One of the most popular and in-demand types of wedding rings today is the tungsten carbide wedding band. This is because of the great number of benefits found in them compared to wedding rings or bands made from platinum, gold and other precious metals.
A common misconception concerning these types of bands is that they cannot be removed in the course of emergency medical treatment, requiring the finger to be removed instead. This was one of the many reasons cited when asked why couples wouldn't want a Tungsten carbide wedding band as their choice of wedding ring. This myth subsided thanks to doctors and jewelry shops calling it just that—a myth.
In fact, they are much safer than bands made from other metals. They also do not bend, so in a critical moment, the band will break in many pieces without harming the finger it is on. In addition, medical institutions have equipment available to remove the band safely from the finger. Gold and other metals that bend can harm the finger when they change shape. Thus, tungsten bands are a much safer choice.
Pros and Cons of Tungsten Carbide Rings
- A tungsten ring will never bend. You can hammer it like crazy and it will always retain its shape.
- They never scratch. You can file away at it, and it will stay polished forever.
- It is heavier than most metals because of its density.
- You can't beat its shine and polish.
- It's hypoallergenic, so if you have any allergies, they won't happen with tungsten.
- The hardest form of tungsten carbide is harder than titanium alloys, and only under extreme circumstances can it be damaged.
- On your 2,000th anniversary, your wedding ring will look like new!
- A tungsten wedding band cannot be re-sized. So you need to find a reputable jeweler who will carry a lifetime warranty on their ring. If your ring size changes, you're stuck with the size you bought unless the jeweler will exchange the ring for you. So it is important to choose the comfort size of your band.
- There's a lot of cheap tungsten jewelry out there. Cheap tungsten is made with cobalt, which is used in lightbulb filaments. You want to find tungsten with a nickel alloy—slightly more expensive, but it won't corrode and turn your finger brown. Stick with a brand name; I'm sure you'll be fine.
FAQs About Tungsten
Can Tungsten Rings Be Re-Sized?
This is a very important question to answer unless, of course, you don't plan on ever losing or gaining weight for the rest of your life.
Titanium can be re-sized; however, it is a very difficult and more expensive process. Tungsten carbide, on the other hand, is impossible to re-size, as it is too hard of a metal. Therefore, choosing the proper ring size is very important.
A good idea is to get a ring sizer for an accurate measurement of your size. It is recommended that you take several measurements at different times and average out what size your finger is, as it will vary slightly for some people throughout the course of the day.
The best solution to this is to make sure that the jewelry store you buy the ring from has a lifetime ring size guaranty.
Toxicity in Alloys With Cobalt
The primary health risks associated with carbide relate to inhalation of dust, leading to fibrosis. Cobalt-Tungsten Carbide is also reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program.
How Hard Is It?
Tungsten carbide, also called cemented carbide, has become a popular material in the bridal jewelry industry due to its extreme hardness and high resistance to scratching. Unfortunately, this extreme hardness also means that it is very prone to shattering.
Tungsten is extremely hard and dense. Combined with carbon and other elements, it becomes tungsten carbide, which registers between 8.9 and 9.1 on the Mohs hardness scale. It's roughly ten times harder than 18k gold and four times harder than titanium and is equal to a natural sapphire's hardness. In addition to its design and high polish, part of its attraction to consumers is its technical nature.
Will It Ever Scratch?
Tungsten carbide can only be scratched or damaged by extreme measures, like abrasion from diamonds or corundum. Consequently, activities that would normally require the removal of conventional wedding bands for their protection can be performed without concern by the wearer
While extremely strong and scratch-resistant, it is a bit more brittle than traditional metals used in wedding bands.
Does It Need Frequent Polishing?
No! Tungsten carbide band is the only jewelry that can be permanently polished. This is another reason to buy a Tungsten carbide wedding band. In a couple of decades, your tungsten band will look the same as when you purchased it. Your band will never need re-polishing for as long as you own it.
Why Choose a Tungsten Wedding Band?
If you work with your hands a lot in your profession, you may often hit your wedding band and find a number of dents and scratches on your jewelry. There are a couple of ways to prevent this: either find another job (which is crazy in our current economy) or find a more durable material for your wedding band.
