Metal finishing is the final step in the manufacturing process used to provide aesthetics and environmental protection. It is also used to reduce surface roughness beyond the capabilities of machining operations for parts that must mate or seal. It also includes methods of metal cleaning, descaling, deburring, etc. For the purposes of this blog, we will steer away from the great variety of metal finishing utilized for NON wedding ring projects, like plating, sherardizing, etc. As a gear-head, motor-head, knifemaker, machinist, metal-man nut, Scott Richter (our Minter & Richter Designs Ring Maker) has a great love of all metals and all types of finishing - but for now, let's stick to your rings. In general, the term finish refers to the state of the metal on your ring from super shiny mirror finish down all the way to Sandblasted and HandBeaten.
Scott showing some customers how he will finish their wedding rings
Titanium is the absolute best metal for wedding rings because it finishes so well and its ability to hold its finish over time far exceeds that of softer metals. Titanium wedding rings are sought after due to their durabiltiy and low weight. While the scratch resistance of gold rings greatly underperforms their high prices, titanium wedding rings have a ruggedness that exceeds all other ring making metals at a fraction of the price. Below are some of the benefits of selecting titanium wedding bands over wedding rings made by traditional, lesser metals found in factory jewelry stores.
1. Titanium as a modern graphite grey color in contrast to gold's traditional yellow hues. Like gold rings, titanium wedding bands are also available in a variety of finishes. Unlike gold, titanium can be anodized a great variety of bright hues through anodizing.
2. Titanium is several times harder than gold and slightly harder than platinum even! As a result, it will resist scratches far better than both. Further, titanium is not so hard that it will shatter, like Tungsten Carbide. So it is the perfect mid range metal for both durability, inlay ability, and finish.
3. The weight of titanium is classified as "featherlight," hence one of the reasons it is used in aircraft manufacturing. In addition to being lightweight, titanium is very strong. The strength to weight ratio of titanium is the best of any metal. As a result, titanium wedding bands will not fracture or break, and while gold rings can bend out of shape easily, titanium's superior strength will keep the ring intact.
But again, the absolute best quality of titanium is its ability to be both super durable and yet take a large variety of finishes - see below.
The Six Major Ring Finishes Available for Titanium Wedding Rings
The number one thing to mull over when choosing a finish for the titanium or steel in your wedding ring is just your own personal style. Take a look at your watch, your sunglasses, any other favorite jewelry items... you will most likely be able to discover what finish you like best by just doing that. When people come in to our Minter & Richter Designs Studio for Ring Consultations, I always take note of the finish on anything metal they are wearings and it is always a great indicator as to what finish they will want on their rings. The one exception to that rule is primarily for women who are already wearing a diamond or other engagement ring. She will most likely want to pick a finish for her wedding band that matches the finish on her engagement ring so that her two rings work well together. If you don't want to read details, here's a brief synopsis.
1. Mirror Finish - super shiny
2. Satin Finish - more matte
3. Glass Bead Blast Finish - hyper matte
4. Sandblasted Finish - dark and velvety
5. Wire-Wheeled Finish - scritch scratch
6. Hammered Finish - itty bitty indents
7. Hand Beaten Copper - beaten all to hell
Mirror Finish is the most popular of all finishes for wedding rings, especially for women. I can say that because I am a woman. Let's face it ladies, we like things shiny. That is the main reason the diamond has turned into a multi-gagillion dollar industry. The shinier and brighter the better, am I right?!
Of course, that doesn't mean ALL women want mirror finish or that no men want mirror finish. But in general, women tend to go for more shiny rings, while men tend to keep it a little more on the down low with a satin finish or darker. Mirror Finish is highly reflective and has a fun, celebratory feel. It also provides a great contrast to almost every inlay.
Mirror Finish on Minter & Richter Designs Beluga Wedding Ring
Various abrasive methods are used to reduce surface roughness in metals after machining. Roughness is measured in micro-inches with about the most exacting machining processes (reaming, broaching) producing surface finishes of 16-125 µ-in. Precision or fine grinding can reduce surface roughness to 8-16 µ-in. using abrasive wheels or mounted points. Beyond that, abrasive powders are used in combination with leather or felt wheels to polish (1-32 µ-in.) and buff (0.5-16 µ-in.) as required. We do all our metal polishing manually. This process that reduces surface roughness also increases a metal’s luster as reflected light is scattered less from smoother surfaces. Thus, these same methods are often employed simply for improving surface aesthetics.
Satin Finish is just one step down from Mirror Finish. There is still just a bit of shine, but the metal is not reflective. In my 25 years of experience in this business, though trends come and go, Satin Finish is definitely the number one choice for most men. Still fun and celebratory, but you've turned the music down just a notch. Satin finish still highlights the inlay material, but it also provides a warmer feel over all aesthetically.
Gorgeous Satin Finish on When Lightning Strikes Wedding Ring
Glass Bead Blast Finish & Sandblasted Finish
For those interested in taking an extra jump into a hyper matte feel, Blast Finishing is definitely dreamy. How we do it is in the name! We literally take your ring, put it in a box and blast it with either glass beads or sand under extreme pressure. Glass Bead Blasting is one step more matte than satin finish and results in a soft textured feel that is slightly lighter in color than Sandblasted Finish. A blasting machine looks similar to this beauty below.
Glass Bead Blasting / Sand Blasting Machine
Blast machinery, such as sand-blasting machines, is typically employed in projects requiring a uniform matte texture. The blasting process forces sand, or glass beads onto a substrate at high speed. This results in a smooth, clean, velvety feeling ring. We particularly like the feel of sandblasting on the interior of a ring, as it feels less sticky than a mirror interior can sometimes feel in a hot environment.
Coco Loco Wedding Ring with Sandblasted Interior for a velvety feel
Glass Bead Burst for a slightly brighter shine than Sandblasted - Glass Bead Burst
Wire Wheeled Finish is sometimes called Orange Peel finish as it somewhat leaves the titanium with a finish that resembles the texture of an orange peel. You can especially see this on titanium as below. Wire Wheel is great when you have a large amount of metal on the exterior of the ring and is not suggested for rings that have thin titanium or copper edges. You need a little room to really be able to appreciate the Wire Wheeled Finish.
Sanctum Wire - Wire Wheeled Titanium Wedding Ring
Soul Dome with a Wire Wheel finish on the copper
Hammered Finish is also a wonderful choice for rings that have a lot of metal on the exterior of the ring. Hammered finish rings disperse light beautifully and provide a great point of interest on the ring.
Bog - Hammered Exterior Ring by Minter + Richter Designs
Hand Beaten Copper Finish
Nothing takes a good beating like Copper. One of our most popular titanium wedding rings for folks who beat the hell out of their hands all day is our Beaten Copper Ring. If you start with a ring that is beautifully damaged, it will only get more and more beautiful as life goes on. Take note, the interior titanium is not damaged and you will be hard pressed to ever damage it. But the copper is perfectly and beautifully damaged, like, perhaps, a great piece of art. Though the ring may look like we just tie it to the back of our truck and drag it across the city, Hand Beating is actually a very meticulous and even dainty process. We literally take a tiny hammer and beat it and scratch it until we are satisfied with the look of the ring.
Scott's hands beating Copper Smackdown
Minter & Richter Designs Hand Beaten Copper Titanium Ring
No matter what finish you choose, we look forward to making your Custom Wedding Ring any way you like it. Reach out to Minter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-326-6671 with any questions at all. We are always here and happy to help!