The use of tungsten carbide for jewellery and wedding bands have exploded in popularity over the last few years in a shift away from traditional precious metals such as gold and silver. The experts at The Ring Shop are here to explain exactly what tungsten carbide is, why it’s a fantastic option to add to your jewellery collection, and how to care for your ring should you get one.
What is Tungsten Carbide?
Tungsten carbide rings have recently become popular fashion statements for both men and women. The primary chemical element of tungsten carbide is tungsten, which by itself is already a very unique element. It has the highest melting point of any metal of 3,410 °C (or 6,170 °F) and when combined into a compound, has the highest tensile strength of any element.
To create tungsten carbide, tungsten is combined with carbon to counteract its brittle nature, and with very small amounts of nickel and other elements such as chromium and titanium as a binder to hold the metal together and allows it to be shaped.
This process retains the excellent properties of tungsten, such as its high melting point and tensile strength, whilst also ensuring the final product is extremely durable, scratch resistant and a piece that will stand the test of time.
Why you should get a tungsten carbide ring
Tungsten carbide is one of the strongest composites used for jewellery, and is one of our most popular material choices for our rings. It is approximately 10 times harder than gold, and is often referred to as the metal with the “permanent shine”.
Wearers of tungsten carbide rings adore them for the comfortable, weighty feel on their fingertips. Tungsten by nature is very dense, which gives it it’s weight and strength. Those who prefer lighter rings often opt for titanium or stainless steel rings.
Tungsten carbide is considered safe to wear since it is extremely unlikely to cause allergic reactions when worn. Very small amounts of nickel are used as a binder which are well within safe limits. As an alternative, cobalt may be used as a binder by other jewellers and may cause allergies, and are therefore never used in our rings.
Tungsten is rated as a 9 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness, with diamond being a 10 and the only element that can scratch tungsten. In other words, it is incredibly difficult to scratch tungsten carbide rings!
Corrosion and rust resistance
Tungsten carbide rings are highly resistant to tarnishing and corrosion, and retains their lustre and shine for a very long time.
Compared to traditional silver and gold rings, tungsten carbide rings are much more affordable and are favoured by people on a budget but are also looking for a ring that will stand the test of time and also look great on their fingers.
Ease of maintenance
Tungsten carbide is very easy to look after – much easier than caring for a gold or silver ring which will lose its lustre in just a few months and requires repolishing.
Flexibility and Style
Other materials such as titanium, steels, wood and even precious metals can be combined to create a plethora of different styles for every ring enthusiast. In addition, different colours can be applied to rings using a process called ion plating if required. Below are just a few examples of the different design styles for tungsten carbide that we offer.
Things to consider
Since tungsten carbide rings are very tough, they are also very difficult to resize. Fortunately, The Ring Shop offers resizing options of all our rings through our Resize Service.
Contrary to common belief, tungsten carbide rings can be removed in emergency situations using regular jewellery removal tools. While tungsten carbide rings are incredibly tough, they can be “cracked” off rather than cut or sawn, which essentially means applying enough pressure to the ring until it cracks apart.
While tungsten is an extremely hard metal, it is also brittle which means it can crack apart when enough force is applied to it. It is worth bearing in mind however that substantially less force is required to dent gold and silver rings out of shape. At the Ring Shop, we ensure the use of higher grade Tungsten Carbide composites to minimise the brittle properties of the element.