A small sampling of our two tone wedding bands and two tone engagement rings!
Two Tone Wedding Bands: An Introduction
If you are in the market for two tone engagement rings or two tone wedding bands, you’ve probably already discovered that two tone rings range from either mass-produced inexpensive designs to the exquisitely handmade.
But, there are a lot more factors to in a two tone band than surface appearance. Buying a two tone engagement ring is not as simple as purchasing a classic wedding band.
Any purchase of a two tone wedding rings involves not only two tone ring designs but metal choice. If you are considering two tone white and yellow gold engagement rings, should you use 14K or 18K gold for each? Or platinum and silver? And what about two tone rose gold engagement rings?
What are the best precious white metal options and what metals can be fused?
Another important consideration: where and how is the two tone ring band made? A sweat shop in China or a small American made studio?
We’ve been making two tone wedding rings since 1995. This article on two tone engagement rings and wedding rings.
In this article, perhaps the most comprehensive information pm two tone wedding bands you’ll find online in one place. We cover four general areas: Gender, Metal Choice, Fabrication, and perhaps most importantly, ethics.
No one wants to wear a two tone wedding band that destroy an entire ecosystem.
Best of all, you’ll learn insider information that many jewelers would not tell you because it goes against their financial interests.
TWO TONE WEDDING RINGS: GENDER ISSUES
1. What Distinguishes A Women’s Two Tone Wedding Ring From Men’s Two Tone Wedding Rings?
Here’s the quick answer to this question: if a woman wears a two tone wedding ring, or a two tone engagement ring then it is a two tone women’s ring!
The same applies to a man, or to anybody else. There really is no difference between our two tone wedding bands for her and two tone wedding bands for him.
Your personal preference two tone wedding ring or mixed metal engagement ring is your choice alone. The most important issue is what feels right to you.
Keeping all this in mind... what traditionally distinguishes two tone men’s wedding rings from women’s two tone wedding rings comes down to two issues: width of the wedding ring and style.
Thus, two tone wedding rings sets for a husband and wife might feature similar bands that differ only in width.
2. Width of Two Tone Wedding Bands for Her and for Him
Are these two tone wedding rings for her or for him? Up to you!
Men’s hands are, more often than not, larger than women’s hands. Therefore, men’s two tone wedding bands are generally wider than women’s.
Based on my experience as a jeweler for over twenty-five years, two tone men’s wedding rings are generally between 5mm and 8mm.
Most two tone wedding bands for women have a width of between 2mm and 5mm. This smaller size is not just because of the generally smaller size of women’s hands compared to men’s. It also has to do with the preference of many women to wear their two tone wedding bands with their diamond two tone engagement rings, together known as two tone bridal ring sets.
Width is definitely something to keep in mind when shopping two tone wedding bands for her!
This two tone bridal set, consisting of an engagement ring and matching wedding band, was handmade in our studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This set features two models from our Flores Wedding and Engagement Ring Collection.
TWO TONE WEDDING BANDS: STYLE CONSIDERATIONS
3. Styles Of Two Tone Wedding Bands
The style of a two tone wedding band is obviously a highly personal choice, but it can be helpful to have a bit of historical perspective.
The first recorded wedding rings were exchanged in Egypt, about 6000 years ago. They were made of braided hemp. Ancient scrolls recently deciphered indicate that, during the nine plagues, couples cut off their bands and smoked them—just to relieve a little stress. (Just kidding!)
Seriously, though—even back then, wedding bands were a sign of commitment between two people, and also the community that witnessed the exchange. The styles of their rings were a reflection of the culture and the times.
These days, two tone wedding bands are both deeply personal and public because they represent a vow to one’s partner witnessed by the broader community.
Regardless of the style of one's two tone wedding ring, all wedding rings are innately symbolic simply because of their circular shape. The circle itself represents relationship, wholeness, unity, and connection to the greater “circle of life.”
There are an infinite number of men’s two tone wedding band and women’s two tone wedding band styles, but we can break these into two broad classifications for simplicity: classic and designer.
