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In recent years, tungsten has become one of the most popular metals for wedding bands. It is a stylish, affordable choice for modern wedding band designs, with excellent wearability. However, not many people know what tungsten is or whether it suits their purposes. Here we break down the facts, pros, cons and myths of tungsten so you can decide if this is the right metal for you.
What is Tungsten?
Tungsten, also known as wolfram, is a chemical element found on the periodic table. It gets its name from a Swedish phrase meaning ‘heavy stone’, indicative of the metal’s weight and strength. Tungsten is often described using superlatives. Here are some:
- Tungsten has the highest melting point of all metals
- It is the heaviest metal used in jewelry
- It is the hardest and most scratch resistant metal
- It is the most popular metal for men’s wedding rings in America
Tungsten vs. Tungsten Carbide
Although often used interchangeably, there are differences between these two terms. Tungsten in its pure form cannot be used in jewelry. Instead, it is formed into a metal, consisting of approximately 85% tungsten and 15% carbon, nickel or cobalt which is known as tungsten carbide.
Because tungsten is very brittle, mixing it with carbon reduces this characteristic, making the metal more durable and easier to work with. The nickel or cobalt acts as a binder, holding the metal together and making it possible to shape it.
Tungsten carbide with a nickel binder is considered top quality and ideal for wedding bands. However, tungsten carbide with cobalt as a binder is not recommended for jewelry as the cobalt, which tends to react with body oils, can cause skin irritations and staining.
As we’ve just mentioned, tungsten carbide contains carbon. Tungsten without carbon is just a steel ring, with a Mohs of 7.5. It can still get scratched and damaged. However, when carbon is added into the mix to create carbide, the resulting metal becomes extremely tough and durable.
Some vendors sell tungsten rings but call them tungsten carbide. So take care as not every tungsten carbide ring on the market is actually carbide.
Tungsten Pros – Reasons to Buy Tungsten Rings
In the modern jewelry world, industrial metals such as tungsten, titanium and stainless steel are in vogue, especially used in men’s jewelry, wedding bands and costume jewelry. Here are the benefits of tungsten:
1- Tungsten Affordability
Tungsten is a very affordable metal, and unlike the precious metals, is easy on your wallet. There are different grades of tungsten carbide used in jewelry which can impact the price. For example, high quality tungsten with carbon and nickel included can cost more than other lower grade tungsten carbide combinations.
Compare this white gold comfort fit wedding band with this comfort fit tungsten wedding band. The two rings are very similar looking but the difference in price is considerable!
Some people find that tungsten’s lack of monetary worth makes it cheap and therefore not a good choice for wedding bands. This comes down to personal preference and values.
2- Tungsten Durability
In the department of durability, tungsten carbide beats all other metals. This is how tungsten compares to other metals:
- Gold (3 Mohs)
- Platinum (4.5 Mohs)
- Palladium (4.5 Mohs)
- Rhodium (6 Mohs)
- Titanium (6 Mohs)
- Tungsten (9)
In fact, it is the hardest metal used in jewelry and the most scratch-resistant. As an object can only be scratched by another object that is harder than it, tungsten cannot be scratched by most materials. Some substances that can cause scratch tungsten are diamonds and moissanites. This means that regardless of the exposure your tungsten ring is subject to, it remains free of scratches.
3- Tungsten’s Luster
Tungsten rings are highly resistant to tarnishing and corrosion. Over time they do not change color or lose their shine.
Because they don’t easily acquire scratches, tungsten remains lustrous and shiny. As a result, this metal has earned itself the nickname ‘forever polished’.
4- Tungsten Color
Tungsten is found in several popular colors. Gunmetal gray is a popular color for tungsten and makes for very handsome and unique wedding bands, while white offers a sleek and contemporary choice. White tungsten carbide is very similar in appearance to the popular platinum and white gold metals, giving a modern, stylish look to the wedding band.
You may be considering a black tungsten ring as this offers a striking and nonconventional look, ideal for someone looking to be different. However, black tungsten is made by plating the metal with a coating of black material.
