When you decide to marry, one of the most important decisions will be about your ring. Traditionally, gold, white gold, silver and platinum have been used in wedding bands. But today, the selection of metals is broader, reflecting the change in our tastes and lifestyle. Tungsten carbide is one of the new metals from which jewelry designers have begun to craft wedding band rings, offering a wide variety of styles and designs that fit every taste and budget.
What is Tungsten Carbide?
On its own, tungsten is a very hard and dense metal, with the highest melting point of all metals – 6,100 degrees Fahrenheit. Alone, tungsten is vulnerable to scratches and damage just like any other metal, it gains its extreme hardness by being combined with a carbon alloy, transforming it into tungsten carbide, with a hardness between 8.5 and 9.5 on the Mohs hardness scale. The strength of tungsten carbide has made it widely used for decades in industrial applications – it is four times harder than titanium, twice as hard as steel and almost impossible to scratch. The resulting metal can be designed into wedding band rings that are both visually stunning to please the eye and durable enough to withstand everyday use. These rings can only be damaged through extreme measures, such as abrasion from diamonds or being struck with a hammer.
Choosing Your Tungsten Carbide Wedding Band Ring
Make sure you ask your jeweler which metal was used in the finishing or binding process. Many manufacturers of tungsten carbide wedding band rings use cobalt as a binder, mostly because it is cheaper to produce. The problem with cobalt is that it bonds with oils in the skin and leeches out of the ring resulting in oxidation. The oxidation appears similar to tarnished sliver, but cannot be removed by polishing or grinding. The better choice is nickel-binder tungsten carbide which is chemically inert, will not oxidize and because it is hypoallergenic, there is no danger of irritation to the skin. Be careful about dealing with a jeweler that doesn’t specify that their tungsten wedding bands are made with the nickel binder alloy. Many jewelry stores do not know which alloy they are selling, and if they don’t know, it is most likely cobalt alloy or pure tungsten, which lacks the hardness of tungsten carbide and are easily scratched.
Because of tungsten carbide’s extreme hardness, wedding bands made from this metal cannot be sized like gold, silver or platinum rings. When you are ready to purchase, make sure that you take extra care in determining the proper size. In regards to engraving a tungsten carbide ring, it is possible, but the results will be very faint and difficult to read.
Finally, since your tungsten carbide wedding band ring is not indestructible, it makes sense to get a warranty, especially against breakage. Under normal usage there should be little or no wear on both the polish and the textures of your tungsten carbide wedding band ring and you will never need to use your warranty.
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