A variety of eyeglass frames exist and vary in price, style, weight, strength, flexibility, uniqueness, and durability. There are many types of materials from which frames are made. The material includes different types of metal, plastic, and other unusual materials. Some people prefer combining these materials for better outcomes. For instance, plastic is used on the frame part surrounding the lens while titanium is used to make the temple pieces.
Frames made from metal are often durable. Metals like titanium, monel (an alloy), beryllium, stainless steel, flexon, and aluminium can be used.
- Titanium and beta-titanium - Frames made with titanium are corrosion-resistant, lightweight, and sturdy. They are also suitable for people prone to metal allergies because they are hypoallergenic. Titanium frames are made in different attractive colors. These frames are ideal for older children. This silver-grey alloy metal is a popular frame material that has also been used in heart valves and spacecraft.
- Monel - Monel combines several metals, which can make some wearers susceptible to allergic reactions. However, they have a coating that protects the skin, and these frames are corrosion-resistant and flexible. Monel frames comprise the majority due to their malleability.
- Beryllium - Frames made from this metal are strong, flexible, and very light in weight. The frames come in various colors and are suitable for those who spend considerable time in or around saltwater.
- Stainless steel - Although this readily available metal is light, it is not as light as titanium. However, it costs less than other metal frames and is resistant to corrosion, heat, and abrasion. Stainless steel is an alternative to titanium and carries other advantages such as low toxicity, strength, and nickel-free (hence hypoallergenic) properties.
- Flexon - Frames made from flexon are extremely light in weight. This titanium-based alloy material bounces back into shape even when bent or twisted. It also resists corrosion and is hypoallergenic. Flexon frames are suitable for active children.
- Aluminium - This material produces high-end designer eyewear due to the uniqueness it creates. Aluminium frames are flexible, strong, and highly corrosion-resistant. Aluminium is the most abundant and non-ferrous material in the world.
Most people prefer plastic frames because they are pocket friendly. Other advantages of plastic include the fact that they are lightweight, stylish, and come in several colors. Soft, plastic frames are recommended for small children and infants because they can bend and are unlikely to hurt them when they fall. However, plastic frames tend to break easily, and over time, the frames' strength decreases while the color fades slightly.
Types of plastic frames include:
- Zyl - Frames made from zyl are very affordable, extremely lightweight, easily adjustable, and have numerous colors. The frames can be laminated.
- Cellulose acetate propionate - These frames are hypoallergenic, extremely lightweight, nylon-based, and slightly softer, more transparent, and glossier than other plastic frames. This material is considered as having the best quality of all frame materials.
- Blended nylon - This material is preferred by sports and safety enthusiasts because it is strong, lightweight, and easily molded. Materials used include trogamid, grilamid, or gliamide, which are highly resistant to cold and heat, hence ideal for sports and performance frames. They are found in wraparound styles and other difficult-to-produce shapes.
- Optyl - Frames made from optyl are very malleable upon heating so that an optician can easily mold the frame to the shape of the face.
- Castor oil - Castor oil frames are increasingly making their way into society because of the ease of growing castor oil. However, they are easily breakable, quickly fade in color, can burn, age faster, and decrease in strength when exposed to sunlight.
Rimless frames are lightweight and work with certain types of lens material such as polycarbonate or Trivex.
Sometimes one may want style and uniqueness in frames for a distinctive high-end style which is more costly. Sterling or solid silver can enhance a frame’s uniqueness when placed on plastic frames and in metal alloy frames. Solid silver is not as popular as a primary frame material since it's uncomfortable and generally not wearable.
Instead of solid gold, gold plating is used to accent metal or plastic frames. Other materials that can enhance uniqueness in high-end eyewear include bone, buffalo horn, and wood. Frames using these materials are often handmade and represent a one-of-a-kind piece. Bone and wood are more stiff, expensive, and less adjustable but are uniquely beautiful and more appealing. Frames from buffalo horn are elegant and feel warm on the body. Leather can be used to accent the temples but is hardly practical or durable. However, the frames look unique, interesting, and fashionable. Velvet has made a recent entry into the market and is used to wrap a special type of sunglasses.
Crystals and some types of precious stones can be used as accents in temples. They represent luxury and include diamond, onyx, Swarovski, and turquoise. Rhinestones are good with cat-eye frames and less expensive than the other pricey, luxurious frame materials.