Buying Rings online in Australia

When it comes to purchasing jewellery in Australia, only 10 short years ago, you almost certainly would have walked into a shopping centre, or a mall in the main city to look through jewellery stores.

I know when I was married about 12 years ago, I didn’t look at one online store! In fact I think I was still using dial up internet!!

But how times have changed. When we at Alpha Rings look at the type of questions that we received when we first started trading many years ago, its amazing how much those questions have changed over the years.

When we first went into business, it took some time to get some traction, not only being found online, but moreso gaining credibility in the market. One of the best things to happen was the proliferation of review websites and Social Media. Social Media has a way of flushing out extremely dodgy operators. If you are stitching people up online, you won’t start around long these days.

People are always interested to talk about their recent purchases, they get excited about them and want to share the experience with their friends. And this is great for the retailer if they’ve done a good job. Alpha Rings could probably do a better job to harness these great reviews. However one thing we are confident of is that we give such exceptional service with every client we come in contact with, that we simply do not get negative reviews. If there is ever an issue with a purchase, we always resolve the issue.

And this is where so many other online retailers are different, particularly many of those overseas. We’ve heard some horror stories from our clients, who actually sometimes come to us to purchase a ring because of how bad their experience had been at some other online retailer. The main two issues that we see come up are that they have experienced poor product quality elsewhere, or that they’ve been charged for a ring re-sizing.

Alpha Rings never charges for a ring resizing. We generally direct our potential clients to this page on ring sizes which assists them to get the right size, or at least how to go about getting the right size. If someone has the opportunity though, we do suggest people can go in store and get sized up by a jeweller in a shop. This is where a physical shopfront does have some superiority to an online store – they can give you the correct ring size there and then. However if you have an approximate size of your finger, what we often do, if its a lower priced ring, is that we might send you two or three sizes for you to try on. You can try them over a few days and send the ones back that don’t fit. If the product you would like is an Edward Mirell ring, then we usually ask you to make the purchase, and we will send you some rings to try on to get the exact size. We Absolutely want to ensure the ring is the correct size when we get it made by Edward Mirell. Failure to do so will need another ring to be sent made and sent over. This is where we thing we offer a superior service to most online stores.

We never charge a re-stocking fee for a ring that isn’t the right size. Many other stores do. This is a joke of charge. The retailer isn’t remotely customer focussed if they charge a restocking fee and we will never do it. We do ask that the customer put a little thought into making sure that the ring size they choose is correct, but even so, we still won’t charge you a fee. Thats crazy!

No longer do we ever really get questions from our customers about the security of online purchases, and that was without doubt the number one question that we would receive in the early days. I don’t think anyone has asked a question like that in years now, because online shopping is just so common. Alpha Rings uses Paypal as its merchant and we do not store credit card details online which makes it very safe indeed.

Really, the main questions we receive now are about size, and we have those responses down to a fine art, so whether you’re looking to buy a mens ring in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, our friends in Perth or right here in Alpha Rings’ home, Adelaide, don’t stress about getting the right ring size – we will make sure we help you do that every step of the way!!

Happy hunting,

AR.

Do Cobalt rings scratch?

cobalt rings

If you’ve been following Alpha Rings for long enough then you’ll know that we’re a massive fan of cobalt rings. Cobalt rings offer plenty of reasons to make them an addition to your wardrobe. They combine an incredible lustre with unparalleled value in our opinion. When you consider that the Cobalt product was designed to closely resemble Platinum, you can see just from the cost difference alone the value that it offers.

cobalt rings

rings made from Cobalt offer a lustre very similar to Platinum, at a fraction of the price

However price to people is (correctly) not the deciding factor when choosing their ring. The more important question is “how long will it last”. And thats really a question that every bride or groom should be asking before they make their purchase.

If you have a look at our ring material comparison chart you can see that we have Cobalt right near the top of the tree. Cobalt’s ability to withstand the rigours of daily wear are quite exceptional. Probably the only products of note that hold their original form better would be Black Titanium and Tungsten. And neither of these have the same “silverish” lustre that Cobalt offers.

cobalt ring scratch

Cobalt Rings are very hard to scratch

The above image is one of the rings I wear most days of the week. This ring has been worn for almost 3 years. Although only taken with a phone camera, you can clearly see an absence of obvious scratches. There are a few very fine scratches, but the form of the Cobalt ring is very similar to how it was when I first started wearing it. This is one of the reasons I wear Cobalt.

