Tickled By Tungsten

tungsten carbide engagement ring

If you are looking for a sleek, contemporary style of wedding band at a reasonable price,  you should definitely consider purchasing one made from tungsten.

In this full-length guide to buying tungsten wedding bands, we will go over what you’ll need to consider when purchasing one of these bands, including:

  • Pros
  • Cons
  • Characteristics
  • Best & Worst Styles
  • What To Avoid
  • Shopping Tips

Once you’ve read our guide to tungsten wedding bands, you can make your purchase with confidence when it comes to this particular material.

If you have any questions, leave them below in our comment box and we will try our best to answer any concerns that come up!

Quick & Basic Facts About Tungsten Wedding Bands & Rings

  1. A tungsten band is on the whole heavier than cobalt, stainless steel, and titanium rings
  2. All tungsten rings are made using tungsten carbide, which is a compound that has equal parts tungsten and carbon atoms
  3. Tungsten bands are highly scratch-resistant

Main Characteristics Of Tungsten Carbide Wedding Rings

what is tungsten

So, what exactly is tungsten? Also called wolfram, tungsten is basically a chemical element that has some truly astonishing properties. Compared to all other wedding band materials, it turns out that tungsten is the one with the highest tensile strength, as well as the highest melting point. Durable and rare?  You bet!

As we mentioned already, wedding bands made from tungsten are not just made from tungsten alone, but tungsten carbide. In its purest form, tungsten is really hard to work with, so when this metal is used for applications such as jewelry, not to mention industrial uses, it is made into its carbide form for ease of use.

How is tungsten carbide created? You need the same amount of tungsten as carbon atoms. This is taken, in its powdered form, and then it is combined with some type of binding agent, such as cobalt or nickel, in order to produce a compound which can be sculpted into various shapes, such as wedding rings, or even razors.

Luckily, tungsten carbide manages to keep many of the aspects of tungsten itself, including that incredibly high tensile strength and melting point. The result is a light grey colour which can be darkened up with a brush finish, and as we said these rings are very resistant to scratching.

One safety concern with tungsten carbide that we want to mention, is that this material can conduct slight amounts of heat and electricity. You won’t have this concern with steel, or even a wooden wedding band, so consider this carefully, if you or your partner feel that it might pose an issue.

In case of emergency, these rings can be removed either by hand or with tools. There is a misconception that they can’t, but this is only a myth.

If you know how it feels to wear 14k gold, you should know that tungsten wedding bands are slightly heavier than gold.

What Are The Best Tungsten Or Tungsten Carbide Wedding Bands?

tungsten carbide wedding band blue

We think that the highest quality tungsten wedding bands are created using jewelry grade tungsten carbide along with a nickel binder.

If you are allergic to nickel, its worth noting that while nickel and gold have been known to produce allergy symptoms, the specific amount of nickel used in making tungsten carbide rings is very low. Also, because the nickel bonds very tightly to the tungsten carbide atoms,  allergy risks are minimized.

Another thing you should be aware of is when tungsten carbide is combined with cobalt binders. We feel that this should be avoided if at all possible, with any type of jewelry, including wedding bands. Why? Not only is cobalt notorious for causing allergies in people, but when cobalt mixes with skin’s natural oils, it can result in permanent stains on the ring.

There is a huge range when it comes to the price of tungsten carbide wedding bands, from $10 to well over $500 for a quality product. Why the discrepancy? It all depends on the grade of tungsten carbide, and the amount of nickel that is present in the ring. Generally speaking, the more high quality tungsten carbide that is contained in the product, the higher the price tag. Also, if there are any diamonds, this too will increase the price.

Black Tungsten Rings

As we mentioned, the natural colour of tungsten carbide is a grey.  A plate is added to cover the grey in order to achieve a black colour. Unfortunately, this will eventually scratch. It doesn’t matter if the plate contains tungsten carbide or not, scratches will be noticeable.

 We do not usually recommend black tungsten carbide wedding bands for that reason. There is one exception though...  the more expensive Titanium Kay 2nd generation wedding ring made of a black tungsten carbide that is completely 100% scratch proof. This one is great, and we can honestly say its worth it.

Tungsten Wedding Bands - Are They Brittle?

Some people question the durability of a tungsten carbide wedding band.
Here is some information that will clear this up for you,

Compared to gold, silver, platinum, or palladium, tungsten carbide is a very, very durable material.  The reason why people think that it isn’t durable, is because it will break before it bends, given enough pressure. With gold or platinum,  substantial pressure applied will eventually cause these materials to warp.  Tungsten carbide does not experience this - it will crack first.

So how much force are we talking about here? If your ring is made from high quality tungsten carbide, unless the force is extreme, you have nothing to worry about. For instance, if you work in a factory, you might actually prefer a tungsten carbide ring because it can stand up to a lot of force, whereas a gold ring will not.

Those who sell wedding bands made from tungsten carbide do acknowledge these facts about the material - that, although unlikely, they could break. Most reputable retailers will offer a replacement if this happens.

Pros & Cons Of Tungsten Carbide Wedding Rings

Let’s start with the good news first…

  • Scratch resistant
  • Durable, more so than most other traditional materials
  • The ring can be engraved with a laser tool
  • Available in dark grey brushed finish, or a mirror finish
  • Even high end brands are reasonably priced
  • They don’t require a rhodium plate
  • Tarnish and corrosion resistant

Now for the bad news…

  • For resizing, they are not a good option - stick with cobalt chrome for that
  • Style selections limited - presently more men’s styles than women’s 
  • Not malleable

Tungsten Wedding Bands - The Best Styles

black tungsten carbide engagement rings

What's popular this year for men in tungsten rings?......  flat bands, comfort fit rings, rings with brushed layers, and channel set diamond tungsten rings.

For women?..... channel set diamond rings,  tension set tungsten engagement rings  and thinner contemporary ring types.

If you are looking to get a tungsten tension set ring, you should opt for a set with rubies, sapphires, diamonds, or moissanite. On the Moh’s hardness scale, you’re looking at a gem that should have at least a 9.0 rating in order to hold up a tension setting.  Be wary of tension sets made with  'softer' materials  like topaz, aquamarine, and cubic zirconia - these will crack over time in a tension setting.

What are the best tungsten wedding bands of 2016? Click here to see our list

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