THE TRUTH ABOUT TUNGSTEN

There is plenty of interest in tungsten lately - especially from guys searching for wedding bands. Tungsten bands can be a wise choice given their extreme durability and affordability.

Tungsten rings are actually made of tungsten carbide, an alloy composed of tungsten and carbon. Commonly referred to as simply 'tungsten', this material has a Mohs hardness of 9 (like a sapphire) and is therefore extremely scratch-resistant. In theory, it can only scratched by sapphires or diamonds (Mohs' of 10). By comparison, pure silver and gold have a Mohs hardness of 2.5 while platinum ranks at 4.5.

This means that tungsten bands retain their polish much better than those made in silver, gold and platinum.  They also do not distort or and are almost impossible to break. What is better than jewellery that does not show its wear regardless of our active lifestyle?

Another non-visual quality is tungsten's heft. With a density closer to that of gold, tungsten rings feel more substantial than titanium ones, another modern metal increasingly used in jewellery.

However, tungsten's hardness is also its downside: it cannot be cut apart with commonly available saws or pliers. In the event of an emergency, a special device with a diamond tip is required to crack (not cut) the band in half. One only hopes that hospitals  acquire this tool given the growing number of tungsten band wearers.

We recently acquired a tungsten breaker in case our clients require it. This is one tool I sincerely hope never to use.

Tungsten's natural gray colour lends itself to very sleek, modern and mostly masculine ring designs. Many feature combinations with gold and diamonds. Tungsten can be plated yielding silver, gold, bronze and black tones.

Unlike precious metals, tungsten is not used in the lost-wax casting process due to its high melting point. At 2876 C, tungsten's melting point is significantly higher than gold's (1065 C) and platinum (1768 C). This significantly limits the design options as most jewellery designs are carved into wax to be later cast. By contrast, tungsten bands are created in an industrial lathe.

We do not handcraft tungsten bands as we are not equipped with the necessary machinery. However, we are happy to source them from a variety of suppliers. Take a look at some of the most popular designs.

Is tungsten too good to be true?  You be the judge.

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