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The Element Tungsten

So, I talk a lot about tungsten and titanium in terms of jewelry, it's easy; they look awesome, they're different, and they have tons of different application; but every once in a while to stop and take a step back – I'm also a big fan of How It's Made – so, that's what sparked the idea for my latest post; understanding a small bit of the science behind tungsten. Remember, I'm not a scientist, so please bear with me a bit, as I'm learning, too.

Tungsten was discovered by chemists in 1783 and has always been a very valuable metal, especially because of its strength and durability, making it extremely useful in industrial and military areas – and now, in jewelry. This metallic chemical element is classified as a transition metal on the periodic table, meaning it is very common in several industrial applications. Austria, China, Portugal and Russia are the major extractor's of the element and have carved out a nice little niche within the global market.

Tungsten as an element

I've found that it's very cool to know the materials you where, and that many laymen don't, in fact, know the science behind what they wear. Here are a couple facts that I've found that you might be interested in as you get to know tungsten as a metal and jewelry component:

  • When isolated, the metal is a whitish-gray metal that is resistant to corrosion. It's also important to note that tungsten doesn't always have the strong properties that we focus in; when contaminated, the metal is very fragile/brittle and difficult to work with.
  • Out of all the metals known to man, it has the highest melting point and the lowest vapor pressure point on Earth.
  • The atomic number is 74 and its symbol on the periodic table is "W," which stands for the metal's alternate name, wolfram.

Beyond jewelry, tungsten has many elemental uses, including:

  • The metal is used for a lot of things, one of which is the filament in light bulbs. It is also used with an array of alloys in order to increase their tensile strength and hardness.
  • Many companies will use it because of its extremely high melting point along with the ability to produce wear-resistant tools. Even though these types of tools are usually expensive, workers tend to prefer them because of the durability they provide.

For more information on science behind the metal, I've found these links to be helpful:

A Jeweler's Approach to Tungsten

One of the most important things that I first saw in a ring is the attractiveness it could bring – yes, I know, it sounds shallow, but I dare you to argue that these are not aesthetically great pieces. That was the main reason I wanted to get into this business; with so many metals to choose from, it's hard to know where to set your priorities; but it is the tungsten carbide rings that are considered show stoppers, mainly because of their constant shine. Unlike other metals, like platinum, silver, and gold, tungsten retains its luster, without having to polish it regularly. While scratches, dings and scuffs can eventually prevent other types of jewelry from being as perfect as the day you bought it, tungsten rings for men will continue to shine as though you brought it home today. They can come in various shades, from a brushed smoky gray, to a reflective glossy metal, to a gleaming black. You can even have your tungsten carbide rings engraved to show off that personal touch.

Even if all the above wasn't enough, the durability and "wearability" of tungsten rings for men far exceeds that of gold, silver, and platinum. I constantly tell my customers that the look of their ring is important, but it's the usefulness behind the ring that sets it apart. A beautiful ring is no good if it's just sitting in your jewelry box or on your nightstand. Tungsten is more durable than any other jewelry metal known, making it perfect for men or women who use their hands a lot.

So, to Recap:

Tungsten rings are built for comfort, as well as their durability. They come in different shapes and sizes, from the light and small, to a very bold extra-wide shape. Even those who have allergies to certain metals can benefit from wearing tungsten. Always remember to wear something you are happy with.

See you next time!