A small sampling of our two tone wedding bands and two tone engagement rings!
If you’ve been exploring two tone engagement rings or two tone wedding bands and don’t know a lot about jewelry, I think you’ll agree it can be difficult to find trusted info — or even to know what questions to ask!
This article offers critical info needed to make an educated purchase of your two tone wedding band, which may be the only piece of jewelry you’ll wear for the rest of your life.
We’ll discuss design considerations, best metal choices, manufacturing processes, and gender issues; illustrated with designs from my own small artisan studio. We’ve been in operation since 1995; are based in Santa Fe, New Mexico; and specialize in handmade custom two tone wedding rings.
Best of all, you’ll gain insider information that many jewelers would not tell you — particularly around the issue that is of most concern for many people today: ethical wedding ring sourcing.
Now, let’s dive right in.
Ethical Sourcing and Two Tone Wedding Rings
1. “Eco-Friendly” Recycled Gold vs Fairtrade Gold
No one wants their wedding ring — symbolizing love, commitment, and hope for the future — to be made with gold that has destroyed ecosystems and communities.
Unfortunately, this is the norm in North America — where “eco-friendly” recycled gold reigns king.
The harsh truth is:
Eco-friendly claims around recycled gold are no more than greenwashing.
Check out this illustration, and you’ll see why:
This illustration shows the real ethical value of recycled gold two tone wedding rings.
Here’s how it works:
A jeweler (on the left) purchases old gold rings from someone who comes into their shop. The gold in those rings is “dirty gold” — which has ravaged landscapes, contributed to destroying essential ecosystems, and contaminated water supplies with cyanide and mercury.
This gold goes to a refiner, who re-brands the gold. One such example is Stuller, the largest jewelry supply house in the US:
Note that the branding centers around “certified.” Here’s their certification, and the label with the pretty hummingbird:
This certification has nothing to do with how the gold was mined. It only relates back to the greenwashing machine — the refiner.
In other words: this certification means that the gold came from the gold rings the jeweler in the illustration bought.
This hides the true impact of gold mining — where hummingbirds and fish die.
Here’s the bottom line:
If you had extra gold laying around, would you throw it in the trash?
Jewelers have been recycling gold forever. I do this myself, particularly when my customers want to make new rings from old gold jewelry that has been passed down through their family.
But branding recycled gold as “eco-friendly” has deceived conscious consumers who want to be part of a solution.
What’s the best ethical choice, then?
2. The Most Precious Gold in the World
If you want ethical gold that truly is part of a solution, there's only one choice: gold that is sourced from small-scale mining communities who mine to survive and have been supported with exceptional standards.
That is: Fairtrade Gold or Fairmined Gold. (The standards of these two programs are very similar, and both bring a lot of benefit to mining communities and their families.)
In the US, there are only a few small studios that can make jewelry using Fairtrade or Fairmined Gold. (In fact, I am the only certified Fairtrade Gold jeweler!) I work with Fairtrade Gold because its certification and auditing is the most rigorous.
Many people might associate the Fairtrade logo with coffee or chocolate:
We are the only certified Fairtrade Gold jeweler in the USA, and our current source is a mine in Peru called Macdesa.
Fairtrade Gold assures that the people of the land benefit from the resources of their land. It also reduces harm to the environment.
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 colored gemstone.
Now, let’s get back to two tone wedding bands:
TWO TONE WEDDING BANDS: STYLE CONSIDERATIONS
3. Styles Of Two Tone Wedding Bands
Width, metal choice, color combination, and motif all play a role. And though your ring is in some sense public — in that it represents a vow to one’s partner witnessed by the broader community — it is also deeply personal.
Two tone wedding bands are available in a huge range of styles. For example, the styles below — which are handmade in my studio — have more of a “designer” feel:
Any custom jewelry house making two tone wedding rings should be able to vary metal choice, using different combinations of colored gold and silver.
Here’s one example from our own studio of how the same motif can be applied in many different ways:
Our Felicity two tone wedding rings, handmade in our Santa Fe studio, are available in a range of styles and color options. They can also be customized at will. Explore our Felicity Collection.
Here’s the bottom line:
There are an infinite number of women’s and men’s two tone wedding band styles. The most important question is, what’s your style?