Thus, I strongly suggest you consider a Tungsten carbide wedding band. It is one of the most durable metals in the world and is considered a revolutionary breakthrough in jewelry technology. It is both dent- and scratch-resistant, and the most wear-resistant type of jewelry in the world. Tungsten carbide is 10 times as hard as 18kt gold, 5 times as hard as steel, and 4 times as hard as titanium.
How to Choose the Right Ring Size
When ordering a ring, the best way to determine the right size is to visit a jeweler to have your finger professionally measured. Due to the fact that tungsten carbide bands are made in comfort-fit design, you will have a try on comfort-fit rings when sizing to get the correct ring size. If you use the ring size of a band ring you currently own, you should pay attention to whether it is a comfort-fit band or not.
A comfort-fit band ring is curved on the inside so that less of the ring's surface is touching your finger. Therefore, for the same ring size, a comfort-fit band ring might feel larger than a straight-fit ring. If you currently own a non-comfort-fit wedding ring, the recommendation is to order a half size down when ordering a tungsten carbide ring.
© 2009 JoBlack11
Greg on October 06, 2017:
Hypoallergenic my foot! Bought a Tungsten Carbide wedding band and within a few days developed a terrible rash. Took it back to the jeweler who said it was because of my hand washing at work. No matter what I did, I couldn't stop the rash. So, I had to stop wearing my ring, which of course didn't go over well with my wife. Eventually we decided to try and experiment. We tried white gold and now for months no rash. I think that's pretty good proof.
shane on September 07, 2017:
Been going 10 yrs with my tungsten band (and 10 yrs in the military) and still have had no issues... ring looks like it did the day we bought it.
J R YATES from Modesto on March 03, 2017:
There are some false claims in this article.
1. "You can hammer it like crazy and it will always retain its shape."
TRUTH - Yes, if you hit it with a hammer it will not BEND. But, it can CRACK, CHIP and BREAK.
2. "It's hypoallergenic so if you have any allergies, it won't happen with tungsten."
TRUTH - Tungsten carbide rings have a binder in them to hold the powder together during the sintering process and this binder is NICKEL. So are you telling me that some people are NOT allergic to nickel? I don't think so.
3. "...it will stay polished forever. ... You can't beat its shine and polish."
TRUTH - Tungsten rings when exposed to certain chemicals can develop a very dark opaque color. This obviously takes away any shine they had. And jewelers can NOT repolish the tungsten ring back to original shine.
4. "On your 2,000th anniversary, your wedding ring will look like new!"
TRUTH - Doubt it. After many years of wearing it you will have most likely dropped it on a hard surface, such as a tile floor or concrete, and it will have cracked. Or if the guy is active and does mechanic work he will probably come in contact with chemicals which will PERMANENTLY discolor his ring.
I have sold several thousand tungsten rings. I've seen all these things happen.
Jim on January 30, 2017:
Tough metal, but brittle. I dropped mine on a tile floor and it chipped and cracked. I just googled and it is, apparently, not uncommon for a tungsten carbide ring to chip or break. Beware.
RubyHeart on September 02, 2015:
The article says,
"Cheap tungsten is made with cobalt which is used in light bulb filaments. You want to find tungsten with a nickel alloy."
But it also says,
"It's hypoallergenic so if you have any allergies, it won't happen with tungsten."
These two sentences are contradictory. The tungsten alone might be hypoallergenic, but once it is combined with nickel, the hypoallergenic quality goes out the window. The vast majority of people with metal sensitivities are allergic to nickel. I am one of them.
If the only two possible alloys are cobalt – a carcinogen – and nickel – an allergen – then it would seem a tungsten ring is not a good choice for me.
Joey on May 27, 2015:
They forgot to mention that tungsten is brittle, so if it drops it could break
Caleb on May 27, 2015:
Tungsten carbide rings are not dangerous. Just look at Wikipedia. http://tiny.cc/tungsten-carbide-rings - If your ring finger swells and you can't lube the ring off, it simply will crack off with proper tooling.
Matt on March 29, 2015:
The reason Tungsten carbide rings could be dangerous is because in most cases doctors would need to get a ring off is when you have edema and your finger is starting to swell out of control. In those cases it is important to be able to remove a finger.
Grumpster on August 04, 2014:
Lots of spelling and grammar mistakes in this article. Do a little proof reading.
JoBlack11 (author) on January 21, 2013:
I believe there are more pros of Tungsten bands than cons.