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Do Tungsten Rings Tarnish?

Do Tungsten Rings Tarnish?

In America, more than two million people get married each year. Marriage drives the sale of many rings, including both engagement rings and wedding bands. Many turn to tungsten wedding bands for their durability and price.

If you and your partner choose tungsten rings when planning your wedding, you may want to know about how the metal's properties affect its care. Do you need to take special care with your engagement band?

Treating a ring right shows you care about the person whose bond it symbolizes. Keep reading and we'll tell you all about how to care for tungsten rings.

Do Tungsten Rings Tarnish?

Many jewelers tout tungsten as a great material for tarnish-resistant rings, and that holds up with jewelry-grade tungsten. Jewelry-grade tungsten will not tarnish under the conditions in which people wear most rings. It also carries a lower price point than gold or platinum, making it popular for weddings on a budget.

Your jeweler may have used industrial-grade tungsten instead, which can cause tungsten to tarnish. Tungsten ring durability depends on the binder used. The binder, another metal added to the tungsten, affects the chemical properties of the final ring.

Why Jewelers Don't Use Pure Tungsten

Some wonder why jewelers don't skip the binder if tungsten itself won't rust, corrode, or tarnish. Tungsten's high durability comes at a cost in other properties. Pure tungsten remains brittle at room temperature, so a ring using only tungsten or tungsten carbide would fall apart under low stress.

Jewelers add another material to change that. Industrial tungsten products like drill bits do the same thing, but the needs of the different materials lead to different additives.

Why Your Ring Tarnished

If you've come here looking for help with tarnished tungsten ring care, your ring may use a non-nickel binder like cobalt or iron. Cobalt tungsten alloys work well in applications where coloration plays no role, such as tools. Some hunters use tungsten shotshell pellets that use iron or bismuth as a binder.

If your tungsten ring becomes tarnished, blame the other metal involved. The other metal will tarnish on contact with the oil in your hands, which can lead to an irregular, dark appearance that no amount of polishing removes. The oil becomes part of the ring.

Avoiding Tungsten Tarnish

Avoiding the appearance of tarnished tungsten starts when you shop. If you see a ring you like, ask the seller about what binder the ring uses. If you hear any answer but nickel, skip the purchase.

Look at the price tag when you buy. A ring that looks too cheap for its design and material may have used another binder instead of nickel even if the seller says otherwise.

My Ring Tarnished Anyway

Tungsten rings become discolored under some circumstances, even if they don't tarnish. This discoloration comes from chemical reactions. The oil on your hands won't cause problems, but certain cleaners or automotive products can.

Avoid exposing your ring to bleach, ammonia, or chlorine. If the ring comes into contact with harsh chemicals, wash it well in water with a small amount of hand soap or mild dish soap.

Tungsten Ring Care

Even though jewelry-grade tungsten won't tarnish, you still need to perform tungsten jewelry maintenance to keep it looking great. The oils on your hands won't bond with jewelry-grade tungsten, but they can still help dirt adhere to it. Lack of care can give the ring a dirty or oily appearance, so you'll need to know how to clean tungsten even if your tungsten-nickel alloy won't tarnish.

Plain Tungsten Bands

If your ring looks grungy, soak it in a mixture of water, a tablespoon of vinegar, and a few drops of mild dish soap. This solution will loosen the dirt and oil attached to the ring. From there, a soft microfiber cloth can take care of the rest.


If your tungsten ring has any gems, those will require a special care approach. Some gems respond well to a toothbrush and dish soap, while others require professional attention. You should know your ring inside and out before cleaning a gem.

Other Metals

If your tungsten ring bears a color other than a gunmetal silver-grey, it may have plating of another material. In this case, you'll want to refer to guides on how to clean these types of jewelry.

When to Take a Tungsten Ring Off

Many people want to wear their wedding bands in the shower. Tungsten doesn't react to water, so you can wear it there if you desire.

If you want to go swimming, though, take it off. Most pools have chlorine, which this article already mentioned can cause damage. Salty seawater could also affect the appearance of your ring.

Tungsten Ring Breakage Risks

The paradox of tungsten care comes from its tendency to break. While alloying it with nickel reduces its brittleness, a tungsten ring can shatter if someone applies enough pressure. If you're prone to slipping and hitting your fingers when working around the house with a hammer, consider taking tungsten wedding bands off before doing any work.

If you drop tungsten rings into an area where you need to fish them out with a tool, avoid using something that applies a lot of gripping force, such as pliers or a vice grip. While you'd have to apply some force to break a tungsten ring, you need less force than expected.

This property can help you mitigate an emergency with a broken or swollen finger. While you'd have to break the ring, getting it off involves less risk than with a gold or silver wedding band, which often requires a ring cutter.

Built to Last

Tungsten rings have earned popularity for their durability and resistance to corrosion. A hypoallergenic tungsten ring can go almost anywhere with you and could even outlive you if you take proper care of it.

If you've entered the market for a stylish ring or band, look to us at Larson Jewelers. We take pride in innovating countless styles for men's wedding bands. Look through our product lines, and contact us with any questions about our offerings.

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