A few years ago, companies started offering men’s wedding bands made of alternative metals—titanium, tungsten and stainless steel. These metals are not considered “precious” (not rare) and manufacturers figured that if they advertised their rings as tougher and more rugged they would appeal to men who wanted something different, and get the cash registers ringing. Since all the metals are more scratch resistant than any precious metal, it wasn’t too hard a sell to get men to bite. Also, even at 300% to 500% markups for the jeweler, the rings were in many cases one fourth the price of platinum or gold. Men ate them up, at first, until they started looking around and noticed that since the price point was so cheap, any Tom, Dick or Harry could afford one…and did! The bag-boy at the supermarket could have one; the janitor that cleaned his office; and the caddy that carried his golf clubs (all probably made of titanium). Understandable, a wedding band is a very personal purchase and most of us like to have something unique and special and even a little expensive, so we won’t see the same ring on all our buddies. Quite simply, it turned out that quite a few men take great pride in their wedding bands and what they signify. So, what happened to the alternative metal wedding band business? It collapsed quicker than an air bag after a head on collision. The sad part was (with the exception of stainless steel and tungsten) titanium actually made for a pretty cool wedding band; gun-metal in color, matte finishes as well as gold inlays and light as a feather! (See photos.)
Within five minutes you’ll actually forget you have it on! Note: I’ve never liked stainless steel because it sounds and looks common and has a high mirror finish which I think looks too flashy. My problem with tungsten is that the metal is just too damn hard! Its melting point is over 1700 degrees Celsius. If your finger was ever hurt and swelled up, the ring could not be cut off. The only way to get it off would be with large vice grip locking pliers that could crack your bones at the same time they’re trying to break the ring. No ring is worth losing a finger over. Anyway, titanium really wasn’t such a bad idea, but died off with the rest of the alternatives a couple of years ago.
Like the phoenix that rose from the ashes, companies like Benchmark (big company) realized that titanium was a good product but just marketed wrong. A titanium men’s wedding band never should have been marketed as the new Rolls Royce band for a man with discerning taste; it should have been marketed as a back-up ring–”work-out ring” if you will. A man shouldn’t have just the one spectacular, platinum, hand-made wedding band, but a titanium band as well that he can wear when he’s tinkering on the car, working out at the gym or even swimming. Titanium should never have been marketed as the #1 ring but the ring you don’t care if you mess up. A fun, comfortable ring that lets your wife and everyone else know you are “taken” but feels like you have nothing on! I’ve even talked to guys who golf and say it didn’t affect their grip on the club. At an average cost of $100, compared to a top, hand-made, platinum, comfort fit band that can run north of $2000, titanium has finally found a home as “the work-out ring.” A light-weight, hypo-allergenic, durable ring a guy puts on when he doesn’t want to hurt his prized platinum wedding band.
Titanium is the ninth most common element in the Earth’s crust. It is also found in meteorites, the moon and the sun. It is hard, resistant to corrosion, has a high melting temperature and is lightweight. Its strength is similar to steel, but is 45% lighter. Because of its incredible strength, it is used to make armor plated vehicles for the military. Titanium has been found to be quite compatible with the human body, thus is often used in surgical instruments and medical implants. Titanium was named by M.H. Klaproth after the Titans, the giant sons of Uranus and Gaea. Greek Mythology has it that they set out to rule Heaven, but were defeated by Zeus.
Written by Fred Cuellar
Research by Rachel Richards
(All photographs were taken by acclaimed photographer and artist Ricky Fernandez)