Black metal suggestions? (for jewelry, not listening)
April 10, 2006 3:01 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a black, matte-finish metal for a durable men's ring. Ideas? Things to avoid?

Looking for a simple, subtle ring that's not shiny and is true black (but not looking for something goth or ubermasculine).

- Black titanium, although promising, wasn't true "PSP-case" black.
- A simple black rubber band isn't quite durable enough.
- Enameled steel looks tacky as heck and chips off.

I found black zirconium online, but the relative dearth of retailers selling it, blog posts talking about it, anything, sets off my bs meter a little bit.

Any suggestions on other metals that might fit the bill?
Any experience with black zirconium?
Any other wacky material I haven't considered?
Retailers that might be able to point me in the right direction?
posted by Gucky to Shopping (18 answers total)

My wedding ring is made of titanium (the regular silvery sort), and carbon fiber. The carbon fiber isn't quite black, but it's a really really dark grey. Still a touch goth maybe, but you can't get away from that with black jewelry.

This would qualify under your "wacky material" question, as it's more frequently used in things like tennis rackets. But it's black, and I think it looks pretty cool.
posted by malphigian at 3:21 PM on April 10, 2006

How about having a ring anodized.
posted by asparagus_berlin at 3:38 PM on April 10, 2006

I was just going to say anodized aluminum too.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:50 PM on April 10, 2006

Hematite? I don't think it's that durable though. But it's so cheap you could buy the rings in bulk and replace them if they break.
posted by TimeFactor at 3:54 PM on April 10, 2006

Yep, I think anodized aluminum is the only way to go. It's pretty durable, but if scratched the shiny aluminum beneath will be revealed.
posted by aladfar at 3:54 PM on April 10, 2006

Titanium (and possibly aluminum?) can't be resized. Just something to think of if this is going to be a wedding ring you'll want to have forever. Make sure to ask before getting one.
posted by voidcontext at 4:19 PM on April 10, 2006

Black frosted glass?
posted by ryanrs at 4:33 PM on April 10, 2006

Anodized aluminum is tough, but it isn't tough enough for jewelry.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 4:50 PM on April 10, 2006

Also, I'm not sure that anodized aluminum wouldn't eventually be corroded away (over a period of months or years) by human sweat.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 4:51 PM on April 10, 2006

My husband's ring is made of Tungsten. It's almost black, and, I think, would appear more black if it were matte. (Which I'm sure can be done).
posted by dpx.mfx at 4:57 PM on April 10, 2006

I would caution you against most of the titanium rings out there - they are made of a grade of metal that cannot be cut with conventional tools (see the resizing comment above). More importantly than resizing, if you injure your finger and cause it to swell, the ring cannot be cut off by the emergency room and you may lose the finger.

There are no jewelry grade black metals available, especially matte black. You have two choices. The first is to buy a gold band and have it antiqued. The antiquing will wear off eventually, but can be redone by a competent jeweler. The second, and more permament solution is to buy a white gold or platinum band and have it "black rhodiumed" - it's an electrical process that deposits a layer of dark rhodium ( a platinum group metal) on the surface. That too will wear off eventually, but it can be redone.

If it was my ring, I'd go the white gold-black rhodium route.
posted by Flakypastry at 5:17 PM on April 10, 2006

Hematite rings (no affiliation) are available, but I've personally broken more than one. They hold up to casual wear, but one good whack, and they'll break in half. I've never had one shatter, fwiw.
posted by ersatzkat at 6:22 PM on April 10, 2006

There aren't many naturally black materials that are durable. As for stones, obsidian is soft. Jet is brittle. As you knew/have had confirmed, methods to make metal black are not durable finishes. (In addition to the possible finger-loss, the finish on titanium often turns after constant contact with skin also.)

It's wood, not metal, but you could look into ebony. Watch your source, though, as many species are endangered.
posted by desuetude at 6:43 PM on April 10, 2006

I would recommend black diamond coated titanium. It is very durable and may have just the appearance you're looking for.

Titanium rings can be cut off in an emergency with no problem using either a manual ring cutter (~2 minutes) or an electric cutter (faster).
posted by nekton at 7:13 PM on April 10, 2006

i suggest titanium or tungsten alloys... both can be black and are very sturdy... in fact tungsten is almost scratch-proof... also both can be removed in an emergency medical situation, despite what others have said here...
posted by MonkNoiz at 7:52 PM on April 10, 2006

Flakypastry, please see this thread.
posted by staggernation at 9:55 PM on April 10, 2006

Hey, guys - I'm a jeweler. I've worked with metals for years. And yes, I've worked with titanium. Here's the deal - when titanium rings were first introduced, they were made in factories from aircraft-grade titanium, i.e. titanium alloyed with other metals to make it incredibly strong for use in the airline industry. This grade was very hard - if not impossible - to work with traditional jewelers tools (I broke quite a few expensive bits on it). In addition, ERs, which traditionally used pinch cutting tools to cut rings off didn't have the capability to get through the stuff.

As titanium in jewelry became more popular, additional grades became available for the jewelry industry that have higher percentages of Ti - and now pure Ti is available. It's still very hard, but it can be sawed with traditional tools, and yes, cut off in the ER.

The problem is that there are places that still sell jewelry made from the aircraft grade stuff, and there are still ERs in more rural areas that only use that pinch tool. So, caveat emptor - know what you're buying.
posted by Flakypastry at 3:24 AM on April 11, 2006

You might look into matte black chrome plating or matte black niobium, I've seen watches and pens and, like, motorcycle dongles (but not jewelry) in the former, piercing jewelry in the latter.
posted by nanojath at 9:09 PM on April 11, 2006

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