Should You Buy a Cobalt Ring? And Is It a Good Alternative Wedding Ring?

Looking for the perfect place to buy cobalt rings online?

You're in the right place! In this Learning Jewelry guide, I'll answer common questions like:

  • What Is Cobalt?
  • What Are the Pros and Cons of Buying Cobalt?
  • What Should You Look for When Buying Cobalt Rings Online?
  • Is Cobalt Good for a Wedding Ring?
  • How Do You Know You're Getting a Good Deal?
Should You Buy a Cobalt Ring

Top 4 Best Places to Buy Cobalt Rings Online

If you need the list quick, here are my top picks for finding quality tungsten rings from reputable online dealers. 

  1. James Allen
  2. Blue Nile
  3. Zales
  4. Amazon

What Is Cobalt?

Cobalt is a lesser known metal that is used in variety of different things, but we know it most used as an alternative metal for men's rings. At its base, cobalt is a bluish white hard metal that is mined mostly from Africa. It is normally found when mining other natural metals like iron, copper, nickel, silver, etc. 

In ancient Chinese civilizations, it was used to build compounds. In Rome, cobalt was used for more aesthetic purposes, like blue glass for ceramics. Some forms of cobalt is used to make gamma rays for medical supplies and sterilization. In other places, it's sometimes used as fertilizer. 

The world's first introduction of cobalt as an alternative metal belongs to a Swedish chemist named George Brandt. What was previously thought as bismuth, Brandt proved it was another metal entirely in 1735. Cobalt gets its name from the German word "kobald", meaning evil spirit or demon. Apparently, the miners got a bad vibe from while mining the cobalt ore. 

But today, cobalt is no longer associated with superstitions and is a great option for a wedding band. Cobalt wedding bands are usually found at jewelry stores that carry other alternative metals like tungsten carbide, stainless steel, or titanium rings. 

Cobalt itself is a brittle, yet hard metal. It's also a transition metal, like tungsten, platinum, or silver. Transition metals periodic table elements that have electron in two shells instead of one, know as valence electrons. 

Pure cobalt's not able to be used in jewelry, so it has to be mixed with other metal alloy, similar to real gold. Cobalt alloy metals might include tungsten, iron, or chromium. If there's a lot of chromium in the mix, the metal might also be called cobalt chrome, which is the same thing as a cobalt wedding ring.

cobalt ring

Blue Nile Black Ceramic Center Inlay Wedding Bandin Cobalt

Pros and Cons of Buying a Cobalt Ring

Pros

There are many positives to choosing a cobalt ring for a wedding band. Let's check them out.

Appearance

Cobalt is one of the prettier metals, as opposed to other alternative metals. Normally, you have to throw in some black diamonds and carbon fiber inlay to snazz it up a bit. But cobalt chrome wedding rings have a fabulous luster when the light hits it, similar to a white gold ring. If you're wanting a sturdy, yet classy wedding band, cobalt chrome rings are an excellent choice. 

Read also>>Where to buy white gold jewelry online?

And even though the luster is great on a matte finish or brushed finish ring, there are other styles that include carbon fiber, wood inlays, two tone with other metals, and gemstones. Like most men's rings, you'll find the domed fit, comfort fit, and even the beveled style. Cobalt jewelry can be versatile in its appearance. 

Even though most people are looking for that bright white cobalt chrome, black cobalt is also highly sought after, just like black tungsten bands. 

Unfortunately, as with many alternative metal rings, it's difficult to find more women's cobalt rings or feminine styles for those who want the sturdiness of the metal, but not so much the industrial look.

cobalt appearance

James Allen Cobalt Chrome™ 7mm Comfort-Fit High Polished Design Ring

Durability

I mentioned before that cobalt is a brittle yet hard metal. Sounds like a bit of a conundrum, right? But when we're talking about natural minerals, hardness doesn't mean what you think it us. It doesn't mean how resistant the metal is to blows, dents, or breakage. Hardness refers to the scratch resistance. It's also the same in gemstones. 

As a metal, it reaches a 5.5 on the Mohs scale, which is the mineral scale of hardness. The hardness is about half the amount of a diamond, which is the hardest mineral known to man. A diamond reaches a 10 on the scale. Metals are more scratch resistant in general than gemstones, unless we're talking like pure gold. Cobalt is also scratch resistant, not scratch proof. 

Image by the National Park Service. Public Domain.

Keep in mind when wearing a cobalt ring that is two tone, such as a ring with a titanium or gold inlay. Both titanium and gold are much more likely to scratch. The cobalt will be safe, but the inlay might not. 

Cobalt isn't as tough or durable as tungsten or titanium, but it will definitely withstand daily wear and even active lifestyles. It doesn't bend or ever need to be reshaped and it won't chip or crack.

cobalt durability

Matte Modern Comfort Fit Wedding Ring

Cons 

As with any product in the jewelry world, there are going to be downsides to purchasing cobalt. Here are the cons of cobalt rings. 

