WHAT WILL HAPPEN
These metals will get marked relatively easily (yes even titanium!), especially when beginning with a brushed finish.
A brushed finish is a very finely and uniformly scratched surface on the ring.
This uniformity is very easily upset, and it becomes obvious when even a small mark is made on the ring.
Let's say you grab a metal door handle, the metal of the handle may smooth out an area of the brushed finish where the ring makes contact, causing that area to appear shinier than the surrounding metal.
It's not a deep scratch, it will have no discernible depth. It's just a change in the finish. A mark would be a more apt term.
Without maintenance, and given enough time, a brushed finish will eventually polish itself evenly over the entire ring.
Brushed finishes can be easily restored with a green Scotch Brite scouring pad, the very same you would use in your kitchen.
Just lightly rub any scratches or marks to blend them in again to the surrounding metal.
It has to be the green variety, as the non-scratch blue and white pads will do nothing.
This can be done infinitely, whenever you feel the need to restore the finish, you will not wear away the metal.
WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN
Black zirconium is a metal ring, but with a very hard ceramic surface protecting it.
This ceramic surface is as hard as sapphire, so only materials that are harder than sapphire will scratch it under controlled conditions.
This means some of the components in rocks, bricks, concrete etc, so avoid them when possible.
In reality, we have to account for brute force too. If you knock it on something hard enough, you are likely to deform the metal underneath the ceramic surface and damage the ceramic in the process.
e.g. While a gym barbell is technically a softer metal than the surface of the zirconium ring, and technically shouldn't be able to scratch it, the roughness of the grip and the force that is applied when grabbing a barbell would be enough to damage the surface in other ways.
e.g. If you're a mechanic and whack it on an engine block, the chances of escaping damage are slim.
Care must be taken to extend the lifespan of a black zirconium ring.
Unfortunately if the ceramic surface is damaged, it is generally irreversible. Try to think of it as character.
If this is something that will bother you, we suggest going for another metal like titanium. It won't be black, but it will be repairable.
Another interesting drawback with this material is that softer metals tend to stick to it.
For example if aluminium is rubbed against a black zirconium ring, the aluminium will actually wear off and transfer to the zirconium.
Think of it like a pencil on paper.
So a black zirconium ring can end up with many little silver marks that could easily be mistaken for scratches, but are in fact just other metals stuck to the surface.
A good way to test if you have a mark like this on your ring is to rub a fingernail across it, if you can feel the scratch with your fingernail, you've probably irreversibly scratch the surface (problem 1). If you can't feel anything there, it's likely just a metal transfer.
Most metallic marks that gather on a black zirconium ring will mostly rub off with just your finger.
If that doesn't work, try a pencil eraser.
If that still doesn't work, gently use a green Scotch Brite scouring pad on the mark, and then rub it off with your finger.