Metals have been a common material used in making contemporary jewelry and they play a major role in determining durability, cost and appearance. The most common types of metals used in jewelry making include; gold, silver and platinum. Jewelry made from these precious metals are both attractive and durable, however, quite expensive. Luckily, alternative metals for jewelry wear made using very strong, scratch resistant and hypoallergenic metals offer an affordable alternative for men’s jewelry and wedding bands to suit all customers who wear jewelry daily.
*** At WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear, we take an alternative route to traditional jewelry and use Mild Steel and Stainless Steel (see below for more information).
Here are some of the best alternative metals for jewelry:
Titanium is lightweight Metal making it a great material for wedding jewelry, particularly men’s wedding bands. Anodized titanium commonly features satin and polished finishes with great color options such as grey, silver and black. Titanium jewelry is hypoallergenic and has no alloys. Unfortunately, it cannot be resized.
Cobalt is a natural white alloy marketed as a fashionable alloy for bridal jewelry. Cobalt is extremely durable and hypoallergenic. Interestingly, cobalt is 4 times harder than platinum. Furthermore, cobalt has the same appearance of platinum (bright white metal). Importantly, cobalt is scratch resistant and can be easily resized.
Tungsten metal fashions brilliant rings which display a hard-looking shine. It's silvery and 4 times harder than titanium. This pure and hypoallergenic element is ideal for jewelry, however, tungsten wedding bands require maintenance due to the metal's hardness. Tungsten rings cannot be resized.
Copper is one of the oldest known metals. Becaue of its hardness, it's great for stamping and wrapping. This metal is also corrosion resistant; however, uncoated copper can form patina (a green or blue color change) after being used for some time. Interestingly, its jewelry has been considered to have healing properties.
This entrant is quite a surprise. Tantalum may be one of the rarest alternative metals, but its jewelry is outstanding and becoming more popular. Tantalum has a special heat and wear-resistant property; it cannot shatter compared to other contemporary metals.
Aluminum contains bauxite (chief ore) making it a durable, non-magnetic, lightweight and soft metal that is resistant to corrosion and easy to reshape.
Brass is a metal alloy of zinc and copper. It has a gold-like appearance similar to bronze and is commonly used due to its long wear. The metal oxidizes to patina over time.
***WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear uses brass chain and swivel clips with a gunmetal finish for our chains and key chains.
This metal alloy of tin and copper often exhibits a distinct golden color with green traces.
This type of steel contains several alloys with carbon which make up a trace portion. The higher the content of carbon, the more tough and brittle it becomes. It tends to rust or oxidize in moist environments if not sealed.
*** Mild Steel
Mild steel is a type of carbon steel which has low carbon content, therefore is softer and more easily manipulated. It is one of the more popular steel types used in various types of metal products as it is less expensive than stainless steel, it is weldable and is durable. It is often used in gates, fences, auto parts etc.
Mild Steel is the type of steel that we use at WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear. We use a plasma cutter (that will be another blog post) to cut the steel, then grind it so it has smooth edges and a nice finish. We then powder coat it for a glossy finish and to protect it from rusting. We use this process on our belt buckles, key chains and money clips. For our ornaments, we love the rusty, rustic look, so we use the same type of metal, but allow those to rust then spray seal them so the rust doesn't rub off.
Custom gates and doors created out of mild steel and rusted by Jon WATTO Watson. Custom work can be found at
The Metal Gardener website. http://www.themetalgardener.com/
*** Stainless Steel
The biggest difference between stainless steel and mild steel is that mild steel contains carbon and stainless steel contains chromium. The chromium allows the stainless steel to resist rusting and is quite hard, therefore it can be cut very thin and still remain durable.
At WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear, we use stainless steel for our mini earrings. The beauty of stainless is that it can look similar to sterling, but does not tarnish and does not require the maintenance that sterling requires. We love that the stainless can be cut so thin that it makes our charms almost weightless.
This metal is an alloy of tin, zinc, copper and nickel. Imitation rhodium is often used to coat or finish jewelry created and shaped in base metals.
This pure element is strong, flexible and hypoallergenic making it perfect for metal jewelry. It has a natural, neutral grey color but can be colored through the anodizing process.
This alloy of nickel, zinc and copper has been used as a popular material in "Native American jewelry" and German metal jewelry. Nickel is silver in color, similar to sterling silver, but has a slightly grayer tone.
*** WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear uses nickel money clips for the base that we glue to our handmade charms.
This is an alloy of tin and small proportions of other metals, generally bismuth or copper antimony. This comparatively soft metal has a striking silver-grey color. It can be finished or plated with gold, copper or silver.
Gunmetal alloy does not corrode from salt water or steam. The alloy is derived from zinc, bronze and copper, and was originally used in making guns. It's black chrome finish, with neutral grey background and purplish and bluish tinges, is commonly used as jewelry material.
*** At WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear, we use a gunmetal finish for our chains to give it a cool "rocker" inspired vibe. It works well with the color of the metal we use. We also us a gunmetal finish for our key chain swivel clips.
Thanks to Tiffany C, Smyth of JewelryAllure.net for her article on various metal used in jewelry. http://jewelryallure.net/why-authenticity-matters-with-native-american-jewelry/
*** Additional parts with " *** " were added by WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear.
Photos property of WATTO Distinctive Metal Wear.