precious metal. However, there are some downsides to a wedding ring made of brass so the question becomes:
Should you buy a brass wedding ring or avoid it altogether?
Let’s take a look.
What is Brass?
Brushed brass wedding band by Hand Carved Rings. Check price here.
Brass is an alloy made primarily of copper and zinc but may sometimes also contain metals like aluminum, arsenic and lead. The composition of brass can vary depending on the proportions of copper and zinc, which influences the color, durability and workability of brass.
As one of the oldest alloys, brass has had a lot of importance historically and has been used for over 2500 years. It has numerous uses, from weaponry and electrical applications to making musical instruments, decorative items and ornaments.
The warm tones of brass and its beautiful luster make it perfect for use in jewelry. Brass has been used to create intricate and detailed jewelry pieces in certain regions of the world, like India and Thailand, for centuries. It’s also an excellent non-traditional metal choice for wedding rings and is durable enough for daily wear.
Brass Color and Appearance
Yellow-gold brass wedding rings by Arketipo. Check price here.
Unlike bronze, which is more copper-like in appearance, brass looks very similar to gold and ranges from yellow to gold. At first glance, it’s easy to mistake it for yellow gold. This color is beautiful on any skin tone, but especially flatters warm skin tones with darker complexions.
Brass also complements other metals and gemstones beautifully, and can be combined to create different, attractive jewelry designs.
Because of its workability, brass is perfect for creating into elaborate jewelry pieces. For wedding rings, this means that there’s a lot of different finishes and styles you can expect.
Brass Wedding Band and Ring Designs
Brass is not the first choice most people think of when they think wedding rings. In fact, it’s so non-traditional that you’ll be hard-pressed to find brass wedding rings on regular jewelry retailers.
We suggest taking your search to platforms like Etsy and Amazon that offer a wide range of hand-crafted, unique brass wedding rings from individual designers and artisans.
Unlike bronze, brass can achieve a look very similar to gold. In fact, this is why it’s often called ‘the poor man’s gold’. Brass gives you the look without the cost. Here are some of our favorite brass wedding and engagement ring designs that show how versatile this metal is:
Burnished brass wedding band with high reflection. Check it here.
Intricate brass engagement ring with gemstone. Check it here.
14K gold plated brass ring with concrete inlay. Check it here.
Couple’s rustic wedding band with Greek design. Check it here.
These designs show the beauty and color of brass wedding bands. A brass wedding band gives you the perfect balance between price, appearance and durability.
Note that sometimes brass can be gold-plated to make it appear even more like gold. As with all types of plating, this can flake off over time so be aware of this before you buy as you may need to have the ring replated over time.
Another issue is that sometimes cheap base metals are plated with a brass coating to give it a gold hue. The trouble with that is that when the plating wears off, you’re exposed to low-quality base metals that could cause issues.
Here’s a quick tip:
How to know if your ring is solid brass or plated brass:
- Use a magnet to test the authenticity of your ring. If it’s solid brass, it will not react to the magnet, but brass-plated items will.
- You can also scratch a hidden corner of your ring with a sharp pin. If the color under the surface layer is also gold, you know its brass but if its white or gray, it’s a cheaper metal that’s been plated over.
The Pros and Cons of a Bronze Wedding Band
With all this being said, how do the pros and cons of brass wedding rings balance out? Here’s a look:
- Affordable – it’s not called ‘poor man’s gold’ for nothing. While brass might look like gold, it’s a much cheaper alternative with brass wedding bands selling for around $60 on average.
- Unique Color – you can have a color that’s very similar to gold to give you a rustic golden style. Brass can also be plated over with other popular wedding ring metal colors like rose or white gold.
- Durable – brass is harder than bronze and has a longer life. It’s known for its strength but at the same time it’s a very workable metal. Brass isn’t brittle and doesn’t rust or corrode. It stretches rather than breaks when under pressure or heat.
- Potential Health Benefits – brass jewelry is believed to have health benefits as it contains copper and zinc, essential nutrients for the human body. When you wear brass, it’s believed that necessary amounts of these nutrients are absorbed by the skin. Others believe that brass can ease headaches and issues associated with bones and joints, like arthritis or rheumatism. These haven’t been scientifically proven but there’s a lot of word of mouth that exists.
- Not Hypoallergenic – because of the zinc in brass, brass alloys aren’t hypoallergenic and can cause issues for those with metal sensitivities. However, brass is nickel-free.
- Tarnishing – brass will tarnish over time and develop a green patina that will give your ring an aged, unique look. Some people love this look – others hate it. It’s all a matter of preference. The reason this happens is due to the copper content in the brass, which reacts with air and moisture and oxidizes. As brass tarnishes, it loses its beautiful luster and golden hue. To avoid or postpone this, seal your brass with lacquer or a commercial sealant.
- Green Skin – brass can turn your skin green, because of the copper in the alloy. When the copper in brass gets into contact with your skin, it reacts with the sweat and body oils to create copper chelates. This gets absorbed by your skin and the extra chelates then oxidizes and discolors on your skin, staining it green. While this isn’t harmful, it just doesn’t look good and can be annoying to remove. You can avoid this by sealing the brass.
Cleaning and Caring for a Brass Wedding Band
Couples’ brass heart wedding bands by Wedding Rings for You. Check price here.
To keep your brass ring shining, it’s important to follow some basic measures and maintenance.
- For regular cleaning, use warm water and a mild liquid soap with a soft cloth. Clean your brass ring as you would your other jewelry but avoid anything harsh with too many chemicals.
- Always wipe your brass ring carefully before you store it as the moisture can cause tarnishing.
- You can remove patina that develops on the ring with organic household ingredients. We recommend lemon or vinegar and bicarbonate of soda and a little bit of elbow grease.
- To add extra shine to your ring, use wax or a polish that’ll keep it lustrous. This will also keep tarnishing at bay.
- Avoid your brass jewelry getting wet if you don’t like the idea of a patina. Remove the ring before you swim or do the dishes. However, if the ring does get tarnished, you can use a commercial cleaner like this one to clean off the patina.
Is a Brass Wedding Ring a Good Idea?
Jennifer, one of our readers, has this to say about a brass wedding band:
John and I knew that we wanted something different and practical. No one we knew had a brass wedding band and we liked the idea of something rustic. We dithered between brass and bronze and finally decided on brass because we liked its color more. We haven’t regretted it at all and we love our brass rings!
A brass wedding ring is not without its cons, but it’s a durable, affordable and stylish option if you want something unique.
Down the track, if you fall out of love with you brass wedding ring, you can always have the ring design upgraded to a yellow gold one and because the price of brass rings is affordable, this won’t break the bank.
There’s no reason not to opt for a brass ring, as long as you’re prepared to tackle (or love) the patina when it shows up.