One of our mixed metal wedding rings, our Marcello wedding ring is shown here in sterling silver borders and base with 18K yellow gold center. This ring can be made with wide or narrow bands, different metals and colors including rose gold, and with different textures on the metal, depending on your preference.
4. Classic Two Tone Wedding Bands
For some couples, the choice of two tone wedding bands is simple: a variation of a classic band. These bands stylistically lean toward the traditional wedding band, without design on the surface of the ring. They are variations of a timeless style which most likely your parents, grandparents, and even your great grandparents wore.
Within this traditional style, a two tone wedding band can be made with the metal flat topped or dome topped. At Reflective Jewelry, because we make these rings in house by hand, we can alter the width. The top surface of the two tone ring can be squared off or rounded at the edges.
The Windsor Ring, left, and King’s Ring, right, represent two distinct variations of classic two tone mixed metal wedding rings.
Regardless of what classic two tone wedding band style is chosen, it will be a minimalist yet elegant representation of your loving commitment.
5. Designer Two Tone Wedding Bands
If are open to two tone wedding bands that have more unique designer elements, then the actual wedding bands' surface becomes a canvas upon which jewelers can create captivating design motifs. The wider the band, the more room for a design or pattern!
Perhaps you and your partner are entranced by the beauty and wonder of the night sky. Then, for you, our two tone wedding band inspired by Van Gogh’s masterpiece "The Starry Night" might be the perfect choice:
Two variations from our Starry Night Wedding and Engagement Rings Collection — a wide, bordered, two tone wedding ring with diamonds (left) and a thin, gold engagement ring (right).
A two tone wedding band can actually represent some essential talismanic quality in a relationship, while at the same time remind us of our cultural connections. The lines in the Narrow Two Tone Celtic Arches Wedding Ring represent two paths weaving together:
Our Narrow Two Tone Celtic Arches Wedding Ring. The knotwork on this Celtic two tone wedding ring pattern illustrates a dynamic creativity that reaches up toward the heavens, and then down to the Earth. Pictured left with 14K Yellow Gold borders and White Gold center, and right with 18K Yellow Gold center and White Gold borders.
Explore our Celtic Arches Collection.
Our Bordered Rope Wedding Ring, another two tone ring from our Celtic Wedding Ring Collection, is a simpler design that is nonetheless profound. Two lines weave together in an unbroken cycle, mirroring the journey of romantic partners:
One of our best loved mixed metal wedding bands, our Bordered Rope Wedding Ring is pictured here with 14K Gold borders and Sterling Silver center. Explore our Rope Collection.
You can also choose to have a more pictorial motif, such this two tone wedding band design featuring a floral motif:
Our Borderless Persephone Wedding Ring with Gems, one of our two tone wedding rings with diamonds, is shown here with 18K Yellow Gold design over 14K White Gold Base. Explore our Persephone Collection.
6. Two Tone Wedding Band Style Recommendations
You two tone wedding band choice comes down to what is more important to you between the various factors of width, style, and design. There are no fixed or absolute rules.
If you see something that you like but isn’t quite right, and you are working with a custom jeweler that specializes in two tone wedding bands, then it is often possible to vary the width of the design to accommodate wearing a wedding ring and two tone engagement ring at the same time.
You can also mix and match style elements in order to accommodate a common motif. For example, our Flores Collection—which features many two tone wedding rings for her and him as well as two tone gold engagement rings—can be modified basically any way you desire, and is shown on our site in a huge range of styles.
One distinct advantage with working with a designer studio is that you can vary the widths, and create custom two tone wedding bands to match your desires.
Our two tone Celtic Link Wedding Ring.
MIXED METAL TWO TONE WEDDING RING OPTIONS: PRECIOUS METAL
7. And The Best Metal For A Two Tone Wedding Ring is...
The best precious metal choice for a two tone wedding ring can be a difficult decision. You are not just choosing one precious metal, but two!
