Tantalum is a strong, durable metal that’s increasingly used in wedding bands, particularly men’s wedding bands, for its masculine look and long lifespan.
Metals like tantalum aren’t as well-known as, say, gold and silver, but they should be!
Men wearing wedding rings or bands has steadily become the norm since it became mainstream in the mid-1900s. This trend has increased alongside technological advances and the introduction of new metal options beyond the standard gold or silver.
One of those new options is, of course, the tantalum wedding band.
But is tantalum a good ring material? We’d say so! But it’s best to be fully informed before deciding on a lifelong piece of jewelry.
That’s why we’ve prepared this guide to break down everything to know about tantalum rings, how they compare to other metals like tungsten or titanium, and what buying factors to consider before choosing a tantalum ring.
Before we get into the rings, let’s go over what tantalum is exactly.
Tantalum is a rare element and metal formerly known as “tantalium.”
The Swedish chemist Anders Gustav Ekeberg first discovered tantalum in 1802, naming it after the Greek mythological villain Tantalus because dissolving it in acids was a “tantalizing” issue. (If you don’t know, the story of Tantalus being punished by always being just out of reach of food and water is how the word “tantalize” came to be.)
Chemically, tantalum is incredibly similar to niobium, and they’re often found together. In fact, the two weren’t officially identified as different elements until German chemist Heinrich Rose was finally able to separate them in 1846. Pure tantalum wouldn’t be produced until 1903.
Besides being used in jewelry, tantalum has all sorts of industrial applications. One notable example is when NASA used tantalum on the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 ships to protect the spacecraft from radiation.
Tantalum is one of the refractory metals, meaning it has a high melting point, density, and resistance to heat.
Here’s a quick breakdown of tantalum’s properties:
Color: Dark blue-gray or silver-gray
Melting Point: 3290 K (3017 °C, 5463 °F)
Density: 16.69; 15 when liquid
Mohs Hardness: 6.5
Refractive Index: 1.72
Highly resistant to corrosion
Resistant to all acids (at room temperature) except hydrofluoric acid
With those properties in mind, let’s look at how tantalum compares to similar metals used in rings.
When you’re browsing for durable, nontraditional ring metals, you’ll see a few different options. Tantalum rings are often competing with titanium or tungsten rings, so it’s important to know how they compare.
Let’s start with one you’ve probably heard of: titanium.
Pictured above: Titanium rings
Titanium is a fairly abundant and versatile metal used in jewelry because it’s lightweight, stylish, and durable.
But what is stronger: titanium or tantalum? Both are quite resistant to scratches — tantalum is only slightly more scratch-resistant — and won’t dent easily, so their strength is comparable.
Color-wise, the two look similar, but titanium is usually a lighter silver while tantalum is a darker gray.
The main difference between titanium and tantalum is weight. Tantalum is denser than titanium, so tantalum rings will be heavier. Of course, ring heaviness may be a matter of preference.
Additionally, and possibly more importantly, titanium rings are more affordable than tantalum, usually 60 to 75 percent of the price of tantalum rings (all other factors being equal).
Pictured above: Tungsten ring
Tungsten is a rare, dense metal almost always found in compounds (combined with other elements). Tantalum and tungsten are both dense, but tantalum is denser.
Is tantalum stronger than tungsten? In terms of scratch-resistance (hardness), no; tungsten is one of the hardest metals available. In fact, tungsten is four-times harder than titanium.
However, tantalum is shatterproof, while tungsten is only shatter-resistant, so a tungsten ring may crack or break if you smash it against a hard surface. Tungsten is also brittle, so tungsten rings can’t be resized.
Color-wise, tungsten is more silver while tantalum is more gray with a blue undertone. Both are available in black, however.
What about the cost? Tungsten is considerably more affordable, often 30 to 50 percent of the price of a tantalum ring (all other factors being equal).
Pictured above: Platinum ring with cat's eye chrysoberyl gemstone
Platinum is another dense, corrosion-resistant metal like tungsten and tantalum. The rarity and density of platinum is very similar to that of tantalum. However, platinum is the only precious metal listed here (beside gold, silver, and palladium).
Looking at hardness, tantalum is considerably more scratch-resistant than platinum. Both metals are similarly ductile, making either resizable as rings.
Color-wise, platinum is a lighter, silver- to grayish-white color while tantalum is a darker gray-blue to gray color.
Lastly, the price of platinum rings is higher than the price of tantalum rings. In fact, platinum rings are typically 2 to 4-times the price of gold rings.
