When choosing a metal for your engagement or wedding band, it’s important to consider whether the metal is tarnish resistant. This will ensure that maintenance is kept to a minimum and your ring will look shiny and lustrous for as long as possible.
Here’s a look at the top metals for wedding rings that don’t tarnish and what to do if you already have a tarnished ring.
What is tarnishing?
Tarnish refers to a chemical reaction that takes place on the surface of a metal when certain conditions are met. This results in a coating of corrosion on the outer layer of the metal which reduces the metal’s luster.
Tarnish is different from rust in that rust eats away at the metal, whereas tarnish only forms on a few top layers of the metal. This effectively protects the rest of the metal from reacting.
There are many ways to prevent tarnish occurring on metals.
Jewelry Metals That Don’t Tarnish
When buying engagement, wedding rings or other jewelry that you plan to wear frequently, tarnish resistance is an important consideration. This minimises the time you have to spend cleaning the jewelry while maximizing its luster and beauty.
Luckily, some metals simply don’t react to external conditions. These are called noble metals, as they resist chemical action. Here are the top metals used in jewelry which resist tarnishing.
Domed platinum ring. Check price HERE.
Platinum is among the most valuable and precious metals used in jewelry. It’s the most popular for wedding bands due to its durability, prestige and beautiful luster. It’s one of the rarest metals on earth and has been used in jewelry for several centuries.
Platinum is non-reactive and exposure to oxygen, moisture or air doesn’t affect it negatively. It maintains its luster and color, which is part of its eternal appeal.
Platinum does develop a patina over time, which gives platinum jewelry an aged, antique look. Some people love this while others have it removed. This patina is formed by scratches and dents in the metal which displaces the platinum. It can be removed by polishing the jewelry.
Palladium ring with grooved pattern. Check price HERE.
Palladium is part of the platinum group of metals and is highly valuable. It has an excellent white-silver hue and a stunning luster. Because of the recent hike in price of palladium, this metal is among the most prestigious and valuable metals today.
Palladium is slightly more durable than platinum, and more scratch resistant. It’s extremely resistant to tarnish, which makes it perfect for everyday wear.
However, palladium is very rare and not as popular as platinum, meaning that jewelry designs featuring this metal can be limited.
Brushed titanium wedding band by Vincent Faith. Check price HERE.
Titanium is an extremely tough, durable and tarnish resistant metal. It can be used as a substitute for platinum but is very affordable making it a good option for budget conscious shoppers.
Titanium doesn’t scratch which is why it’s a top choice for those who lead active lifestyles. In addition, because it doesn’t tarnish, it can be worn everyday with minimal maintenance required.
Despite its strength, titanium is very light, and many wearers say they barely feel their titanium rings on their finger. If you like the feeling of a solid, heavy ring, then titanium probably won’t feel very comfortable. Also, note that resizing a titanium ring can be next to impossible.
Hammered tungsten carbide ring. Check price HERE.
Much harder than titanium, tungsten carbide is the hardest metal used in jewelry. It’s also one of the hardest substances overall, ranking very close to diamonds on the Mohs scale at 9 to 9.5. It’s a heavy metal and feels substantial when you wear it.
Tungsten carbide is often called the ‘forever polished ring’ because it doesn’t tarnish, scratch or fade in any way. It can be worn every day with minimal impact on its surface. For the most affordable, durable option, tungsten carbide is probably your best bet.
However, like titanium, tungsten carbide too can’t be resized. In an emergency, it can be removed by shattering the metal with a pair of vice grip pliers.
Tantalum wedding ring by The Wooden Circle Co. Check price HERE.
Tantalum is similar to platinum albeit a little darker. It still falls into the white metal category with its shiny whitish hue and luster. Tantalum is highly durable and extremely scratch resistant. It can take heavy exposure and maintain its appearance.
This metal doesn’t tarnish or conduct heat. It’s highly workable and comes at a reasonable price. However, because it’s extremely rare, finding tantalum rings or jewelry can be difficult as not many jewelers tend to work with it.
Primary sources of tantalum are expected to run out in the near future, meaning that it could be an excellent way to get your hands on a unique metal.
Comfort fit matte cobalt wedding band. Check price HERE.
Very similar to white gold, cobalt is durable, tough and tarnish free. It resists scratching and denting and doesn’t corrode or rust. It’s also very affordable, compared to white gold and doesn’t require re-plating as white gold does. This makes it a very attractive alternative.
Because of its hardness, cobalt rings can be difficult to resize, and the design options aren’t as varied as white gold. It’s a safe material to wear and is hypoallergenic.
Polished stainless steel wedding band. Check price HERE.
Stainless steel comes in a variety of alloy types, but the one commonly used in jewelry is 316L stainless steel. The very word ‘stainless’ steel refers to the metal’s ability to resist staining and discoloring. It doesn’t tarnish and instead maintains its shine and luster.
Stainless steel is also highly affordable but it’s not valuable, so if you’re looking for a prestigious ring, this won’t be it.
The above list of metals are the most popular types of tarnish resistant metals used to create rings and other jewelry.
However, there are a few notable mentions that technically aren’t metals but are used to make rings:
Black ceramic ring. Check price HERE.
This highly durable, scratch resistant, tarnish free, hypoallergenic material is perfect for jewelry that looks beautiful and lustrous but comes at a low price point. It’s also lightweight and heat resistant. Ceramic rings cannot be resized and if dropped or hit with impact, they can shatter.
Carbon fiber inlay ring. Check price HERE.
One of the toughest materials used to make jewelry, carbon fiber is created by tightly weaving together fibers that create a material that looks like a metal but is extremely light and porous. It’s much lighter than even titanium. Carbon fiber can resist tremendous pressure, and is a space age material perfect for someone who loves science or the modern world.
How to Remove Tarnish from My Jewelry?
There are several ways of cleaning tarnish off metals depending on the level of tarnish and the type of metal you have. Here are some basic ways to get rid of tarnish:
- Soap and Water – Use a mild soap and warm water to clean your lightly tarnished jewelry items. Place the jewelry in the foamy water and using a brush or cloth, rub at the tarnish. Rinse and repeat if necessary.
- White Vinegar – Mix together equal parts of water and white vinegar, then dipping a cloth or a toothbrush in the solution and use this to rub or scrub the jewelry. Scrub gently so as not to damage the jewelry. Rinse it thoroughly at the end of the process.
- Baking Soda and Lemon – Cut a lemon in half and sprinkle a good amount of baking soda onto one half of the lemon. Use the lemon to rub the tarnished jewelry, with the baking soda acting as an abrasive to provide a little scrubbing action for the process. Alternatively, you can mix the lemon and baking soda to form a paste and then use a toothbrush or cloth to rub the jewelry. Rinse with warm water and dry thoroughly.
- Baking Soda, Vinegar and Aluminum Foil – This method is perfect for cleaning heavy tarnish. Line a pot or pan with aluminum foil, then add boiling water, salt and baking soda into the pan. Add vinegar and watch this react with the powders in the pan. Leave the jewelry in the pan for several minutes until the tarnish starts to come off. Rub any stubborn tarnish spots with a cloth if necessary. Finally, wash, rinse and dry thoroughly. This video below shows this method in action.