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six silver bands with wooden inlay. Some of the inlays are deep red, others are light brown. The background is eucalyptus and black and white fern. The blog post is about the pitfalls of alternative wedding bands

Alternative Wedding Bands

While working in jewelry repair for a couple of years I was sometimes surprised at the materials people turned to for their wedding rings and bands.

I love non-traditional materials and I love new materials. What I do not love is telling someone that the ring they bought to last a lifetime, or to hand down to their child, is not going to last long, or that it cannot be re-sized.

I totally get why you’d turn to an unusual or alternative ring!

  • Sometimes you just don’t have much cash and you don’t want to start off your married life with a maxed-out credit card (though some of these unique bands can run you a pretty penny too!).  
  • Even if you have the money, you may simply be non-traditional. Your personal style leads you to other designs and styles.
  • Another factor can be how the ring was made, and where the materials were sourced. Sustainability sourced materials, and a living wage are two big passions of mine.

If your heart is set on an alternative wedding band, do your research!

Here are just a few of the materials that can cause you woes:

Wood: Wood is beautiful, interesting and it holds a lot of meaning to me. I like rings made of wood, but not for a wedding band.

True Story: A customer came into the shop, crushed that her wooden wedding ring was splitting. The Etsy seller assured her that it wouldn’t split, but that is the nature of the material. Wood expands, contracts, and can split. As an everyday piece of jewelry (especially on the hand where it gets lots of wear and tear, and exposure to washing with soap, water or chemicals in hand lotions and so forth) this can be a big problem.

If your heart is set on a wooden ring, then look into rings that are encased in resin (an industrial strength adhesive that is nontoxic can reinforce the ring). There are designers who use non-volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Also, look for designers who create rings using a single piece of wood to create the band so that the structure follows an uninterrupted, single-direction grain.

Another big problem can be: It can’t be resized! I repeat, it can't be resized.

You can also find rings with wooden inlay, or accents, rather than the entire ring being wood. Please keep in mind, those inlays can crack and fall out. You might be able to find someone to put new inlay in the band, but that's a big "if." The silver ring itself may be able to be resized, but the channel used to hold the inlay will have to be built up if you go up in size.


This is a great choice for a super active groom or bride. Also, if your job has you using your hands a lot or if there’s machinery that could snag your ring, this may be a great option. My friend is a hairstylist, and her silver ring stays “mushed” flat on one spot because she is constantly pressing brushes and blow dryers into it day in and day out.

Silicone can also be a good substitute ring. I often use a silver band as a substitute ring when I travel. That way I’m not worried about losing my sentimental, expensive wedding ring and engagement ring. If you’re off to a vacation where you’re swimming, snorkeling and being all sporty, this is a nice choice.

Again, as a forever ring, silicone will likely not last too long. And resizing is not going to be possible. 

Resin Rings:
Resin is a form of plastic, so it can't be resized.

Okay, okay you get the idea. There are just too many interesting and beautiful unique materials to list.

The three big takeaways:

can it be resized?      will it crack?     how do I take care of it?

If you aren't concerned about wearing it for a lifetime or passing it along to a friend or family member, you still need to be informed about the pros and cons of the material you choose, especially if it is expensive. Some sellers offer warranties (maybe for a fee) that include resizing, resealing and replacements.

 Here are just a few materials to get your creative, ring planning juices flowing:

Whiskey barrel rings, antlers, zirconium, Damascus steel, stainless steel, rubber, titanium and on and on and on.

Have fun looking at all the cool options!

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