Now that we’ve compared similar metals to tantalum, we’ll compare the main pros and cons of tantalum rings.
Like any metal jewelry, tantalum rings have advantages and disadvantages to consider before making a lifelong choice for a wedding ring.
Here are the major benefits of tantalum wedding rings:
Durable: Tantalum rings are shatterproof, corrosion-resistant, tarnish-resistant, and highly scratch-resistant. This means you can wear a tantalum wedding ring even in rugged, hands-on jobs without worrying about harming it.
Hypoallergenic: Tantalum rings use the purest form of tantalum, which doesn’t contain nickel, making it great for those with nickel allergies or sensitive skin.
Attractive: Though you can choose a polished or matte finish, tantalum has a naturally high luster, giving it a beautiful shine.
Easily Maintained: You can easily clean and polish tantalum rings at home without paying for professional cleaning.
Resizable: Tantalum is very ductile — meaning it can be stretched without breaking — so you can have tantalum rings resized as needed. Tungsten or titanium rings are near-impossible to resize.
In a similar vein to resizing, can tantalum rings be cut off? Yes, the metal’s ductility means tantalum rings can easily be cut off if necessary.
Before we go over the cons, let’s first answer: are tantalum rings dangerous?
As jewelry, tantalum is not dangerous. Tantalum is only dangerous if you’re exposed to (in other words, inhale) a certain amount of tantalum powder, which isn’t a concern when it comes to jewelry items like tantalum rings.
With that settled, let’s go over some downsides to consider if you’re thinking about getting a tantalum wedding ring:
Rarity: Tantalum is the rarest stable metal on Earth, so this can affect availability and eventually mean higher prices if sources are depleted.
Price: Related to its rarity, tantalum’s price can be somewhat steep. It usually falls between precious metals like platinum and industrial metals like titanium.
On that note, we’ll dive deeper into what prices to expect for tantalum rings next.
Although tantalum is rare, tantalum rings are less expensive than you’d think.
Tantalum rings are much more affordable than gold or platinum rings. But they are more expensive than titanium, tungsten, ceramic, or cobalt rings.
Most tantalum wedding bands cost around $300 to $500.
Additions that can raise the price of a tantalum ring or wedding band include:
Other metals (like a gold inlay)
Carvings or embossing
Gemstones (especially diamonds)
Wedding bands reflect your everlasting commitment, so let’s see if tantalum rings last a lifetime as well.
First, is tantalum easy to break? Nope, tantalum is shatterproof. That means slamming it against a hard surface won’t crack or break it.
Do tantalum rings fade? Natural tantalum rings won’t fade. The only exception is if you have black tantalum ring with an outer plating, which can break down over time.
Quick note before the next section: “corrosion” refers to metals deteriorating from water or moisture, while “oxidation” refers to metals reacting to air (oxygen). Sometimes oxidation is considered a type of corrosion and vice versa.
Can tantalum corrode? In extreme (and we mean extreme) conditions, yes, but tantalum is one of the most corrosion-resistant metals available. The only acids tantalum is not resistant to are hydrofluoric acid, acid solutions containing fluoride ions, and free sulfur trioxide.
Translated to longevity, tantalum rings will typically last a lifetime.
Though tantalum may get scratched by harder materials, re-polishing will erase those scratches and make it good as new.
Re-polishing is just one aspect of proper tantalum maintenance.
Luckily, tantalum’s durability makes tantalum rings easy to take care of.
Can I shower with a tantalum ring? In most cases, yes, showering won’t damage your ring. Exceptions are tantalum rings with inlays of other metals like gold that’s under 24K or gemstones that react with water like malachite.
If your tantalum ring gets scratched, you can take it to a jeweler for re-polishing or you can polish it at home with a cream metal polish, nylon pad, or soft cloth followed by rinsing.
Here’s how to clean tantalum rings:
In a plastic bowl of water, mix 1 cup of water and ⅓ cup of mild soap (like dish soap).
Place your tantalum ring in the solution and leave it submerged for 2-3 minutes.
Gently scrub any dirt or debris from the ring with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Rinse away any soap residue.
Dry the ring with a soft cloth or let it air-dry.
To store your tantalum ring, keep it in a fabric pouch or fabric-lined box. Store it separately from other jewelry to avoid scratches.
Whether you’re choosing a ring to reflect your lifelong commitment to a spouse or just searching for a durable accessory, tantalum rings are a great way to go. These impressive rings offer lifelong strength and gorgeous luster at a great price!
Ready to shop? Browse our collection of rings and wedding bands!
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