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Tungsten vs Gold: How They Compare For Jewelry

7 min read

When you're considering the perfect metal for your jewelry, particularly for men's rings, two options that often come to mind are tungsten and gold. Both metals have their unique properties and characteristics, which might leave you wondering which one is the best choice for your needs. We're delving into the key differences between tungsten and gold and showing you their pros and cons.

Tungsten, known for its exceptional durability, is about ten times harder than gold, which makes it extremely scratch-resistant. This high level of hardness makes tungsten a popular choice for those who lead active lifestyles or work with their hands. On the other hand, gold is a classic, timeless choice for jewelry with its bright, slightly reddish-yellow hue and natural, versatile shine. As a softer and more malleable metal, gold bands are easier to resize if needed.

As you weigh your options between tungsten and gold, it's essential to consider factors such as durability, appearance, and ability to resize. Your personal preferences and lifestyle will play a significant role in determining the ideal metal for your jewelry piece.

Overview of Tungsten

Tungsten, also known as wolfram, is a rare metal found naturally on Earth almost exclusively in chemical compounds. It has a bright, slightly reddish-yellow color and is known for its impressive strength and durability.

Tungsten Hardness

When it comes to hardness, tungsten really shines. It's about ten times harder than gold, rating at a nine on the Mohs scale of hardness. To put that into perspective, a diamond is a ten on the Mohs scale, making tungsten an incredibly scratch-resistant material.

Tungsten Durability

One of the key reasons you might consider tungsten for your jewelry is its durability. As mentioned earlier, its hardness makes it highly resistant to scratches. Additionally, tungsten is an intrinsically brittle and hard material, making it difficult to work but also incredibly durable in the long run.

Tungsten Wedding Bands

Tungsten's hardness and durability make it a popular choice for wedding bands, especially for men. If you're looking for a ring that can withstand the test of time and daily wear, a tungsten wedding band might be the perfect choice for you.

Tungsten Alloys

You'll often find tungsten alloyed with other metals to improve its properties. These alloys can offer a range of benefits, such as increased strength and better resistance to wear and tear. Some common tungsten alloys include copper-tungsten, nickel-tungsten, and tungsten carbide.

Properties of Tungsten

Tungsten has some impressive properties that make it stand out as a material of choice in various applications:

  • Hardness: As mentioned earlier, tungsten is incredibly hard, rating at a nine on the Mohs scale of hardness.
  • Density: Tungsten is a dense material, making it heavier than other metals like gold, making it feel more substantial and elegant.
  • Heat resistance: Tungsten has a high melting point and excellent thermal conductivity, allowing it to withstand high temperatures without deforming.
  • Corrosion resistance: Tungsten is quite resistant to corrosion, meaning it won't tarnish or rust easily over time.

As you can see, tungsten has a lot to offer when it comes to strength, durability, and heat resistance, making it an excellent choice for various applications, including wedding bands and more.

Overview of Gold

Gold is a soft, precious metal that has been admired for its beauty and used in jewelry for centuries. It's a natural element, which makes it rare and comparatively expensive. Gold comes in various shades, including yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold, each offering a unique look that appeals to different tastes.

Gold Hardness

Gold has a relatively low hardness on the Mohs scale, around 2.5, which means it's malleable and prone to scratching. The softness of gold makes it easy for jewelers to work with, but it also means that gold jewelry can show wear over time.

Gold Durability

Despite its softness, gold is surprisingly durable and can withstand the test of time if properly cared for. Its resistance to tarnishing, rusting, and corroding makes it a lasting choice for your precious jewelry. However, it's important to keep in mind that gold can be susceptible to dents and scratches due to its soft nature. To maintain gold's appearance, regular cleaning and proper storage are essential.

Gold Jewelry

Gold is the go-to metal for many types of jewelry, including rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Its natural shine and warm, rich hue make it a versatile choice for both contemporary and classic styles. Gold jewelry can be found in a range of purities, with 24-karat gold being the purest. However, pure gold is rarely used in jewelry due to its softness.

Gold Alloys

To enhance the strength and durability of gold, it's often combined with other metals to form alloys. These alloys not only make gold more resistant to wear and tear but also allow for variations in color, like white and rose gold. Common metals used in gold alloys include silver, copper, zinc, and nickel. The resulting alloy maintains the beauty of gold while offering increased resistance to the everyday wear that comes with wearing jewelry.

Comparison of Tungsten and Gold

Tungsten and gold are two popular choices for rings and jewelry and here's a look at how they differ, including pros and cons.

Pros and Cons


  • Pros:
    • Extremely durable and scratch-resistant
    • More affordable than gold
    • Maintains its shine and polish longer
  • Cons:
    • Not as valuable as gold
    • Less malleable, making intricate designs more challenging
    • Cannot be resized easily


  • Pros:
    • Highly valued and recognized
    • Malleable, allowing for intricate designs
    • Can be resized and repaired more easily
  • Cons:
    • Softer metal, more prone to scratches and dents
    • More expensive than tungsten
    • Requires more maintenance to keep its shine

Weight Comparison

Tungsten is a denser and heavier metal compared to gold. When comparing a tungsten ring to a gold ring of the same size, you'll notice the tungsten ring feels heavier in your hand. Some people prefer the heavier feel of a tungsten ring, while others might find it less comfortable to wear.

Melting Point Comparison

Tungsten has a higher melting point than gold, making it more resistant to heat. The melting point of tungsten is around 3,410°C (6,170°F), whereas gold has a melting point of 1,064°C (1,947°F). This difference in melting points is generally not a significant factor for jewelry wearers but can be worth noting for certain industrial applications.

Hypoallergenic Properties of Gold and Tungsten

When it comes to choosing jewelry, especially rings, you may consider the hypoallergenic properties of the metals used. Both gold and tungsten are excellent options for those with sensitive skin or allergies to certain metals.

While gold is not entirely hypoallergenic, it's often mixed with other metals to make it more durable and resistant to wear. Most often, you'll find 14 karat gold, which contains 14 parts gold and 10 parts of other alloys. Higher karat gold, like 18 karat, contains a higher percentage of gold and is less likely to cause an allergic reaction. So, if you have sensitive skin, consider opting for a higher karat gold.

On the other hand, tungsten is a fantastic alternative for those who may have an allergy to gold or nickel. Composed of nickel-binder alloys, tungsten's hypoallergenic qualities make it an ideal choice for people with sensitive skin. Additionally, tungsten is a hard and durable metal, capable of withstanding daily wear and tear. Keep in mind that tungsten rings cannot be resized due to their hardness, so make sure you get the right size from the start.

Cost and Affordability Comparison

When considering tungsten vs gold for your jewelry, it's essential to compare their costs and affordability. Here's a quick look at the costs of each metal to help you make an informed decision.

Cost of Tungsten

Tungsten is known for its durability and affordability. While the price of tungsten jewelry can vary depending on design and quality, the average cost for men's tungsten rings falls within a range of $50 to $200. Bracelets and necklaces made from tungsten typically cost between $100 and $500. In comparison to gold and platinum, tungsten is a more budget-friendly option for those who seek a durable and stylish piece of jewelry without breaking the bank.

Cost of Gold

Gold, on the other hand, is a more expensive option when it comes to jewelry. The cost of gold jewelry is often determined by factors like purity, weight, and design. Gold and platinum bands can have a price range of $500 to $1,000 or more. Of course, higher-purity gold items will come with a heftier price tag.

So, if you're looking for a less expensive choice, tungsten can be a more affordable option compared to gold.

Care and Durability of Tungsten and Gold

Tungsten and gold have some key differences in terms of care and durability. One of the most notable differences is their scratch resistance.

Tungsten is a strong and dense metal that's incredibly scratch-resistant and durable. You won't have to worry about your tungsten jewelry getting easily scratched or damaged, making it ideal for those with active lifestyles.

However, tungsten rings are more brittle than gold, making them susceptible to breaking if subjected to extreme force. To maintain your tungsten jewelry's appearance, avoid exposing it to harsh chemicals or abrasives. Cleaning your tungsten jewelry is pretty simple - just use a mild soap and warm water, gently scrubbing with a soft toothbrush.

Gold, on the other hand, is a softer and more malleable metal, which means it's more susceptible to scratches and dents compared to tungsten. However, gold's malleability makes it easier to resize and repair, unlike tungsten jewelry.

To care for your gold jewelry, store it separately from other pieces to avoid scratches. Clean gold jewelry with a soft brush, lukewarm water, and mild soap. Make sure to avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners that could damage your gold items.

So, while tungsten is a highly durable and scratch-resistant metal, gold offers a more classic and valuable appearance. Each metal has its unique benefits and considerations in terms of care, so it's essential to consider your lifestyle and preferences when choosing between these two metals for your jewelry pieces.

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