Tungsten has become the most popular men’s wedding ring metal in the United States. What makes it so special? Tungsten is a hard, durable and scratch resistant metal. Not to mention it’s super stylish! Tungsten is available in a variety of colors and styles, however it’s known for its minimal, sleek and polished look.
There are many advantages to buying tungsten rings, most notably, they are highly durable and built to last. However, there are variables to consider when purchasing a jewelry item as important as a wedding ring.
Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about tungsten wedding rings.
Like many popular jewelry metals, tungsten is crafted from a combination of metals. The alloy mixture includes 80% tungsten and 20% carbon. Sometimes the mixture is 85/15, and nickel or cobalt can be used with or in place of the carbon.
Pure tungsten is not nearly hard enough to use in jewelry, which is why an alloy mixture is necessary. The result is tungsten carbide, an extremely hard, scratch resistant metal. Tungsten alone is too brittle, however when it is mixed with carbon it becomes a highly durable metal perfect for daily wear. Although it’s the heaviest jewelry metal, it’s also the hardest and most scratch resistant.
The nickel in tungsten carbide binds the metal together, making it more durable and malleable for shaping into jewelry. However, when cobalt is used instead of nickel it causes skin reactions and irritation, which is why cobalt tungsten is not ideal for jewelry use.
When buying tungsten rings, you’re actually purchasing tungsten carbide. While the names are used synonymously, there are important differences between tungsten and tungsten carbide. This is why it’s essential that buyers are vigilant in ensuring their tungsten ring is actually tungsten carbide.
As you’ve likely gathered by now, tungsten carbide is extremely durable. In fact, it’s more durable than any other jewelry metals. How do we draw this conclusion? Metal hardness is measured on a scale from 1 to 10 via the Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness. Let’s have a look at where tungsten lands on the Mohs scale compared to other popular jewelry metals.
As you can see, tungsten sits comfortably between 8.5 to 9, alongside some of the hardest natural minerals including Sapphire and Spinel. How does the Mohs rating translate to durability? Well, when a metal is hard, it means it does not scratch or break easily. In fact, tungsten can only be scratched by something harder than itself. Because tungsten lands high on the Mohs scale, anything between 9 to 10 can scratch it. The most popular natural minerals with a hardness between 9 to 10 used in jewelry are diamonds. This means that you won’t have to worry about your tungsten ring scratching because few natural minerals are actually harder than tungsten.
Luster: In addition to its durability, tungsten carbide is strong and resistant to corrosion and tarnishing over time. This means that tungsten rings will retain their sheen and luster long-term. You won’t have to worry about discoloration or dullness. Furthermore, because tungsten carbide is scratch resistant and retains its gorgeous luster, it’s been coined the ring that is “forever polished.” Well deserved, don’t you think?
Color: The most popular color of tungsten rings is gunmetal gray. Tungsten rings are minimal and durable, and gunmetal gray accentuates its masculinity. However, there are additional colors available including white, platinum and white gold. Tungsten rings are also available in two-tone black and gunmetal gray. One thing to consider when buying black tungsten rings is that the black is actually plated and coated in black. Any plated jewelry will require replating long term, which is something to consider when buying tungsten rings.
Weight: Tungsten is a heavy metal, heavier than most other popular jewelry metals including gold, stainless steel and titanium. Weight is generally considered a positive attribute in jewelry as it feels solid, substantial and durable.
By far, the most popular use of tungsten in jewelry is for men’s wedding rings and bands. If you’re looking for a durable, sleek, minimal and stylish wedding band, tungsten is a great choice. However, before you fully commit to buying a tungsten wedding ring, let’s briefly explore the disadvantages. Starting with…
Resizing tungsten rings: The truth is that tungsten rings are extremely difficult to resize. In fact, if your ring size changes over time you’ll have to buy a new wedding ring. If wearing the same ring for the rest of your life is important to you, tungsten might not be the best choice.
Tungsten and skin: Tungsten carbide is actually hypoallergenic, meaning it won’t irritate the skin. However, alloy metals in tungsten carbide including nickel and cobalt can cause allergic reactions. That said, the amount of nickel used in tungsten carbide is so low that it’s unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. The metal you want to be wary of is cobalt. As such, look for the “cobalt-free” label when buying tungsten wedding rings.
Scratches and shattering: While tungsten is virtually scratch resistant due to its hardness, it can scratch other surfaces that are less hard than it. As you move throughout your home or workspace, tungsten may come into contact with surfaces less hard and ultimately scratch them. In addition, tungsten is brittle and does not misshape. While this is part of what makes it such a durable jewelry metal, it’s inability to bend makes it susceptible to cracking or shattering. Due to this fact, you’ll want to buy a tungsten ring that has a lifetime warranty. in the event your tungsten ring shatters or breaks, your jeweler will replace your ring.
In addition to being a durable jewelry metal, tungsten is also affordable. The advantages of tungsten rings outweigh the disadvantages, but ultimately it depends on your personal preference. If you’re looking for a men’s wedding ring that’s durable, stylish, minimal and built to last, tungsten is an excellent choice!
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