So the time has finally come, you’re shopping for wedding rings. Congratulations ! You have a whole lot of options to choose from, and one of the most important decisions is the metal the rings will be made of. If you or your partner would like to go the tough and durable route then tungsten carbide is definitely one of your top choices.
But are tungsten rings any good ? They come at a much cheaper price than the precious metal rings out there, and they definitely look very different from the more delicate ones. So let’s take a closer look at these durable rings and see why they’ve become so popular, especially among men.
Are tungsten rings good ?
Yes, tungsten carbide rings are a great option for jewelry as they provide durability, don’t lose their shine, are very scratch-resistant, and come at an affordable price since this is not a precious metal.
And due to the way tungsten carbide works, it needs to be case but cannot be worked into different shapes, so it most often ends up in a sleek and somewhat futuristic-looking shape. This appeals to many people’s aesthetic.
You can easily find these rings in many jewelry stores or at some retailers. If you’re shopping for wedding rings a few months before the wedding (which we hope you are), you’ll have a good amount of time to decide on a style you both like. This decision takes a while, don’t underestimate it !
What is tungsten carbide, really ?
Tungsten carbide is the actually wearable version of tungsten. This means it’s an alloy, of pure tungsten powder and carbon, and it is not melted but instead pressed into a particular shape with an extreme amount of pressure.
Pure tungsten is toxic to humans, but tungsten bound by carbon atoms is rendered safe. And it is this atom binding that prevents tungsten carbide rings from being melted or resized, as it is impossible to that.
Tungsten carbide may contain trace amounts of nickel, which should not normally trigger an allergic reaction unless you have a severe metal allergy.
Read also: Garnet Engagement Ring Meaning
Does tungsten carbide turn your finger green ?
No, tungsten carbide rings do not normally turn your finger green. They do no contain copper, only trace amounts of nickel in some versions. If you are allergic to nickel your skin may turn red and the parts in contact with the ring may become swollen or raised. Otherwise you are safe.
Can you shower with a tungsten ring ?
Yes, you can shower with a tungsten ring as it does not corrode or rust in contact with water or the chlorine in water (such a pool water). Tungsten carbide rings are also safe for people who tend to sweat a lot, due to their work or genetic predisposition, as this alloy is non-reactive.
Why are tungsten rings so cheap ?
Tungsten carbide rings are cheap because they are not made of a precious metal, and this is the main driving force behind a jewelry piece’s price point.
Also due to the way tungsten carbide is made (pressed, not melted and bent) it’s very difficult to insert gems into these rings. Most often the gems are set in a different metal such as stainless steel or platinum or silver, which then has tungsten carbide pressed onto it, on the sides. This scarcity of gems means most rings are simple, without the extra worth of a gem or diamond.
This low price point can be both good and bad, depending on what you’re looking for in a piece of jewelry. If you’re after prestige and luxury then a cheap metal won’t really be to your liking, as it’s inherently not worth the hassle.
However if you’re looking for jewelry that is simple and will get the job done, regardless of metal or price point, then tungsten carbide may just be a good choice. It really is all about tastes and practicality, or what you define as practical for your life.
Key features of tungsten carbide jewelry and rings
When looking for tungsten carbide jewelry there are a few things you should be always are of. This is not silver or gold, this is a non-precious metal and as such, may behave differently from what you expect. This is why it’s a good idea to read up on the key features of jewelry made form this metal alloy, regardless of what kind of jewelry you’re looking for buy.
Tungsten carbide jewelry is durable, scratch-resistant
If what you’re looking for is a piece of jewelry that is highly durable and dos not scratch, then tungsten carbide is your friend. This metal alloy is tough, very very tough, and it’s very dense. It’s 10 times denser than 18k yellow gold, and 4 times denser than stainless steel.
This mean you won’t easily scratch it, unless you use a diamond or another similarly hard item. This is great for rings and other high-shine items that you may want to retain their perfect finish.
Tungsten carbide may shatter under some circumstances
A flipside of tungsten’s high durability is its ability to shatter, if enough force is applied. Because of its structure, it does not flatten or bend on impact, rather is cracks or completely breaks.
This doesn’t mean it will always shatter if drop it on your front porch, but if you drop it from a high enough point for it to gain momentum, and it hits a sufficiently tough surface, it might crack. If you’re ever in the position to have to remove the ring fast, such as an injury or a dangerously swollen finger, then this might actually be a good thing.
It’s faster to crack a ring and have it shatter, thereby releasing the finger quickly, than having to cut and then bend open a ring. We hope you never find yourself in a position where you have to do that.
Once cracked, fissured, or shattered, tungsten carbide can’t be put back together as it can’t be welded or melted back into its original shape.
Tungsten carbide rings can’t be resized, but can be replaced
As a result of this alloy’s impossibility of being cast and melted, you cannot resize the rings. They cannot be cut and then bent into a smaller or larger shape. However most tungsten carbide jewelry retailers offer a ring replacement policy. This means you can’t resize the ring, but you can be the same ring (or a similar one) in the new size you need.
Tungsten carbide jewelry comes in simple, blocky yet sleek shapes
Due to its structure, tungsten carbide can’t be twisted or bend into specific shapes. But it can be pressed into some pretty unique molds, most of them in a very geometric fashion.
This doesn’t allow for very delicate styles, but it does make for sleek, futuristic-looking rings and jewelry that may appeal to some. Tungsten carbide is especially popular among men, both for rings and earrings.
Tungsten carbide jewelry has no resale value
As established before, tungsten carbide is by no means expensive, despite its durability and toughness. The downside is that you cannot pawn off this ring, or sell it to a jeweler for the metal. There is no easy way of working the metal into another shape. And a pawn shop cannot give you a lot of money in exchange for this ring, since it’s not a valuable ring to begin with.
Jewelry metals similar to tungsten carbide
If you’re looking for other options aside from tungsten carbide, there are a couple you can consider. Keep in mind that both of these are in the same ballpark – affordable, usually come in blocky shapes, are incredibly durable.
Titanium has long been a popular choice for durable jewelry, and it’s a much lighter metal than tungsten carbide. In fact titanium is lighter than stainless steel, about half as light. It’s also possible to resize titanium rings, but it’s very difficult and you cannot go more than one or half a size up or down.
Still, this metal can be easily anodized to increase the thickness of the outer layer than is oxidized. This leads to a multitude of colors that can be applied to titanium rings, if you’d like to.
Titanium also has the distinct advantage of being 100% biocompatible and hypoallergenic, meaning it does not rust, corrode, or otherwise react to anything on or within the human body.
This metal alloy is also very common among men’s wedding bands, resulting in a multitude of options and styles to choose from. While stainless steel does not contain copper, it may contain nickel and as such may trigger an allergic reaction in this who have this allergy.
Stainless steel is denser and thus heavier than titanium, but lighter than tungsten carbide. It may also be shaped into different styles, which tungsten carbide cannot.
I’m the main author for jewelrymaterialguide.com. I started this site after we did tons of research before our wedding and noticed that there is information about rings, jewelry, and so on that is really hard to find on the internet.