While plating tungsten allows for the metal to have different and attractive hues, it also means that over time the plate will flake off and require you to have the piece re-plated.
There are also options of having your tungsten ring plated in other colors such as rose gold or yellow gold.
5- Tungsten Weight
Most men like the feel of a solid ring on their fingers. Tungsten are the heaviest rings on the market, giving weight to your jewelry. It is somewhat heavier than 14K gold and much heavier than metals such as titanium and stainless steel.
Tungsten Cons – The Disadvantages of Tungsten
Although tungsten is a durable and affordable metal, there are some obvious disadvantages in having tungsten jewelry.
1- Resizing Tungsten
Your fingers do not remain the same size as the years pass by. They will change and your ring will have to change with them. Because tungsten rings cannot be resized, you will have to change the ring altogether.
While this is a practical and affordable step to take, for some it undermines the purpose of a wedding ring as a symbol of love and long-term commitment. There is an emotional tug if you have to get rid of the ring you exchanged on your wedding day, no matter the reason. If it’s any consolation, some vendors often provide a lifetime warranty where they will provide you with a ring that fits.
2- Tungsten Scratches
Hardness in metal is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, your tungsten jewelry doesn’t get scratched easily. But on the other hand, it does the scratching. Tungsten is extremely hard, ranking at about 8 to 9 on the Mohs scale.
How does this affect?
It means that your tungsten ring can scratch and scuff every object that it comes into contact with, if it is harder than it. Some people find that household objects such as fridge handles and glasses get scratched as it comes into contact with their ring.
3- Tungsten Shatters
Because tungsten carbide is so hard and brittle, it does not bend or lose shape. Instead, it can crack or shatter if dealt an extremely hard blow, much like a diamond.
If your ring is exposed to rough wear and knocks, there is the likelihood that it will crack and come apart. A reputable vendor should offer a lifetime warranty in case of breakage and replace your tungsten ring.
4- Tungsten is not Valuable
Tungsten is not a precious metal and does not have the prestige or value that gold, silver or platinum have. It is considered a cheap metal. Most people like to have their wedding bands made of precious metals to attach more value to it. Also, it is a fairly recent addition to wedding band metals and it is yet to be seen whether tungsten can stand the test of time as a metal for wedding rings or if it will go out of fashion down the track.
5- Tungsten and Allergies
Most high-quality tungsten carbide is hypoallergenic. However, sometimes tungsten carbide can cause skin reactions and irritations.
This occurs if cobalt has been included in the metal, which is a common allergen for people with metal allergies. Nickel is a common allergen for people with metal allergies but the amount of nickel used in tungsten is negligible and rarely causes reactions.
6- Tungsten Liquidity
Unlike precious metals, tungsten cannot be liquidated into cash easily as it is not valued as a tradeable commodity.Tungsten is not an investment metal. If liquidity is important to you, choose a precious metal, such as gold.
7- Limited Choices
Although tungsten is popular, tungsten jewelry on the market is very limited when it comes to design. There aren’t many wedding band styles for men and women in tungsten, with most being similar-looking contemporary, shiny designs.
This is because tungsten is not a very pliable metal and is difficult to work with. If you are after something more elaborate or full of character, you may have to choose from other metals.
Myths About Tungsten
There are certain myths about tungsten that you are bound to come across when searching for information on tungsten. Here are some common tungsten myths:
- Many people say that a tungsten ring cannot be removed during an emergency due to its extreme hardness. This is not true. A tungsten ring can be removed with common equipment used in such circumstances. Rather than being cut through, as would be the case with metals such as gold and silver, tungsten rings need to be shattered or cracked using pliers. Some people prefer that tungsten breaks rather than bends, as it can prove safer if you have to work with heavy objects or machinery. Wouldn’t you prefer a ring that shatters if a heavy object falls on your hand, rather than flatten itself sharply into your finger?
- Some consumers look for pure tungsten carbide rings, just like you would look for 24 karat gold or 99.9% silver. Unfortunately, pure tungsten is not used in jewelry as it cannot be shaped easily. This is why binder metals such as nickel or cobalt is used to make tungsten more workable.
