What are tungsten rings? Are they safe? Do they scratch easily? Why are they so popular? Why are they so inexpensive? Let Larson Jewelers educate you on tungsten rings, one of our specialties.
Tungsten is a hard metal with a high melting point. The term "tungsten" comes from a Swedish word meaning "heavy stone." In the jewelry market, it's combined with carbide to make rings and other visually appealing jewelry.
Tungsten rings are naturally light gray but can be altered to appear a wide variety of colors, from silver-gray or black to rose or white. In some cases, the colored coating on tungsten rings can wear off, but manufacturers like Larson Jewelers typically offer warranties that cover this wear and tear, and it can be recoated.
Tungsten rings are also the most scratch resistant of any of the metals, do not requiring polishing, have a nice weight to them and are typically more affordable than palladium or gold rings. What's more, they are hypoallergenic, making them good choices for people with allergies to gold and other metals. Note that most tungsten rings contain some nickel, but the nickel binds so well with the ring's other metals that it loses its ability to cause a reaction with skin.
Drawbacks of Tungsten Rings
Tungsten rings are very strong, which also means they cannot be resized if the wearer’s ring size changes. Still, they are not indestructible. Like a diamond, a tungsten ring will shatter if hit with enough force. Also, unlike gold, tungsten is not easily traded in or pawned for money. It's not in as much demand.
What's great about engravings on tungsten rings is that the engraving does not wear off over time, making it a truly timeless gift.
Mokume Gane Tungsten Rings
This unique metal-working technique originated in Japan during the middle ages and involves pounding different pieces of metal together rather than forging one piece of metal. Discovered in making Samurai swords, the technique results in a layered look that resembles wood grain. In jewelry-making, the technique brings together different metals. It's very common in tungsten rings.
Tungsten rings are relatively easy to care for. They do not require polishing and do not scratch. However, you may notice a buildup of dirt. In this case, all you need is a little warm water and some mild dish soap. Simply soak the ring in a solution with warm water and a few drops of soap for about 15 minutes, and dry it with a towel. If there's still dirt after that, you can try using a toothbrush to gently scrub off any remaining residue.
The only other caution is to remove tungsten rings when using harsh chemicals like chlorine or other cleaning products, just as you would any other type of ring.
Myths About Tungsten Rings
Tungsten carbide rings are very strong, but, contrary to a myth that's going around, they are not likely to injure or cut off a finger in an accident. On the contrary, since they are strong, they're easier to slip off of a finger in an accident than a metal like gold, which might bend and injure the finger. If the ring is damaged, it's more likely to shatter than bend and form to the finger.
In an emergency, most rings can be cut off. In the case of tungsten, it's easier to crack the ring off using locking pliers. This is easier than it sounds and takes about 30 seconds to complete, but it is something to keep in mind when considering ring choices.
Finally, tungsten rings are often seen as "just for men," but there is a variety of stylish women's bands available with unique finishes and feminine designs. Check out these charming rings from Larson Jewelers: