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Modern Metals that Move

Titanium, tungsten carbide, stainless steel, and other contemporary metals have won a place in the cases (if not always the hearts) of most fine jewelers. We talked to retailers about what metals and vendors work for them and how they’ve grown this category into a surprisingly good business with enviable margins.

Although men’s jewelry and, in particular men’s wedding bands predominate, use of nontraditional metals in fashionable women’s jewelry is now growing too, aided by retailers searching for interesting styles at impulse price points.

pendant and earrings in hand-formed copper with 18k gold and champagne diamond

“Radiant Feather” pendant and earrings in hand-formed copper with 18k gold and champagne diamond by Alexandra Hart, suggested retail $1,770 and $600, (619) 286-9278,

Bands in titanium, stainless steel, platinum, and gold

Eric Riddlespurger, Liberty Jewelry Manufacturing, Timonium, Maryland

What Moves: “Most non-precious metal items we sell are men’s wedding bands. Even though we’re a manufacturing jeweler—we make onsite about 90 percent of what we sell—we don’t have the proper tools for casting titanium or tungsten. For those, we order from Stuller or Quality Gold.”

How We Sell It: “Customers who buy bands made of these metals are looking for lower cost or a certain aesthetic, such as a gun metal look. One of the drawbacks to titanium or tungsten is that you can’t resize the bands, you have to make new ones. That’s why I sometimes will show a design in sterling silver if cost is a concern. Or if they want that gun metal finish we can create a 14k or 18k palladium gold piece that is not rhodium plated.”

Bands in titanium, stainless steel, platinum, and gold from Stuller, suggested retail from $90, (800) 877-7777,

Men’s 6mm bands in titanium

George Fox, Fox Fine Jewelry, Ventura, California

What Moves: “We carry titanium and tungsten lines that do well with the younger generation, mostly men. Some don’t like the symbolism of wealth that gold connotes. They’re unusual and give the wearer something that stands out. They’re attracted by the fact that while I have a whole case of gold or platinum jewelry, I only have a tray of titanium or tungsten. Some like titanium’s lightness; others like tungsten’s heft. The designers we like are Rising Time, Jewelry Innovations, and Benchmark. Dora does a great gold and titanium combination, and even puts diamonds into titanium.”

How We Sell It: “I very much like the noble metals, so I have to put my personal feelings aside when customers ask for a different metal. I keep in mind that customers who ask for them love their lower price points and that I’m able to enjoy a large markup.”

Men’s 6mm bands in titanium from Benchmark, suggested retail $155, (800) 633-5950,

titanium and fancy sapphire bracelet

Ellen Hertz, Max’s, St. Louis Park, Minnesota

What Moves: “We focus on unique jewelry that’s hard to find anywhere else. Ninety percent of the designers and artists we carry are exclusive to us. I fell in love with John Hasselbalch’s Titasa—titanium and sapphire—bracelets when I sat next to a woman wearing one at a WJA function. It’s a go-anywhere style of bracelet that looks as good with jeans as it does with a little black cocktail dress. Titasa runs one, three, or five stones in a piece, with yellow, orange, red, blue, and green sapphires. The price point is good, too, depending on the number of sapphires: $795 to $2,850. Men also like the line.”

How We Sell It: “People like that what we sell here is exclusive and different. So they’re very inclined to be open to non-traditional metals when they see the workmanship and price. Combining titanium with sapphires creates a very attractive combination. Add to that the range of colors now available in sapphire, and people are intrigued.”

Titasa titanium and fancy sapphire bracelet by John Hasselbalch, suggested retail $2,850,

Titanium and 18k rose gold collection dogtag necklace

Philip Bosen, Fink’s Jewelers, Forest, Virginia

What Moves: “We sell tungsten and titanium wedding bands, primarily men’s. We’ve been doing this for five years and have seen steady growth. We’ve done well with David Yurman’s titanium line. About 50 percent of the purchases are made by women. I think that part of the appeal to women is that spending on a titanium or tungsten band leaves a couple more money to spend on the woman’s ring. Generally, women don’t like the darker colors of metals like titanium or tungsten; they still go more for gold or white metals. The mark-up is good on these metals: 2.5 to 3 times.”

How We Sell It: “Titanium appeals to men who like high-tech things. These are the guys who will spend $1,000 more to buy a $5,000 bike because it’s three ounces lighter than a $4,000 bike. They appreciate the metal’s lightness and price. On the other hand, there are men who like tungsten’s weight, so I have something for both groups.”