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 — 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.
The Windsor Ring, left, and King’s Ring, right, represent two variations of classic two tone mixed metal wedding rings.
Also, any two tone wedding ring can be enhanced with diamonds, as shown below:
Our Wistra Wedding Ring is a simple, classic, and stunning two tone ring design. This too can be completely customized.
Here’s one more example of a classic style:
Our Marcello Wedding Ring is shown here in sterling silver base and center with 18K yellow gold borders. This two tone ring can be made in any width and metal combination.
Regardless of what classic two tone wedding band style is chosen, the most important thing is that it reflects your taste — and is an elegant representation of your loving commitment.
5. Designer Two Tone Wedding Rings
If you’re open to two tone wedding rings with more intricate designer elements, then the wedding band’s surface becomes a canvas upon which jewelers can create captivating design motifs.
And: 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 ring 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 two tone wedding band can represent essential talismanic quality in a relationship, and remind us of our cultural connections. The lines in the Narrow Two Tone Celtic Arches Wedding Ring represent two paths weaving together:
The knotwork on this Celtic two tone wedding ring pattern illustrates a dynamic creativity that reaches up toward the heavens, and down to the Earth from 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:
Our Bordered Rope Wedding Ring is pictured here with 14K yellow 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 pattern:
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.
TWO TONE WEDDING RINGS: Men’s vs Women’s
6. What Distinguishes A Women’s Two Tone Wedding Ring From A Men’s Two Tone Wedding Ring?
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 regarding a two tone wedding ring or mixed metal engagement ring is your choice alone.
The most important question is: what feels right to you?
That being said, 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.
7. 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 since 1995, two tone men’s wedding rings are typically between 5mm and 9mm wide.
Most two tone wedding bands for women have a width of between 3mm and 5mm. This smaller size is not just related to hand size — 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.
MIXED METAL TWO TONE WEDDING RING OPTIONS: PRECIOUS METAL
8. The Best Metals For Your Two Tone Wedding Ring
The precious metal choice for a two tone wedding ring can be a difficult decision — doubly so as with more traditional rings, as you’re choosing two metals instead of one!
Here’s the low down:
White metals contrast beautifully with yellow gold. Thus, yellow gold and white gold is the most popular pairing for two tone rings. However, we also regularly pair silver with yellow gold.
Rose gold is not as common in two tone rings, but does work beautifully with either white or yellow gold.
Take a look at these rings:
Left, a two tone white and yellow gold engagement ring: our Bordered Rope design. Right, a two tone rose and white gold wedding ring: the Wind and Waves.
And at these:
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, shown on the right.
As for natural white metals, we’ve made many customers happy by pairing platinum 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 recommend platinum.
Silver is also a fine white metal choice in combo with yellow gold.
What are the various pros and cons of metal choices?
9. Two Tone Wedding Ring Metals 101: 18K vs 14K
To understand the distinct advantages and disadvantages of various white metals for a two tone wedding ring — e.g. hardness, cost, and the actual whiteness of the metal — we have to get back to the basics.
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 uniform in weight — were used as a unit of measurement.
"Carat" has become a unit of weight in the measurement of precious gemstones. "Karat," on the other hand, now refers to the percentage of gold in jewelry.
Be sure not to confuse “karat,” “carat,” and “carrot!”
Twenty-four karat (24K) is pure gold. An 18K wedding ring is 75% gold (18 ÷ 24 = .75), while a 14K gold wedding band would be 58.3% gold. The balance is various alloys, which are used to strengthen the metal and to change its color:
This illustration shows the various colors that can result from alloying 24K Gold with different metals. Photo credit.
Here’s a quick video that shows you the process of alloying:
Though the alloy in this video was for rose gold, the process is exactly the same with any alloy color.
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.
Just take a look at these two rings:
These two tone mixed metal wedding bands further 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.
Choosing between 14K and 18K might depend on whether you want to use white, yellow, or rose gold — and which combination of metals you’ll be using.
So, let’s continue on:
10. Two Tone Wedding Ring Metal Recommendations
If you’re using yellow gold, we do recommend 18K for its illustrious warmth and radiance.
