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Tungsten Carbide Rings and Their Characteristics

5 min read

Lovely couple with rings

Tungsten carbide rings are an alternative to classic rings, but what exactly is tungsten carbide? And more importantly, is tungsten the right choice for your wedding ring?  Here will break down the pros and cons of this type of metal and see if it is the right material for your wedding band.

So What Exactly Is Tungsten Carbide?

Also known as wolfram, tungsten was discovered in 1781. This somewhat rare chemical element has incredible properties, including having the highest melting point among all metals as well as the highest tensile strength. Tungsten is also incredibly durable.

Since tungsten is too challenging to work with in its pure form, tungsten wedding bands are made of a tungsten carbide compound. Tungsten carbide features tungsten and carbon atoms in equal numbers. The resulting fine powder is combined with a nickel or a cobalt binder. The compound is then ready to use for the manufacturing of products like blades, cutting tools, and wedding bands.

Even though it’s easier to work with, tungsten carbide also retains many of the advantages and features of pure tungsten. These include the high tensile strength and the high melting point. As a result, tungsten wedding bands are incredibly resistant to scratching. Their light gray surface withstands just about anything, but these tungsten carbide rings are also suitable for a wide range of brushing or plating finishes.

Tungsten wedding bands have moderate electrical and heat conductivity properties. Those who work in environments where electricity or heat may pose a safety risk should remove their tungsten wedding rings while working. Alternatively, black ceramic wedding bands offer a good alternative to black tungsten rings.

Contrary to a common myth, tungsten carbide rings can be easily removed in the case of an emergency using standard jewelry removal tools.

Tungsten wedding bands are also heavier than titanium and 14k gold.

Are Tungsten Carbide Rings Brittle?

Over the past couple of years, there have been questions about tungsten’s durability and how brittle tungsten wedding bands really are. Before you decide to buy tungsten wedding bands, you should know more about what exactly is tungsten carbide and if it’s long-lasting.

Tungsten carbide is incredibly durable. It’s more durable than silver and gold, as well as platinum or titanium, and it also has a highly scratch-resistant surface. But tungsten does have brittle properties. Under the right amount of pressure, tungsten wedding bands will crack and then break, unlike gold which bends on impact.

How brittle tungsten wedding rings really are? When made with a high-quality tungsten carbide compound, tungsten rings will break only under extreme pressure. This actually makes tungsten carbide rings a preferred choice for some people who work with heavy machinery.

More Pros and Cons

If you want to go with tungsten wedding bands, you should know the pros and cons of tungsten rings in more depth.

Extremely durable and scratch-resistant, tungsten carbide wedding bands are tougher and more long-lasting than traditional metal rings.  One advantage of tungsten rings is their laser engraving suitability, which offers customization possibilities. Tungsten wedding bands also come in a range of styles, finishes, and colors.

Even high-end tungsten rings and designer tungsten jewelry have a lower price compared to gold or platinum rings. Slightly cheaper alternatives include titanium, stainless steel, or ceramic wedding bands.

Apart from being scratch-resistant, tungsten wedding bands are also resistant to tarnish, patina, and corrosion. This means that non-colored tungsten rings don’t require re-plating over the years.

The main disadvantage of tungsten carbide rings is that you cannot resize them. It’s something to keep in mind for those who are looking for a re-sizable modern ring.

The most scratch-resistant version of tungsten wedding bands, silver gray tungsten carbide rings are available in a somewhat limited range of designs. Although men’s tungsten rings are more varied in style compared to women’s tungsten rings, the designs are often limited to simple contemporary styles. Black finishes along with gold and rose gold plating offer more style options for tungsten wedding bands.

Rose gold wedding bands


Choosing the Best Styles for Tungsten Wedding Bands

Among the more popular men’s tungsten rings, diamond set rings, rings with brushed finishes, flat wedding bands stand out. In the category of women’s tungsten wedding bands, popular designs range from channel set diamond tungsten rings, thin modern styles, as well as tension set rings.

Diamond tungsten rings

For tension set rings, jewelers offer sapphire, diamond, ruby, and moissanite options. To resist the pressure of a tension setting in a tungsten ring, any gemstones should have a hardness of at least 9.0 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness.

When choosing a colored or a two-tone ring, inlays provide a more durable option. Plating treatments and colored finishes may be more vulnerable to scratches, especially if the tungsten ring is worn day after day.

About Black Tungsten Rings

The majority of black tungsten rings feature black plating applied over the silver gray tungsten. This means that the black finish is more prone to scratching. Modern IP plating (or Ion Plating) is a PVD process which deposits atomic-sized energetic particles onto the surface of the tungsten ring. The result is a durable finish that offers superior results to the traditional ‘wet plating’ method. While more scratch-resistant than gold or silver rings, IP black tungsten wedding bands are more susceptible to wear compared to gray tungsten rings.

Best alternatives to black tungsten rings are black ceramic rings.

About Colored Tungsten Rings

Colored tungsten rings are made with a range of finishes and colors. The styles range from simple to complex, with various inlay materials also providing more design options.

Made with a wide variety of styles, colored tungsten wedding bands include both classic and contemporary rings. In the first category you can find tungsten rings with IP gold or with a rose gold plating and a brushed finish. Modern colored tungsten rings include those with bright colors like acid green or vibrant blue.

Inlaid tungsten rings

Many retailers use inlays to add more color and texture to plain tungsten carbide rings. These rings are more creative and feature anything from mother of pearl inlays to red opal or green goldstone.

Buying Tungsten Wedding Bands - Essential Shopping Tips

If you want to buy top quality tungsten rings that will last, remember the following tips:

Choose a retailer that offers a warranty or a return policy if the rings don’t fit perfectly.

Keep in mind that plating is not scratch-resistant, and colored tungsten rings are similar to gold or silver – as in, you should take them off when cleaning, working out, or using metal objects.

Buy your tungsten wedding bands from a retailer that uses high-quality tungsten carbide.

Tungsten rings can’t be resized, so finding the right size is important. Make sure that you get your ring finger sized at least twice over a period of a couple of weeks. Measuring the finger later in the day also ensures a more accurate reading. For more peace of mind, select a retailer that offers returns for non-customized rings.

The popularity of tungsten wedding bands has lead to an abundance of cheap men’s and women’s tungsten rings. When buying your rings, keep in mind that most high-quality tungsten rings have a price of over $50.


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