Yellow gold paired with white gold is the most popular two tone choice. We also work extensively with silver as a contrasting metal with gold.
Rose gold is not as common, but still a desirable choice in mixed with white or yellow gold. The pairing of 18K yellow or 14K white and rose golds are complimentary.
Left, our Bordered Rope two tone diamond ring with yellow gold and white gold. Right, our Wind and Waves two tone wedding ring with white and rose gold.
Our Flow mixed metal wedding ring design, one of our favorites, is a two tone engagement ring with rose gold and yellow gold. This beauty is also available as an interlocking two tone bridal set.
As for natural white metals, we’ve made many customers happy with a two-tone wedding ring with platinum bands or design paired with yellow gold.
Palladium, a natural white metal in the platinum family, used to be a sound option for wedding rings, but it has become far more expensive than platinum, so we no longer recommend it.
Silver is also a fine white metal choice in combo with yellow gold.
To understand the distinct advantages and disadvantages for a two tone wedding ring, based upon hardness, cost, and the actual whiteness of the metal, we have to start with the basics.
8. Two Tone Wedding Ring Metals 101
You might have heard that 18K is more desirable than 14K gold. But is that really true?
When jewelers discuss gold wedding rings, they speak in terms of “karat.” The word "karat" is a variation of the word "carat," which originated in ancient Greece, where carob seeds—which are rather consistent in weight—were used as a unit of measurement.
"Carat" has become a unit of weight in the measurement of precious gemstones, while "karat" now refers to the percentage of gold in jewelry.
Twenty-four karat (24K) is .999 pure gold. An 18K wedding ring would be 75% gold, while a 14K gold wedding band would be 58.5% gold. The balance is various alloys, which we will discuss below.
Jewelers will almost always recommend 18K gold because it is more profitable for them.
But here’s what’s really important:
Gold in itself is a very soft metal. The more it is alloyed, the harder, less expensive and less gold in color it becomes—which is why we recommend 14K white gold for two tone wedding rings.
9. Two Tone Wedding Ring Metal Recommendations
If you’re using yellow gold, go 18K because of its illustrious warmth and radiance.
Using 18K yellow gold is also more expensive, but as long as you can afford it, the expense over a lifetime might be worth it to you.
For rose gold, you can go either 14K or 18K. Keep in mind that the 14K has more rose color and will be harder and less expensive. The 18K rose gold has a more yellow rose color, which is also beautiful but more subtle.
Our Felicity two tone wedding rings, handmade in our Santa Fe studio, come in a range of style and color options. Explore our Felicity Collection.
Platinum, which is the most expensive white metal option, is also an excellent choice paired with 18K yellow gold.
We have also been making two tone engagement rings in silver for fifteen years. They hold up well, look wonderful and of course, silver is a much less costly material than gold or platinum.
These two tone mixed metal wedding bands demonstrate the differences between 14K and 18K. On the left, our Narrow Bridges ring with 14K white gold and 14K yellow gold. On the right, the same ring with 18K white gold and 18K yellow gold. Notice how 18K yellow gold is brighter than 14K, and how 14K white gold is more “white” than 18K.
Ultimately, whether to choose 14K or 18K gold for your two tone wedding rings or two tone engagement rings depends your choice of and budget.
Our Love Knot two tone wedding ring with rose gold and white gold. Left, 14K rose gold and 14K white gold. Right, 18K rose gold and 18K white gold. Both beautiful mixed gold rings, with a slightly different feel.
If you’re going with white gold, there’s every reason to choose 14K. It’s harder, less expensive, and more white.
But… is it white enough?
Let’s dive even deeper and consider the issue of whiteness by comparing white gold, silver and platinum in two tone wedding rings?
Image source: https://platinumguild.com/files/pdf/RealWhite.pdf
10. How White is Your White Metal in Your Two Tone Wedding Ring?
Let’s start first with this issue of “whiteness.” The graph above was developed by Gretag Munsel from a color spectrophotometer to address this question.
