Tungsten vs Titanium Jewelry: The Pros and Cons of Each

tungsten vs titanium jewelryTungsten and titanium are two alternative metals that have become increasingly popular for jewelry like wedding bands. Both have pros and cons for jewelry use.

An “alternative metal” is any metal that’s not one of the precious metals: gold, silver, palladium, and platinum. The alternative metals you’ll see most often are stainless steel, cobalt, tungsten, and titanium.

Looking at the last two, what is better: tungsten or titanium? That’s what we’ll be answering today as we go over the pros and cons of titanium vs tungsten rings, based on factors like durability, strength, price, and more.

Before we get into comparisons, let’s establish some basic fundamentals about what these metals are and what they’re known for.

tungsten vs titanium jewelry

What Are Tungsten and Titanium?

Tungsten is an element and metal also called “wolfram.” It’s known for being quite dense, along with having the highest melting point and the highest tensile strength — meaning how much it can be stretched or pulled without breaking — of any metal.

Titanium is an element and metal only found naturally as an oxide. It’s known for being lightweight, being corrosion-resistant, and having the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any pure metal — it’s as strong as steel but only slightly heavier than aluminum.

When used in jewelry, tungsten and titanium are never completely pure. Even in nature, tungsten always occurs combined with other elements and titanium almost always is found as titanium oxide.

Like most metals, jewelers typically combine tungsten or titanium with other metals to create an alloy. Titanium is often combined with aluminum and vanadium, while tungsten is often combined with carbon, nickel, cobalt, or combination of these.

On that topic, another important distinction to know is the difference between tungsten and tungsten carbide.

Tungsten vs Tungsten Carbide

“Tungsten” refers to the metal individually. Tungsten carbide, on the other hand, is an alloy of tungsten mixed with mostly carbon and sometimes other metals like titanium, nickel, cobalt, or a combination of these.

Though some sellers use the terms interchangeably, they’re not the same.

The reason jewelers may opt for tungsten carbide is that it’s more malleable than tungsten, making it easier to create jewelry out of it.

Another difference is hardness, meaning scratch-resistance. Tungsten carbide is more scratch-resistant (ranking at 8 to 9 on the Mohs scale) than tungsten (ranking at 7.5).

A major consideration for those with sensitive skin, however, is the added metals. If cobalt is part of the tungsten carbide alloy, it can irritate the skin. Funny enough, tungsten carbide alloys with nickel (the usual suspect for skin irritation) but no cobalt are hypoallergenic.

Most “tungsten” jewelry is actually made of tungsten carbide.

Moving back to titanium, there are also some distinctions to know about titanium.

titanium jewelry grades - titanium covered watch

Titanium Grades Used in Jewelry

There are a few different titanium grades to know. A metal grade is a type of classification, often to indicate a metal’s composition, purity, and durability.

There are two overarching categories for titanium grades: titanium alloy grades and commercially pure (CP) grades. Commercially pure grades are classified as 1 through 4, while titanium alloy grades go from 5 to 23.

Most reputable jewelers use commercially pure grades of titanium for jewelry. These grades are:

  • Grade 1: Softest, most flexible, and easiest to shape; Has the least impurities or added metals; Highest impact toughness (which we’ll elaborate on later) and corrosion-resistance

  • Grade 2: Harder than Grade 1, near equally resistant to corrosion, easy to shape; Widely available, easy to use; Good impact strength & flexibility

  • Grade 3: Least commonly used but still valuable; Stronger than Grade 1 or Grade 2, similarly flexible, less easy to shape

  • Grade 4: Hardest and strongest but least flexible; High corrosion-resistance; Can have the most oxygen and/or iron content of any grade

All that said, a lot of titanium jewelry is actually Grade 5, also called Ti 6Al-4V titanium. This grade is roughly 90 percent titanium, 6 percent aluminum, 4 percent vanadium, 0.25 percent iron, and 0.2 percent oxygen. Grade 5 titanium is quite strong, but pricier and harder to work with.

Another titanium grade often used for body piercings is called “Aircraft Grade” titanium, which mixes in aluminum and vanadium, sometimes with tin as well. This type has a whiter color and three times the strength of any of the Commercially Pure grades listed above.

Now that you know the basics, let’s first go over the pros and cons of tungsten jewelry.

tungsten ring pros and cons

Pros and Cons of Tungsten Jewelry

Is tungsten a good metal for jewelry? Absolutely!

Some of the benefits of tungsten jewelry (like tungsten wedding rings) are:

  • High scratch-resistance (particularly tungsten carbide)

  • More affordable than precious metals

  • Usually hypoallergenic

  • Available in various styles

  • Very corrosion-resistant and tarnish-resistant

  • Maintains shine well over time

Now, what are the disadvantages of tungsten?

  • Can break from a hard impact

  • Cannot be resized

  • Not valuable for resale

  • Feels heavy (can be a matter of preference)

Elaborating on the resizing issue, most jewelers offer a lifetime warranty for tungsten rings, so you should be able to exchange it for a new one if your finger changes size.