- Some people believe that tungsten rings are forever; that they cannot be destroyed. This is simply not true. As we’ve mentioned above, tungsten carbide is very brittle and hard. Just because it is scratch-resistant doesn’t mean that it is indestructible. A good blow can shatter and crack tungsten jewelry.
When deciding on tungsten, consider your reasons for buying the metal and what your priorities and values are. Overall, tungsten is a very good metal choice if price and durability are at the forefront of your decision.
Where to Buy Tungsten Rings
If you’re wondering where to purchase high quality tungsten rings, we recommend searching on the following platforms:
- Blue Nile has an excellent collection of tungsten rings at competitive prices. Blue Nile is known for their quality, reasonable pricing and for being an online giant in the diamond industry with the largest inventory of diamonds.
- James Allen also carries an excellent range of tungsten products as well as rings made of other alternative metals. All these products are viewable in 360 HD video and images.
- Etsy is an excellent source for a range of tungsten ring designs at competitive prices. Most of these are handmade and unique in style.
Why should I buy tungsten? ›
Pro: Hypoallergenic Properties
Tungsten won't trigger an allergic reaction in anybody. Grooms who are typically sensitive to other metals, such as gold, can safely wear a tungsten band without worry.
Current uses are as electrodes, heating elements and field emitters, and as filaments in light bulbs and cathode ray tubes. Tungsten is commonly used in heavy metal alloys such as high speed steel, from which cutting tools are manufactured. It is also used in the so-called 'superalloys' to form wear-resistant coatings.What is so special about tungsten? ›
Tungsten is used in many different ways because it is very strong and durable. It is very resistant to corrosion and has the highest melting point and highest tensile strength of any element. Its strength comes when it is made into compounds, though. Pure tungsten is very soft.Is tungsten worth much? ›
Form of Tungsten
A broad range of prices for finished tungsten products would be from $25 to $2500 per kilo, with the majority of products in the $100 to $350 per kilo range.
Can I wear my Tungsten ring in the shower? Unlike sterling silver, your tungsten ring won't scratch or tarnish, so it can stay on in the shower or bath.Is tungsten worth more than gold? ›
Plentiful - Tungsten is fairly plentiful compared to other metals. Cheaper - Thanks to the large amount of tungsten, it is significantly cheaper than gold. Hypoallergenic - Tungsten is a fantastic option for those with allergies to gold or nickel.Can tungsten rust? ›
Unless it will be in an environment that is 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit, your tungsten ring will not rust or tarnish. Tungsten is sometimes even used in heating devices because of its ability to withstand high heat levels. A tungsten alloy ring can rust, however, when it contains certain more rust-prone metals.Is tungsten rare or common? ›
Tungsten is classified as a rare metal though it's found in many countries. It is indispensable because of its many applications. It's the second hardest material with the second highest melting point (diamonds ranks as first in both categories), and thus there are few materials that can be substituted for it.Where can you find tungsten? ›
It is chiefly obtained from the minerals scheelite and wolframite. Ferberite and huebnerite are other tungsten-bearing minerals. Tungsten is mined in China, Russia, Portugal, Austria and Bolivia. China is reported to have about 75% of the world's tungsten supply.What's the strongest metal on earth? ›
Impact strength determines how much energy a metal can absorb through impact without shattering or fracturing. Tungsten, which is Swedish for "heavy stone," is the strongest metal in the world. It was identified as a new element in 1781.
How much is a pound of tungsten? ›
$3.25/lb These prices are current as of today's date and are subject to change, at any time due to outstanding market conditions.What are tungsten prices? ›
Tungsten is a rare metal that has the highest melting and boiling point of all known elements. In 2022, the average price of tungsten was around 270 U.S. dollars per metric ton unit of tungsten trioxide.Do tungsten rings last forever? ›
Tungsten carbide is a hard, durable material that will remain polished virtually forever. Of course, there are some shortcomings that coincide with purchasing a tungsten carbide ring. For starters, there's a chance your supplier may be offering a ring with a purity level that is lower than 80 percent.What ruins tungsten? ›
Important Information regarding cleaning your tungsten:
Do not, by any means, using any harsh cleaning materials/chemicals such as ammonia, bleach or chlorine. These chemicals can damage your tungsten ring. It would be wise to avoid any chlorine treated pools or Jacuzzis when using your ring.