18K yellow gold is more expensive than 14K. 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 with either 14K or 18K. Keep in mind that the 14K has more rose color, and will be both more durable and less expensive. 18K rose gold has a more yellow-tinted rose color, which is also beautiful but more subtle.
Here’s a comparison:
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.
And another ring, featuring yellow gold:
This One-of-a-Kind Weaving Heart Ring is a 14 rose gold over 14K yellow gold two tone engagement ring, featuring a stunning (and ethically sourced!) aquamarine.
Ultimately, metal choice and pairing for your two tone wedding rings or two tone engagement rings depends on what appeals to you and fits your budget.
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 consider the issue of whiteness by comparing white gold, silver and platinum in two tone wedding rings.
11. How White is Your White Metal in Your Two Tone Wedding Ring?
Let’s start first with this issue of “whiteness.” The graph below was developed by Gretag Munsel from a color spectrophotometer to address this question:
Image source: https://platinumguild.com/files/pdf/RealWhite.pdf
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 whiteness of 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.
14K and 18K white gold do differ in their look. Take a look at these rings:
Our Garden Gate Wedding Ring is shown here in 14K white gold (left) and 18K white gold (right.) You can see that the 18K ring has more of a subtle yellowish tint, owing to its higher Gold content. It won’t contrast as strongly with yellow gold.
Because neither 14K nor 18K white gold are as white as platinum, jewelers came up with rhodium plating. Rhodium is a natural white metal in the platinum family.
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.
So, which white metal should you choose for your two tone wedding ring?
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.
A few of our white gold wedding rings.
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.
Take a look for yourself:
Our Solaris two tone wedding band pictured here is crafted with a sterling silver base and center design, and 14K yellow gold sides.
We have been making two tone engagement rings with silver for over fifteen years. They hold up well and look wonderful — and of course, silver is a much less costly material than gold or platinum.
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
13. 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. I, on the other hand, feel it’s very important to consider. American manufacturing means American jobs, and the maker movement is an important cultural phenomenon in America today.
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.
When it comes to your two tone wedding ring, you may want a piece that is made with love by a skilled artisan who has dedicated his or her life to perfecting 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 each ring.
14. Mass-Produced Die Struck 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 die striking. One piece of steel “strikes” another in order to form, with 50 tons of pressure, wedding bands.
It’s an efficient yet soulless manufacturing process similar to the way many cheap pots and pans are created.
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. CAD/CAM Two Tone Wedding Bands
CAD/CAM is another favorite technique of big-box jewelry retailers. Components of a ring are drawn up in a computer program, sent to a wax-modeling machine, and then reproduced in a repetitive casting process.
I don’t find mass-produced rings appealing, regardless of the technique used.
CAD/CAM can be put to good use, when a capable artisan is the one at the helm!
One advantage of computer modeling is that it allows you to see exactly what your ring will look like, before it is fabricated. Take, for example, these computer renderings of a custom diamond ring we made:
These were two early mock-ups of the ring pictured below.
We went back and forth with this customer many times to ensure her ring came out just as she envisioned. Here’s the final result:
This is obviously not a two tone diamond ring, but it’s a great illustration of the usefulness of CAD/CAM.
We actually created this ring using the gold and diamond from this client’s engagement ring, which we combined with the gold from recently departed husband’s wedding band. We often take on projects like this, because our unique skillset as artisan jewelers allows us to reuse old gold, gems, and diamonds to make brand new custom rings and jewelry.
Find out more about this process here.
Speaking of artisan handmade wedding rings: we saved the best for last!
15. 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 marriage 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 when it comes to gold over silver. This 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:
Explore 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 techniques are hundreds of years old, a modern-day extension of traditional jewelry techniques that were originally brought over from the Spanish Conquistadors who settled in the American Southwest over five hundred years ago.
This 85-second video will give you some more info about our artisan techniques:
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: We want to know what you think of our two tone wedding rings, engagement rings, and two tone jewelry! Please feel free to leave a comment below.
If you have any questions, or want to place an order, please call us at 1-888-733-5238, email me at info (at) ReflectiveJewelry.com, or stop by our studio in the Santa Fe, NM Baca Street Arts District.
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.