So when deciding if Cobalt is the right product for you, consider the incredible scratch resistance that it offers, as well as its amazing appearance, smooth feel and low price point. With all these factors considered, Cobalt is truly one of the prime materials to make a wedding ring out of.

$9.90 cobalt rings, don’t bother!

The other day whilst checking out what our competitors were doing, I came across a website that had the cheapest rings I’d ever seen. So as most organisations do, we purchased one to do some market research. What I discovered was both sad and disappointing really. Alpha Rings prides itself on providing customers with exceptional quality products at fair prices.

Unfortunately not everyone shares that same philosophy. The ring we purchased was absolute crap. I could tell that there was an unusual hue to the ring, only very subtle, but noticeable to someone that had been in the industry for a significant period of time. When I wore the ring, it left a grey mark on my finger when I was sweating. We also subjected the ring to an impact test. It performed horrendously.

You simply can’t make and sell a cobalt ring for under $1o if it is a quality product – its simply not possible. When making rings, there are a number of trace elements that need to be part of the process so that the colour and hardness is exactly as it needs to be. Some manufacturers will cut corners however.

Some types of rings (tungsten is the perfect example) use binding agents in the process. Very cheap rings use cobalt which should not be used for this purpose (cobalt is fine as a co-chr-mo ring). Some retailers advertise “cobalt free” tungsten rings, but that doesn’t tell the full store. The binding agent they use can leach out into your skin with is quite unhealthy. Our rings have passed Nickel release tests which means an unacceptable level of Nickel does NOT leach out.

Online marketplaces such as ebay and amazon are absolutely flooded with what can only be described as waste product masquerading as quality jewellery. Please do some research on your product before you make a purchase where the price seems too low to be true. If it costs about as much as a beer, then I wouldn’t want it on my finger, heaven knows what you might be purchasing.

Comparing types of materials for mens wedding rings

One of the most frequently asked questions we ever receive revolves around the question “what is the best material to make mens wedding rings out of?”

This is a really tough question, and only the individual can really answer this, but here is a bit of a breakdown to help you make the decision. These are only general concepts, and there is some movement on these concepts. What is also important is the quality of the product you are comparing. Poor quality anything is not going to be great to make a wedding ring out of!!!

To make it easier, we’ve made a great infographic which makes things a bit more easy on the eye!

alpharings-infographic-2 copy

CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

Tungsten Rings – Tungsten Rings are arguably the most hardy from a scratcc resistance point of view, but they can still crack if hit with something or dropped from a tall height. Also, some people find the greyness of Tungsten to be less spectacular than other metals. Overall it is a very good choice for tradesmen or those that do manual labour and have their ring on. Tungsten Rings can be bought quite cheaply but it is very important to find a supplier of high quality Tungsten as there are big variations in the quality of Tungsten products. This is for a few reasons, including the binding agents used. Even non cobalt binders such as Nickel can be problematic if they fail a Nickel release test, which is a hallmark of poor quality rings. Its not possible to produce a quality product and sell it for $10 or $20 as seen on many of the popular “e-marketplace sites”.

Black Titanium Rings – Black Titanium Rings are exclusive to Edward Mirell who have the patent on the product. Click here to learn more about Black Titanium Rings.  Black Titanium has an incredibly hard outer shell but it maintains much of the grey titanium ductility which means that it is very scratch resistant, but not particularly prone to cracking. It is very hardy, is an amazing colour, and can be made into all manner of incredible shapes. Black Ti made by Edward Mirell is used by some of the worlds biggest companies in their manufacturing processes. An excellent choice for a wedding ring. Remember only Edward Mirell have the patent for true Black Titanium. Most other “black titanium” is just powder coated or electroplated which is a vastly inferior product.

Cobalt Rings – Cobalt is one of Alpha Rings favourites to make a wedding ring out of. Its more scratch resistant than Gold, Silver, Titanium but a bit less scratch resistant than Tungsten. It has the most brilliant colour which resembles Platinum, but at a fraction of the price. Cobalt is suitable for males of all walks of life, be it tradesmen or office workers. Cobalt wedding rings always look impressive and stay looking good for a long long time. If you are after a “silverish” colour, then Cobalt would be our choice. Cobalt is lighter than Tungsten aswell.