As you can see, the whitest metals are the natural white metals. Platinum and palladium are comparable. Silver is slightly whiter than platinum. White gold, however, has a broader range of whiteness, from white to more of a beige color.
But the most relevant question here is, is the white in the white gold white enough? In fifteen-plus years of selling white gold wedding rings online to people who could not actually see them in person we have never had a ring returned for not being white enough.
Nevertheless, to create a white gold wedding ring that looks like a platinum wedding ring, jewelers came up with rhodium plating. Rhodium is a natural white metal in the platinum family of metals.
Plating is controversial, as shown in this article I posted several years ago. We do not recommend this process because rings have to be re-plated every few years. Wedding rings should be enduring and not require maintenance like a car or vacuum cleaner.
11. White Metal Comparison for Two Tone Wedding Rings
These days, white metal rings are the most popular choice and we sell more white gold than yellow gold wedding rings. Many of these are two tone white and yellow gold engagement rings, like these. But the white metal doesn’t have to be gold.
We cover the pros and cons of various white metals extensively in this article. If you're most curious about Platinum vs Palladium Wedding Rings, allow us to point you to this short piece.
Silver is also an excellent choice for a two tone wedding ring. A mixed metal two tone gold and silver wedding ring is going to be less expensive, and is especially appealing to those who like to wear gold and silver jewelry at the same time, or interchangeably.
In terms of whiteness, I don’t feel it is enough of an issue to sway a decision in any serious way. The deciding factor often comes down to budget and personal preference.
TWO TONE ENGAGEMENT RINGS: FABRICATION
12. Who Are The Makers of Your Two Tone Engagement Ring?
Many jewelers won’t even raise this subject of how a ring or piece of jewelry is made, but we do feel that it is important to consider. American manufacturing means American jobs. The maker’s movement is an important cultural phenomenon in America today.
Wedding rings and engagement rings are intimate and personal possessions. For some, the only consideration is price. Understandable...but given that the wedding ring is the one piece of jewelry that couples wear all the time, a little flexibility might be a good idea. Should not the wedding ring reflect the uniqueness of the relationship itself?
Essentially, the choice comes down to rings that are mass-produced versus those that are studio made.
In this case, you may want a piece that is made with love by a skilled artisan who has dedicated his or her lives to a perfect a craft.
The choice is simple: work with a small jewelry studio.
Our Master Goldsmith, Michelle, works on a Trinity Strand two tone white and yellow gold wedding ring. See how we create a wedding ring by hand here.
The jewelers who work in our shop have spent decades perfecting their craft. They love what they do, and that skill and pride goes into the making of the ring.
13. Mass Produced Die Struck or CAD/CAM Two Tone Engagement Rings
For chain jewelry stores and their mass-market websites, where the primary consideration is price, mass production is the rule of thumb. Though a two tone engagement ring has great symbolic meaning to you and your partner, to the seller it is purely a commodity, most likely made in China. The conditions under which it was made and who made it are of little consequence. Sad, but very true.
The primary method of making such rings is usually through CAD/CAM or die striking. With the CAD/CAM process, components of a ring are drawn up on a computer screen, sent to a wax-modeling machine, and then reproduced in a repetitive casting process.
With die striking, one piece of steel “strikes” another piece in order to form, with 50 tons of pressure, wedding bands.
While the material may be different, the soulless, efficient manufacturing processes in making these two tone wedding rings is not that different from how you might create the pots and pans sold at a discount store.
Our Donegal Eye Two Tone Engagement Ring features 14K Yellow Gold over Silver. Pictured left with a diamond, and right with a sapphire. Learn about our ethical diamond sources and gemstone sourcing, and explore our Donegal Collection.
14. Handmade Two Tone Engagement Rings
Between gold, pure flame, and dedicated artistry, there is a special alchemy. You can choose to have a handmade two tone wedding ring made by someone who has dedicated a lifetime to achieve a high level of mastery. The patience and craft it takes to have a beautiful and enduring partnership can truly be reflected in the actual creation of the ring itself, which is a kind of offering of sorts from the artisan jeweler to the couple.