Maintenance

One of the biggest issues with engagement rings or wedding bands made out of non-precious metals is the ability to be sized. You might even be surprised to know that some of these metals can actually be sized. However, most retailers won't offer resizing. Places like Kay's and Jared will have you exchange within their exchange policy to get a new size. 

Cobalt rings can be cut for emergencies, but jewelers won't be able to resize them. Most metals are too difficult to size or the cost to do so might outweigh the value of your ring.

So, wherever you're purchasing a cobalt ring from, just make sure that you're getting the right size, or that you can exchange if you find it doesn't fit right. This also goes for buying cobalt rings with stones in them. Unless the channel or the prongs are made of a precious metal, they can't be reset.

Availability

Finding decent cobalt rings is a bit difficult on the internet, if you haven't figured it out by now. It seems like everywhere you look, there's just pages and pages of tungsten carbide and titanium rings. 

Read also>> Should you buy a tungsten wedding ring?

Cobalt rings aren't super popular, which also makes them unique. However, most people aren't going to really mention your wedding band, as it looks like most other plain metal rings.

Because cobalt rings aren't high in demand, they don't have many intricate designs or catch any eyes. And just like tantalum rings, cobalt rings have very few feminine options other than decreasing the width. Women are once again, left out of this side of the jewelry world. 

Are Cobalt Rings Expensive or Cheap?

One of the biggest factors in choosing an alternative wedding band is affordability. So, are cobalt rings affordable? Depends on your idea of affordable.

Is it as much as gold or platinum rings? Not usually. Exceptions to that might be if the width of a gold band is much less than the cobalt ring, if it's two-tone, or if it has diamonds or gemstones. 

But in general, cobalt rings are priced between $50 and $400 dollars. You can shoot over to Amazon and find a cheaper cobalt rings, but you might have a hard time finding actual cobalt.

expensive or cheap

Cobalt Chrome™ 9MM Stair Step Comfort Fit Ring

If shopping on Amazon for cobalt jewelry, make sure you're paying attention to the descriptions and specifications. Mostly non-cobalt options come up in your search, despite typing it. You'll see tungsten and titanium galore. 

Also keep in mind that more expensive cobalt rings are usually a bit fancier, or are created by a high quality brand. You might notice that with titanium and tungsten rings online as well. You can pay $25 to buy a cheap tungsten band, but it's probably cheaply made as well.

Some metals are built stronger than others, have better techniques when forming, etc. This isn't the case always, but it happens a lot. 

Why You Should Get a Cobalt Ring

If you're still not sure about if you should buy a cobalt ring, here's 3 more reasons that might help sway your decision. 

1. Weight

If you're new to wearing rings, finding a comfortable alternative metal wedding band can be a bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. One of the biggest complaints about tungsten bands is that it's too heavy. One of the biggest complaints about titanium wedding bands is that they are too light. 

But cobalt wedding bands? They're just right. Cobalt rings have an average weight, similar to the weight of wearing a gold wedding ring. If you're not used to rings, it still might feel a little weird, but the weight balance will help you get used to it. 

2. Hypoallergenic Options

Even though cobalt is classified as a reactive metal, it's usually not the cobalt itself, but the other mixtures. Nickel has long been the leader of metal allergies and very few jewelry manufacturers are still alloying it. 

If nickel is what you're allergic to in the metal, you can find nickel-free cobalt rings. They just may be more difficult to find and you might have less options for ring designs. 

That being said, just because on average its the nickel content that causes the reaction, some people do still have allergies to the cobalt. And if you didn't know that you had metal allergies until after wearing a cobalt wedding band, it could even be both.

Keep in mind, it's much less likely that you're allergic to the cobalt. Allergic reactions from it are usually minor dermatitis. 

3. Low Maintenance

Most alternative metals used for wedding rings don't require a lot of care. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't ever clean your jewelry. You should clean cobalt rings with warm water and a mild soap.

You can soak it for around 15 minutes in a mixture of the two, or just rinse it under the water. Using a soft bristled brush like a toothbrush, brush away the dirt. Make sure to get the soap in between the metal of grooved rings or cobalt wedding bands with gemstones. 

Even though cobalt chrome wedding bands may look like white gold wedding bands, it doesn't require the care they do. All white gold jewelry has to be rhodium plated. Rhodium plating is what makes white gold have its silvery appearance.

cobalt ring at James Allen

Cobalt Swirl Finish Center With Polished Round Edge

Over time, natural oils, dirt, and daily wear will cause the rhodium to fade. The white gold will have a slight yellowish appearance and need to be replated. 

And unless you have a lifetime warranty that covers rhodium plating, it could be costly. The price of rhodium plating can range from $40 to $120. That's also why we recommend buying white gold jewelry from an online retailer with a lifetime warranty.

If you're looking at cobalt chrome wedding bands because you like that they look like white gold, you'll be glad to know that cobalt chrome rings, alongside platinum rings, keep their silvery appearance indefinitely. 

Cobalt won't tarnish, so it's okay to wear in the water. However, we don't recommend wearing any type of fine jewelry in the shower and especially not in the pool. 

Read also>> What should you know about rhodium plating?

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