Titanium and 18k rose gold collection dogtag necklace, suggested retail $2,975, ring, retail $1,050, and cuff bracelet, retail $1,950, by David Yurman, (212) 896-1550,

Titanium and tungsten wedding bands

Laura Pinckney, State Street Jewelers, Geneva, Illinois

What Moves: “We’ve been selling Benchmark’s titanium, tungsten, and seranite men’s wedding bands for several years. Seranite is a proprietary ceramic-based material that a lot of men like because of its dark finish. Benchmark has the best selection of rings that we’ve found in these materials. The bands have attractive price points and leave room for a good markup.”

How We Sell It: “Titanium and tungsten wedding bands are very much a word-of-mouth thing. Most men are looking specifically for them, usually because they saw similar rings on somebody else and liked what they saw.”

Seranite bands from Benchmark, (800) 633-5950,

Titanium 7mm comfort fit wedding band with hammered finish

Harvey Rovinsky, Bernie Robbins Fine Jewelers, Somers Point, New Jersey

What Moves: “We’ve been selling it for five years and it’s steadily growing, but non-precious metal jewelry made from palladium, titanium, or tungsten is still a very narrow segment. The biggest category by far is men’s wedding bands. The only palladium we sell is in that category, made by Scott Kay. Two designers we like for titanium and tungsten are I.B. Goodman and Frederick Goldman.”

How We Sell It: “To be honest, if it’s not a precious metal, it doesn’t really appeal to me. But I do try to provide what customers want. An example is my son-in-law, who wears a titanium wedding band. It’s lightweight and he likes the non-bright, gun metal finish. The determining factors for those who buy jewelry made of those metals are price and looks.”

Titanium 7mm comfort fit wedding band with hammered finish from Diana by Frederick Goldman, suggested retail $185, (800) 223-4262,

Timothy Quigley, T.Q. Diamonds, Madison, Wisconsin

What Moves: “We sell titanium, stainless steel, tungsten carbide, and palladium. Ninety-nine percent of our sales in tungsten are to men. It’s not a look that women want. If I had to make a choice as to which of those I prefer to sell, it would be palladium and tungsten carbide. Palladium is relatively new and we’ve done well with it despite not yet having started marketing it formally. We carry Verragio’s palladium men’s wedding bands, which complements their gold and platinum wedding lines.”

How We Sell It: “The selling points for palladium are strong. It costs one-fifth what platinum does, yet provides almost the same look. We’re able to sell on three major points: price, platinum-like appearance, and 14k gold-like lighter weight.”

“In-Gauge” collection men’s 8mm palladium wedding band with a black enamel filler and princess cut diamonds by Verragio, suggested retail $2,000, (800) 837-7244,

Palladium bands

Pam Maruskin, Denig Jewelers, Columbus, Ohio

What Moves: “We’ve been selling tungsten, titanium, and stainless steel wedding bands for six years. They’re particularly popular with men, who like them for their durability and because metals like platinum are still so expensive. They’ve watched their fathers over the years scratch their gold or softer metal wedding bands and have decided they don’t want to take the risk with theirs. Palladium is our best seller in the category, with tungsten second. We like Scott Kay for palladium, and Frederick Goldman and Diana for tungsten.”

How We Sell It: “We have a nice display of the rings and men will ask about them and happily try them on. Men don’t come in with any preconceived notions about their wedding bands, so they’ll decide on the basis of feel, weight and heft, and look.”

Palladium bands from the “Javlin” collection by Scott Kay, suggested retail starting at $550, (201) 287-0100,

950 platinum ruthenium alloy

Micheal Nedler, Sonny’s on Fillmore, Denver, Colorado

What Moves: “We’ve been selling TrewTungsten rings for five or six years and have done very well. It has become a mainstay with men looking for wedding bands. Men like its feel, look, and scratch resistance. We also sell a stainless steel fashion line out of Germany, Teno, which combines rubber and stainless, or small diamonds or colored stones with stainless, at a good price point.”

How We Sell It: “We advertise our tungsten and stainless steel in print media and on radio, and we make it a point to show the tungsten rings to men when they come in. The selling points are pretty clear—less cost than gold or platinum, and the ability to create colors ranging from silver gray to black, and inlay a stripe of, say, platinum or diamonds. The steel line appeals to a younger, hip crowd that likes innovation.”

TrewTungsten “TTXP” textured tungsten carbide rings with platinum PVD, a 950 platinum ruthenium alloy molecularly bonded to the surface, from Trent West, (831) 334-1512,