Titanium and tungsten carbide (also sometimes just referred to as tungsten) are two of the most popular contemporary materials currently available on the men’s jewelry market. While surface appearances may lead some shoppers to believe that they are similar in nature, in reality the two materials are quite different. Here are some of the key points to consider when choosing between titanium and tungsten rings.
Titanium Vs Tungsten
- Price – Titanium and tungsten carbide are both very affordable alternatives to pricy precious metals and are fairly comparable in price. For both materials prices can vary based on style, manufacturer and quality of the material.
- Composition – Titanium is a metal that is slightly alloyed with other elements for use in jewelry, usually aluminum and vanadium (depending on the grade). The most commonly used grades for titanium jewelry (aircraft, extra-hard and commercial pure) are at least 85% pure titanium. Tungsten carbide is a compound made from the rare metal tungsten and an equal number of carbon atoms.
- Hardness - Both titanium and tungsten carbide are considerably harder than precious metals like gold and platinum. However, tungsten carbide is one of the hardest materials in existence and substantially harder than titanium, registering a 9 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness (compared to titanium’s score of 6).
- Scratch-resistance – Due to its hardness tungsten carbide handily beats titanium when it comes to scratch-resistance, though titanium is still considerably more scratch-resistant than other popular materials. There are virtually no materials other than a diamond that can scratch tungsten carbide.
- Crack-resistance – Titanium is much more crack-resistant than naturally brittle tungsten carbide. Tungsten carbide’s extreme hardness paired with its brittleness means that tungsten carbide rings can crack or shatter if struck against a hard enough surface. While some higher grade tungsten carbide bands demonstrate decreased brittleness, as a general rule titanium rings are still a better fit for men who work a lot with their hands.
- Weight – Titanium and tungsten carbide rings are practically at opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to how they feel on the finger. Despite their durability, titanium rings are extremely lightweight, and are perfect for the more jewelry-phobic. On the other hand, tungsten carbide rings are quite dense and heavy, and have a pleasantly weighty feel on the finger.
- Color – Both titanium and tungsten rings have a handsome natural gunmetal grey color, and can also be seen in popular black versions. White tungsten is also an option for tungsten carbide rings, which offers a more “classic” appearance that resembles white gold or platinum.
- Hypoallergenic properties – Most titanium rings are hypoallergenic and appropriate for those with skin allergies, while most tungsten carbide rings are not. This is generally because many tungsten carbide rings employ the element cobalt, which can be an allergen for some skin types.
- Emergency removal – A common myth for both titanium and tungsten carbide rings is that they cannot be removed in case of emergency. Both types of rings can certainly be removed in emergency situations, though the methodology for removal will vary – titanium rings will need to be cut through using something like a jeweler’s saw, while tungsten carbide rings will have to be cracked using vice grip pliers.
- Resizing – Because of their strength, as a general rule neither titanium nor tungsten carbide rings can be resized. However, both materials are inexpensive enough that simply replacing them is a viable option.