Shifting to the other metal in question, we’ll look at what to consider when buying titanium jewelry.

titanium pendant copper plated

Pros and Cons of Titanium Jewelry

Like tungsten, titanium is a great metal for jewelry with plenty of advantages:

  • Higher scratch-resistance than precious metals

  • More affordable than precious metals

  • Won’t crack or shatter from hard impact

  • Lightweight (can be a matter of preference)

  • Very corrosion-resistant and rust-resistant

  • Won’t fade in color over time

  • Hypoallergenic

  • Versatile colors and finishes available

Now, what are the disadvantages of titanium jewelry?

  • Difficult to resize

  • Difficult to add on traditional prong settings (unless prongs are a different metal)

  • Not as valuable for resale

  • Not as shiny as other metals

With those pros and cons in mind, we’ll see how titanium and tungsten jewelry fares in competition.

tungsten ring with wood inlay

Titanium vs Tungsten Comparison

There are many factors to consider when choosing a jewelry or ring metal, so we’ll go through each factor to see how tungsten and titanium compare.

Tungsten vs Titanium Appearance

Tungsten and titanium have a similar silver-gray to gunmetal-gray color, though you can find black versions of either one. Generally, tungsten is darker than titanium.

One benefit of titanium is that jewelers can anodize it to be various colors such as blue, green, purple, and even rose gold.

Tungsten is currently only available in white, black, or its natural silver-gray. Of course, you can also have it plated with gold or other metals for a different look (though most plating metals can lower the piece’s scratch-resistance).

What about shine? Both titanium and tungsten shine bright, but tungsten has a higher refractive index and tends to maintain its shine for longer.

Next, is tungsten stronger than titanium?

Tungsten vs Titanium Strength

In some ways, tungsten is stronger than titanium, but not in all regards. That’s because a metal’s strength comes from a few factors:

  • Hardness (scratch-resistance)

  • Tensile strength (how much it’ll stretch before breaking)

  • Impact strength (resistance to breaking from a hard blow; low impact strength makes a material “brittle”)

Let’s start with tungsten vs titanium hardness.

Is tungsten or titanium more scratch-resistant? Tungsten and tungsten carbide are more scratch-resistant than titanium. Tungsten ranks at 7.5 on the Mohs scale, tungsten carbide ranks at 8 to 9, and titanium ranks at 6. However, both tungsten and titanium are harder than any of the precious metals.

In terms of tensile strength, tungsten easily beats out titanium; after all, tungsten has the highest tensile strength of any metal. Titanium has about half of the tensile strength of tungsten.

The one area that titanium beats out tungsten is impact strength, as tungsten is brittle and can shatter from a hard blow while titanium will bend instead of cracking or shattering.

Tungsten vs Titanium Weight

If you’re shopping for jewelry you’ll wear all the time, like a wedding band, you may want a heavier or lighter ring (depending on preference).

Metal weight is expressed as its density. If you have two rings with the same dimensions, the ring made of denser material will be heavier.

Titanium is less dense and thus lighter-weight than tungsten and tungsten carbide. In fact, titanium rings are known for being considerably lightweight while tungsten rings are known for being quite heavy.

Another important buying factor is of course, the cost. So, what is more expensive: tungsten or titanium?

Tungsten vs Titanium Price

All other factors (like weight and embellishments) being equal, titanium jewelry is more affordable than tungsten jewelry.

However, both tungsten and titanium are more affordable than precious metals like gold or platinum, and the price of tungsten vs titanium jewelry is pretty similar.

Of course, the metal isn’t the only factor for a jewelry’s price. The quality of the craftsmanship, customization, and added embellishments like engraving or gemstones will also affect the price of both titanium and tungsten jewelry.

Looking at prices for a tungsten vs titanium ring, tungsten rings can range from $20 to $600 while titanium rings can go for $10 to $400. You can find options for both rings that cost up to $10,000 or so, but these options incorporate inlays, precious metals, engravings, and more.

Regardless of price, you’ll want your jewelry to last as long as possible, right? On that note, let’s see how each type of metal holds up over time.

How Long Does Titanium and Tungsten Jewelry Last?

Good news: both titanium and tungsten jewelry are resistant to corrosion, tarnishing, and rusting. They’re also both quite resistant to scratches, though tungsten is harder. Also, an anodized (colored) finish on titanium can scratch, though you can get the finish replaced.

How long does titanium jewelry last? In most cases, a lifetime! Reputable jewelers will offer a lifetime warranty as well. However, lower-grade titanium may not last as long.

How long does tungsten jewelry last? With proper care, good-quality tungsten rings can last a lifetime.

High-quality tungsten jewelry in its natural color (without color coatings) won’t tarnish, but platings and coatings can lower the lifespan of tungsten jewelry. In most cases, tungsten jewelry will last 2 to 5 years before needing some maintenance like repolishing or replating.

titanium wedding band rings

Is Titanium or Tungsten Jewelry Right For You?

Now that you have all the information you need, it’s up to you to decide whether titanium or tungsten jewelry is the best choice for you. If you’re looking for a lightweight but pretty strong metal with some colorful options, titanium may be better. But if you’re looking for the strongest, hardest metal, tungsten is the one.

Ready to shop? Browse our collection of high-quality metal jewelry!

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