Saturday, February 15, 2014

Tungsten Ring Problems

Tungsten Ring Problem
The woman behind the sales counter of the fancy jewelry store told us that if I was ever in an accident, the ring could not be cut off of my hand, and the finger would have to go instead; it was just that strong.  Additionally, the ring looked superior to anything else under the display. Noted. At least I was getting a ring I could not break. I was wrong. 

While at the movies, I caught my tungsten ring on the back of a chair. Off of my finger and onto the floor it went. At first I could not find the ring. Then I found half of the ring. This was a problem.
Maybe this is a familiar story? Lots of people who fell victim to half truths are left with exactly what we are, a $300 paper weight. To pour salt into our open wound, there is no warranty.  A little internet research and we discovered the accident-cut-off-theory to be a myth as well.

The following article was provided by our guest blogger Cliff. Pictures by us.

Wedding rings, one of the most recognized symbols of marriage, have historically been made from a variety of materials including gold, silver, titanium, and recently tungsten carbide. With the sale of tungsten rings rising over the last decade it raises the question, why are so many people opting for tungsten carbide over traditional metals? Marketers promote tungsten rings as being extremely durable. Manufacturers claim that their hardness makes them more scratch resistant than rings made of traditional metals. Tungsten rings also sport a more modern look that many people prefer to gold or silver. With the increased popularity of tungsten carbide rings there have also been reports of tungsten ring problems. These problems include cracking, breaking, and difficulty resizing. The source of these problems stems from the same properties that make tungsten carbide rings alluring in the first place; their durability and hardness.

To better understand tungsten ring problems one needs to know a bit about tungsten and tungsten carbide. Tungsten is an elemental metal used to forge strong composite materials such as tungsten carbide. It was first discovered in the late 1700s but has only recently become popular in the manufacture of jewelry. It is important to note that tungsten alone is not used to make rings; the composite tungsten carbide is. Manufacturers use tungsten, carbon, and cobalt or nickel to make tungsten carbide. This makes it extremely hard and scratch resistant. It is this hardness that makes tungsten carbide so popular but is also the source of most tungsten ring problems.

Take a look at this YouTube video about myths surrounding tungsten rings.

Precious metals such as gold and silver are flexible materials. Tungsten carbide, being a composite material, is not a true metal. The tradeoff for the hardness and scratch resistance of tungsten carbide is a lack of flexibility. This creates one of the biggest tungsten ring problems. While a gold or silver ring is more prone to bending or scratching than a tungsten carbide ring, it also means that they will not crack or break easily. A shock or drop that may do nothing to a gold ring could break a tungsten carbide ring. If a person lives in a cold environment the chances that a tungsten carbide ring will crack or break increases. Anyone who has experienced a cold winter knows that cold weather makes everything more brittle. Tungsten carbide rings are no exception. Marketers of tungsten carbide rings tend to ignore that the hardness of the material makes it more brittle.
Broken Tungsten Ring
The extreme hardness of tungsten carbide presents yet another one of the major tungsten ring problems. It's impossible to resize a tungsten ring. If a person were to try to resize one it would break. This is problematic because people's fingers change size throughout their life. A person who purchases a tungsten ring today would likely have to buy a new one in the future.
Yes, tungsten rings are more affordable initially than rings made of precious metals but may end up costing more in the long run compared to a gold or silver ring that is easily resized. In addition, rings that are too small can actually create a health hazard. Faced with having to buy a new ring a person may decide to continue wearing a tungsten ring that is too small. They may not realize they are damaging the circulation in their finger before permanent damage has occurred.

Marketers would have a person believe tungsten carbide is indestructible while ignoring tungsten ring problems. Tungsten carbide rings do present a durable and scratch resistant option but they do come with drawbacks. When dropped they can easily crack or break, they cannot be resized, and are difficult to remove if stuck on a finger. Faced with having to buy a new ring when one breaks or needs resizing, tungsten rings may end up costing a person more than a ring made of a precious metal such as gold or silver.

Have a ring story?  Share it with us below!


  1. Adopted as The Wonder Metal by practically the entire jewelry industry years ago, the price range for tungsten wedding rings has dropped dramatically throughout the years. Retail jewelry stores want rings that are much less expensive than gold, platinum or even palladium. But how can they make a profit selling rings that have to be priced at around $100? You can also get a tungsten ring from Amazon for about $29.99.

    Tungsten can break. Here is a recent article about this issue -

  2. Well my ring just broke. I was having problems with it slipping off. I needed a different size but didn't want to send the ring in and get a different one back as this is the ring I got married with. I was intending to buy another to wear on my finger and keep the original on a chain on my neck. Now it is cracked :(

  3. I bought my tungsten ring a little over three years ago. I am a heating and air conditioning service tech and this job is very physically demanding and my advice to you is if you have jewlery you dont want damaged while doing this job then DON'T wear it. Well i have worn my ring every single day at work and its not even blemished. My ring came with a lifetime replacement and sizing warranty. Yeah when I do need it resized it does suck that I cant wear the actual ring on my finger but when that comes I will wear it on a necklace. As far as me loosing my finger before the ring, well I take no chances. I frequently check how easily the ring will come off. I really like my ring.

  4. As an engineer, I can say that you will get what you pay for. If you are paying anything less than $120 for a standard wedding band, then you are getting a piece of metal with imperfections. Tungsten, like steel, should go through a non destructive test phase to see flaws in craftsmanship. Properly manufactored tungsten, that is free from flaws will not break by merely dropping it on the floor. It would take the impact of a head collision by two semi-trucks hauling 20 tons of materials, traveling at a constant speed of 89.3 mph to break tungsten carbide. That is why the material is used to machine metal, but the metal must be crafted to near perfection.