Although entirely handmade, these two tone rings need not be overly expensive, especially working with gold and silver. This two tone Flores Design, a lovely mixed metal gold over silver two tone wedding ring, sells for just $425.
A favorite among many is the Narrow Borderless Flores Wedding Ring. This two tone wedding band contains just a single vine representing one love, one life path, and one shared destiny.
In fact, a two tone gold over silver wedding ring tends to be quite cost effective! This Borderless Petra design is just $395:
Eplore the wide variety of our gold over silver wedding bands here.
Our two tone engagement rings are made entirely by hand, fabricated with sheet metal, wire and design elements. The technique is hundreds of years old, a modern day extension of a traditional jewelry techniques that were originally brought over from the Spanish Conquistadors who settled in the American Southwest over five hundred years ago.
But, the final consideration is—where did that gold and silver come from?
The Ethics of A Two Tone Engagement Ring
15. Where Does The Metal Come From?
Precious metal can be sourced on the open market, it can be from recycled sources, or it can be from fair trade sources.
Many people concerned about the impact of mining prefer to purchase from jewelers who use “eco-friendly” recycled metals. Certainly, using 100% recycled gold to make two tone wedding bands is better than utilizing gold from massive industrial mining operations.
Using recycled precious metal does not prevent the ruining of our ecosystems from mining, child labor, or the heavy use of mercury. In fact, it avoids these critical issues completely by making the supply house the source of where the metal comes from.
Here’s the deal: Large-scale mining is about the politics of greed, while small-scale mining is about the politics of bread.
About 15 million small-scale miners produce about 15% of the world’s gold supply, yet they make up 90% of gold mining labor. Their lives are characterized by extreme poverty and exploitation. We can help them by purchasing a wedding ring made of Fairtrade Gold.
Fairtrade Gold is the best opportunity that these miners have to work their way out of distress and into a better life. It’s backed by Fairtrade Gold certification, an independently audited set of benchmarks created by Fairtrade International.
If you still are not sure about Fairtrade Gold versus recycled gold, read this article I wrote: 15 Reasons Why You Should Buy Fairtrade Gold Jewelry Over Recycled Jewelry.
In choosing to make your two tone engagement ring or two tone wedding ring out of Fairtrade Gold, you have assurance that the environment was not polluted with mercury and that the miners themselves were paid an authentic price for the value of their gold.
If you really wish to have a two tone wedding ring that even in its making reflects the more beautiful world you wish to see, then the best choice is simply Fairtrade Gold.
Our two tone engagement rings are as distinctive as they are stunning! Left, our Two Tone Open Rope design; right, our two tone Windsor Bridal Set.
Each is made using Fairtrade Gold, and available with an ethically sourced diamond or ethically sourced colored gemstone, such as the sapphire pictured.
Bonus: Two Tone Jewelry!
At Reflective Jewelry, we love mixed metal two tone designs—not just two tone wedding rings and engagement rings, but all sorts of two tone jewelry.
This included two tone bracelets, two tone earrings, two tone pendants and necklaces, and more.
Top left, our Kamala earrings. Top right, our Keltie bracelet. Bottom left, our Taliesin pendant. Bottom right, our Celtic Hare pendant.
We have over 300 items of two tone jewelry on our site. View them all here.
PS: Let us know what you think of our two tone wedding rings, engagement rings, and two tone jewelry below. And please let us know if we can answer any questions!
Marc Choyt is president of Reflective Jewelry, a designer jewelry company founded in 1995. He pioneered the ethical sourcing movement in North America and is also the only certified Fairtrade Gold jeweler in the United States. Choyt’s company was named Santa Fe New Mexico’s Green Business of the Year in 2019, and he has been honored with several awards for his efforts to support ethical jewelry. His ebook, Ethical Jewelry Exposé: Lies, Damn Lies and Conflict Free Diamonds, is available online. Choyt can be reached on Twitter at @Circlemanifesto or by email at marc(at)reflectivejewelry.com.