Alcohol hand sanitizers, lotions and dirt can leave build-up on your ring which might make your ring appear darker. When this happens, just wash your all your tungsten rings as directed above while thoroughly wiping the surfaces.Does hand sanitizer ruin tungsten? ›
Any other types of cleaning solutions or lotions can damage tungsten by reacting poorly with its composition. Alcohol hand sanitizer and dirt can leave buildup on your ring, which can make your ring look darker. When this happens, simply clean all the tungsten rings as described above and wipe the surface thoroughly.Why not to buy a tungsten ring? ›
For most people, the biggest downside of tungsten rings is that they're basically impossible to resize. Typical gold and silver rings are easy to resize because they're soft. Tungsten is anything but soft — so once a tungsten carbide ring is cast and machined, it's the size it will always be.Can you break a tungsten ring? ›
What some may find odd or shocking is that tungsten rings are not indestructible. Tungsten carbide rings can break! If a tungsten ring is dropped on a hard surface, it can break or crack.Is tungsten toxic to humans? ›
Tungsten has been the subject of numerous in vivo experimental and in vitro studies in view of determining its metabolic and toxicity profile. However, tungsten and its compounds are not considered very toxic for humans. Most existing human toxicology information comes from chronic occupational exposure.Will tungsten stick to a magnet? ›
Many common metals such as aluminum, copper, brass, gold, silver, titanium, tungsten, and lead are not ferromagnetic. They cannot be made into magnets and will not be attracted to magnetic fields.
Will tungsten turn my finger green? ›
Tungsten carbide rings do not turn your finger green, regardless whether nickel or cobalt is used in the binding process. Despite the fact that several websites claim that their tungsten rings do not turn finger green because nickel is used as binder, it is not the truth. These claim are false and unfounded.Does tungsten jewelry turn green? ›
Will a tungsten ring turn your finger green? No! The reason some cheap rings turn your finger green is that they contain copper. All our tungsten rings contain only tungsten and nickel.What is tungsten weakness? ›
Tungsten's very high melting point is also its weakness: It makes it very hard to work: Melting & casting is practically impossible, sawing, machining & forming very difficult.Is it hard to get tungsten? ›
Tungsten makes up a very small portion of the Earth's crust and is a very scarce metal.Is tungsten stronger than a diamond? ›
Tungsten measures between 8 and 9 on the Mohs hardness scale. (Diamonds are a 10 - the highest.) Due to their extreme hardness, Tungsten Rings will hold their shape and shine longer than any ring on the market.Can you buy tungsten? ›
Remember, unlike Nickel Ingots, Tungsten Ingots are not purchasable. Nickel Ingots will appear for sale in some merchants once you discover your first Nickel Ingots. Tungsten Ingots are only to be found, however, and will never be purchasable.What is another name for tungsten? ›
tungsten (W), also called wolfram, chemical element, an exceptionally strong refractory metal of Group 6 (VIb) of the periodic table, used in steels to increase hardness and strength and in lamp filaments.Where is tungsten found in the US? ›
For decades, the largest tungsten producer in the U.S. was located in a spectacular setting in the high Sierra Nevada, with some of the workings over 11,000 feet.Can the sun melt tungsten? ›
The first problem would be sunlight. As the countertop approached the Sun, it would heat up. Tungsten has the highest melting point of any element, but the Sun is one of the meltiest things in the Solar System. When the countertop got within a couple of solar radii, it would liquify.Is tungsten used in bullets? ›
Jose Centeno and colleagues explain that tungsten alloys have been introduced as a replacement for lead in bullets and other munitions.