Ceramic Rings – Ceramic rings have had a big decline in popularity in recent years. Unless you are after a different kind of colour like blue or red or something, there are just better options elsewhere. Black was traditionally the most used colour, but Black Titanium has since far exceeded Ceramic in almost every regard (except that Black Titanium is more expensive). Ceramic rings are light and scratch resistant but they are very limited in the type of styles that can be made. We really don’t produce them much anymore.

Titanium Rings – Grey Titanium rings are some of the most versatile rings on the market. They are almost right in the middle when it comes to scratch resistance. Much more scratch resistant than Gold, Silver and Steel, but less than Cobalt, Tungsten and Black Titanium. One of the great things about Titanium is the incredible amount of design variations that can be produced. Titanium is incredibly light, has good resilience and is moderately priced. Scratches should be expected but this will add to the character of the ring. Titanium is another product that requires high quality production techniques to avoid weakness in the construction which can occur if not using Commercial Pure (CP) Titanium

Steel Rings – Steel rings are excellent as fashion or costume jewellery but make a poor choice for wedding rings. They scratch too easily and are too easily bent out of shape. Alpha Rings doesn’t sell steel because there are many better choices. We’d recommend you steer clear of rings where the outer surfaces are Steel.

Gold Rings – Gold Rings are still incredibly popular because of the traditional element and people still like the colour of Gold. Gold has attributes which make it good as a wedding ring as an alloy – but contemporary metals do a better job. Gold is also very expensive. Thats a good thing if you want to have a ring with a high intrinsic value, as in, the precious metal is actually worth something as resell value.

Silver Rings – Silver, generally speaking, makes a  poor choice for a mans wedding ring. Silver is way too soft and easily bent and disfigured. Silver is fine as an inlay but it will scratch. We would never suggest to use Silver for a wedding ring. A Silver ring just won’t stand up to the rigours of wearing it every day.

 

We’ve taken some images below to help you with a visual comparison between Cobalt, Tungsten and Titanium rings. It is quite hard to explain the visual differences with words, and photographs are often quite difficult to produce the right colour rendering. The below images do a reasonable job of showing the subtle differences between the three metals. Tungsten is clearly has a more “grey” hue to it. Cobalt has more of a “whiteness” about it, and Titanium has a yellowish type of grey to it. Have a look for yourself.

comparing ring materials

Here is a clear comparison in the same lighting. Cobalt brushed and polished is on the left, Titanium polished in the middle, and tungsten brushed and polished on the right

 

 

Tungsten ring on the left, Titanium ring on the right

Tungsten ring on the left, Titanium ring on the right

 

On the left is a Cobalt ring with a brushed face, on the right is a Tungsten ring with a brushed face

On the left is a Cobalt ring with a brushed face, on the right is a Tungsten ring with a brushed face

We’ve written another great article here to help you make with your purchase, the post is called “How to choose a mens wedding ring

Cobalt Rings vs Tungsten Rings

ceramic and cobalt ring

Our clients have a great deal of choices and considerations to make when they decide what is the best ring for them. Factors that people consider are, first and foremost, price and quality. Most Australians want a really good quality product at a solid price.

With the advent of contemporary metals, the landscape has changes regarding a clients needs.  In years past, it was accepted that your ring would scratch and look, well, quite ordinary after only a few months. Thats certainly not the case now. Modern alloys are engineered to provide extreme scratch resistance.

So when people ask the the most durable rings, the answer is always the Black Titanium rings, Cobalt rings or Tungsten Rings. Much has been written about Titanium rings, so we will focus on Tungsten vs Cobalt rings.

Cobalt rings and Tungsten Rings share as many similarities as they do differences. The Key similarities they share is the outstanding durability in day to day wear. Cobalt, much like Black Titanium, is a modern engineering masterpiece. Not only have engineers made Cobalt rings been designed to strongly resemble the “white” finish of platinum, but they have also managed to keep a unique hardness in the product, but still enough ductility and malleability to avoid being too brittle.

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Tungsten Rings are extremely hard – harder and more scratch resistant than any other product on the market

 

Tungsten is more scratch resistant than Cobalt, and is very very difficult to scratch. The trade off with this is that the Tungsten product is more brittle. Cobalt offers a closer balance of scratch resistance with how easy it is to crack. Needless to say, you would have to make a real effort to crack a Tungsten ring, its very unlikely to happen in day to day use. Sometimes you might see retailers claim Tungsten as “unbreakable”. This is a fallacy – its not possible for this to be the case.