What powers does tungsten have? ›
The bulk metal resists attack by oxygen, acids and alkalis. Tungsten has the highest melting point of any metal. Tungsten is used in filaments in incandescent light bulbs, it is also used in electric contacts and arc-welding electrodes. Tungsten is used in alloys, such as steel, to which it imparts great strength.What is the weakest metal? ›
Mercury is a liquid at room temperature. It has the weakest metallic bonding of all, as indicated by its bonding energy (61 kJ/mol) and melting point (−39 °C) which, together, are the lowest of all the metallic elements.Can tungsten be melted? ›
Having the highest melting point of any known metal, at 6192°F, obviously tungsten would be very difficult to melt. In theory, anything can be melted if you apply enough heat. However, for commercial purposes, the high tungsten melting point makes liquid tungsten a virtually impossible proposition.What metal is stronger than diamond? ›
The structure of boron nitride in its wurtzite configuration is stronger than diamonds. Boron nitride can also be used to construct nanotubes, aerogels, and a wide variety of other fascinating applications.How heavy is a 10 inch cube of tungsten? ›
Now you can own a 10mm cube of tungsten, with a weight of 19.1g.Is tungsten a good investment? ›
If you are looking for stocks with good return, Tungsten Corp can be a profitable investment option. Tungsten Corp quote is equal to 0.000100 USD at 2023-02-27. Based on our forecasts, a long-term increase is expected, the "TUNG" stock price prognosis for 2024-03-04 is 0.00681 USD.How heavy is 1 cubic inch of tungsten? ›
Cemented Tungsten Carbide is very heavy, with a density of . 54 pounds per cubic inch or 15 grams per cubic centimeter.Is tungsten in high demand? ›
|Market Size in 2017:||3.5 Billion (USD)|
|Forecast Period:||2018 to 2025|
|Forecast Period 2018 to 2025 CAGR:||8%|
Amid the COVID-19 crisis, the global market for Tungsten estimated at 91.5 Thousand Metric Tons in the year 2020, is projected to reach a revised size of 115 Thousand Metric Tons by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 3.9% over the analysis period.Can you wear tungsten everyday? ›
It is scratch resistant and tough; if you work with your hands, tungsten is an appropriate metal for daily wear and extreme use.
What happens if a tungsten ring gets stuck? ›
Use a vise grip wrench
While unscratchable, tungsten rings are very brittle and not malleable. Gently apply firm compression using an adjustable vise grip (borrow from your hospital's electrical or engineering department). This will fracture the ring. Carefully collect the pieces, which may have sharp edges.
Tungsten steel (tungsten carbide) with high hardness and although it is weaker than the hardest diamond in the world, it is enough. Therefore, the ring made of tungsten carbide can not only be decorated, but also can be used for first aid and window breaking.What is one advantage of having a tungsten target? ›
Tungsten is the preferred target material in x-ray tubes due to its desirable properties such as high atomic number for Bremsstrahlung production and a high melting point (3422 °C).What are the disadvantages of tungsten metal? ›
One major disadvantage of tungsten is its brittleness below the ductile-to-brittle transition temperature, which ranges from 400 to 700 K , depending on the preparation history of the material. To eliminate the issue of brittleness by using tungsten, different composite approaches are investigated.What are the weaknesses of tungsten? ›
Tungsten's very high melting point is also its weakness: It makes it very hard to work: Melting & casting is practically impossible, sawing, machining & forming very difficult.What industry uses the most tungsten? ›
|Segments covered:||Application, End-use and Region|
As well as being incredibly dense it is also incredibly hard and has the highest melting point of all the elements at 3,422C.Will tungsten turn finger green? ›
Tungsten carbide rings do not turn your finger green, regardless whether nickel or cobalt is used in the binding process. Despite the fact that several websites claim that their tungsten rings do not turn finger green because nickel is used as binder, it is not the truth. These claim are false and unfounded.Does tungsten rust in water? ›
It was recently discovered that significant erosion/corrosion occurs with machinable tungsten when exposed to water, particularly when the water has dissolved oxygen present.How long will a tungsten ring last? ›
“The best quality tungsten carbide rings include at least 80 percent tungsten,” says Blue Nile senior merchandiser Roxanna Rector. “This combination makes rings that are strong, hypoallergenic, tarnish-resistant, and that will maintain their polish for a lifetime.”