As Cobalt is less brittle than Tungsten, it makes it more versatile. Sections can be cut from the ring with less danger of cracking. If you think of an extreme scenario, something very brittle, like glass, its quite difficult to carve intricate designs without cracking – compare this to something less brittle like plastic. This is how Tungsten is to work with. Cobalt doesnt really face this problem, and therefore, there are more range of designs possible with Cobalt rings.

ceramic and cobalt ring

Cobalt rings are less brittle than tungsten, making machining of edges much easier without the risk of cracking

The colour of Tungsten and Cobalt rings is probably the most significant points of difference. Tungsten rings have a somewhat grey hue to them, whereas Cobalt rings, as mentioned above, have a much “whiter” finish, which some people find more appealing.

Cobalt mens wedding ring

Cobalt Rings offer a colour similar to Platinum, but harder, and much much cheaper

Cost is the final factor, Cobalt rings can sometimes cost twice as much as Tungsten rings.

The Bevelled Tungsten Ring

Sometimes partners want some input into what ring they should buy their partner as a surprise. They want some guidance as to what the most popular rings are. Enter the Bevelled Tungsten ring with no inlays.

This ring comes in with a few subtle variations. Firstly we make it in either a 6mm width or an 8mm width, and secondly it comes with a polished or brushed face. Overwhelmingly, the brushed face is the most popular, as it adds some nice contrast to the ring with the polished bevelled edging.

Tungsten-Bevelled-Ring2-90x90

8mm Tungsten bevelled ring

The 8mm and 6mm versions are nearly equally popular, it really just depends on what the client is looking for. The 8mm version is quite heavy, weighing in at around 16gm. A similar Titanium Ring would weigh somewhere around 5gm.

This ring is a really good option for people who work outdoors and like to keep their ring on whilst at work. The reason for this is that there is no inlay to scratch, and its very difficult to scratch a plain Tungsten Band.

If you are intereted in these bands, the 8mm tungsten band can be found here, and here is the 6mm tungsten band!

 

What are Cobalt Rings?

mens engagement rings

One of the challenges of an online store selling men’s wedding bands is conveying the quality of our product to the customer. We believe that we provide amongst the best quality products in the business, and its difficult to get that message across prior to purchase.
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Never is this more apparent with Cobalt Rings. It is very difficult for photography to show the true beauty and quality of these particular mens rings. Cobalt rings have been designed to offer key attributes which make it ideal for making wedding rings and fashion rings. One of the most appealing features of these type of rings, is the strong “whiteness” of the rings which is very similar in look to Platinum. The massive benefit Cobalt Rings have over Platinum Rings is their superior scratch resistance and much much lower price.
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Cobalt Rings can still be scratched, but the visible signs of scratching are much more minor than , say Gold, Silver or Platinum Rings.
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So what exactly are Cobalt Rings then? Cobalt Rings are actually an alloy comprising 3 main elements. Although the makeup of Cobalt Rings differs from one manufacturer to another (with drastic differences in quality outcomes), Edward Mirell Cobalt Rings are considered industry leaders, and joint developers of the Cobalt product. The three Elements in these rings are Cobalt (65%), Chromium (29%) and Molybdenum (6%). In combination, and with advanced manufacturing techniques, Cobalt Rings are born.

 

Cobalt 8MM Double Grooves Wedding Band

Cobalt Chrome wedding bands give the resemblance of Platinum

Cobalt Rings also offer designers the ability to make unique and compelling jewelry designs. Cobalt Ring are quite similar to Titanium Rings in that their properties make them absolutely perfect for wedding ring design and production. Key points of Cobalt Rings are:

-Resemblance to Platinum

-Superb strength/malleability/ductility and hardness
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-Superior durability and scratch resistance

-Corrosion resistance

-High polish and mirror like finish.
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Cobalt mens wedding band

Cobalt Rings allow unique engineering opportunities

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You might see us advertise our Tungsten Rings as saying “no cobalt” and wonder why, if Cobalt is bad in Tungsten rings, why it is hypoallergenic by itself? Well thats a great question. The answer basically lies in how Cobalt acts as an alloy. In short, its not great when its used as a binding agent in the production of Tungsten Rings. When combined with the required elements to make Cr-Mo-Co rings, this issue disappears.
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Alpha Rings gives a very strong endorsement to Cobalt Rings for the purpose of a mens wedding ring. They are an amazing colour and really are a pleasure to wear on your finger.

If you are unsure if a Cobalt ring would be right for you, feel free to contact us so we can discuss this further.