Tungsten is an unpopular jewelry metal choice compared to silver or gold jewelry. But this unpopular metal tops the list of hard jewelry metals due to its interesting properties.
If you’re a jewelry lover curious about tungsten and its use in jewelry, keep reading. We’ll share detailed info on tungsten as a jewelry metal, its pros and cons, and how to spot real tungsten jewelry.
We’ll also provide tips on cleaning your tungsten jewelry. You’ll learn all about using tungsten jewelry, just in case you decide to go for it.
What is tungsten?
Tungsten, also known as Wolfram, is a very hard metal with the atomic number 74. It was discovered in 1783 by Juan Jose and Fausto Elhuyar, two chemists who heated samples of wolframite (a chemical that existed earlier) with carbon, forming the tungsten metal.
The name “tungsten” has a Swedish origin, and it means heavy stone. This name alludes to its remarkably heavyweight nature. It has a density of 19.25 grams per cubic centimeter, making it one of the heaviest metals on earth.
Tungsten has very high melting and boiling points of 6177°F (3414°C) and 10031°F (5555°C) respectively, making it nearly impossible to melt. It also has a very high tensile strength, meaning it can withstand a lot of wear and tear and heat without breaking.
Tungsten has a silvery white to steel gray color.
What is tungsten carbide?
Tungsten carbide is a tungsten and carbon alloy; made by mixing equal amounts of tungsten and carbon. This alloy is usually powdery, so nickel or cobalt are added as binders to make it usable for jewelry.
While pure tungsten metal is too hard to shape into jewelry, tungsten carbide is more malleable and favorable for making tungsten jewelry pieces. Like pure tungsten, tungsten carbide is highly scratch-resistant, durable, and tough.
Where is tungsten found?
Tungsten does not exist naturally on its own, but it’s derived from its ores, wolframite, and scheelite. Tungsten ores exist naturally in China, Vietnam, Russia, and Bolivia. However, China produces most of the tungsten used today.
How strong is tungsten?
Tungsten is outstandingly strong. It has incredibly high tensile strength, even stronger than steel and titanium, two metals popularly known for their high strength.
Is tungsten good for jewelry?
Tungsten is excellent for jewelry. It is scratch resistant and highly durable. In addition, it comes super shiny and maintains that high shine for a long time.
On top of it all, tungsten is affordable. So if you want durable jewelry that costs less than gold or platinum, tungsten is one of the best options.
What color is tungsten?
Tungsten naturally has a gray color, similar to that of steel. However, it can also be silvery white. Jewelers can make tungsten black by plating it with titanium zirconium.
How expensive is tungsten?
Tungsten is not expensive. It is currently worth only $3.25 per pound. Considering how durable it is, tungsten is an affordable metal.
Pros and Cons of Tungsten Jewelry
Although it has such interesting properties, tungsten jewelry is not all good without the bad. We’ve checked out both sides and highlighted the pros and cons of using tungsten jewelry.
Here are the pros:
- Durable: Because of its high hardness, tungsten jewelry is durable and will not scratch easily.
- Shiny look: Tungsten jewelry maintains a lustrous look for a long time. You can expect it to keep looking as good as new even after years of purchase.
- Hypoallergenic: It’s a safe metal for people with sensitive skin.
- Budget-friendly: Tungsten jewelry is affordable compared to other hard metals like platinum and titanium. If you’re on a low budget and want to choose an engagement ring that’s durable, tungsten is a great option.
- Unique color: Tungsten jewelry often comes in a unique, metallic color that many people love. It comes in steel-gray, silver-white, or black.
Here are the downsides of using tungsten jewelry:
- Breaks easily: Tungsten jewelry is very hard, so it’s likely to break when a hard physical force hits.
- Not resizable: Because of their hardness, tungsten rings cannot be resized when they do not fit perfectly.
- Heavy: Tungsten jewelry is usually heavy because of the metal’s high density, and some people don’t like heavy jewelry.
How to Identify Real Tungsten
Thanks to its unique properties, it is pretty easy to identify real tungsten jewelry. Once you know the key properties, you’ll find it easier to spot genuine tungsten.
Here are specific properties to look out for when shopping for authentic tungsten jewelry:
- Scratch resistance: Real tungsten jewelry will not get scratched easily. If you scratch the piece with a blade or scissors and there are visible marks, it’s not real tungsten.
- Top-notch shine: Examine the supposed tungsten jewelry. If it shines brightly, that’s a sign that it’s likely genuine.
- High density: Feel the weight of the jewelry. Authentic tungsten jewelry is usually heavier than other jewelry pieces.
- Longevity: Over time, you can tell if a piece of jewelry is real tungsten or not. Real tungsten jewelry will not lose its shine or tarnish easily, even after many years.
How to Clean Tungsten Jewelry
Even though your tungsten jewelry will maintain its shiny look for a long time, it’s good to clean it once in a while to get rid of oil or product buildup. Cleaning your tungsten jewelry is easy, and you don’t need any special equipment or skill.
- A bowl of warm water
- Mild dish soap
- A soft-bristled toothbrush
- Add a few drops of dish soap to the warm water and make a lather.
- Place your tungsten jewelry in the bowl for a minute or two.
- Gently rub the soapy water into your jewelry with the soft-bristled toothbrush to remove any buildup. Pay attention to intricate areas.
- Rinse your jewelry with clean water and dry it with a piece of cloth.
💡 Warning: Avoid using bleach or cleaners that contain harsh chemicals like chlorine or ammonia to clean your tungsten jewelry. Although tungsten is hard, harsh chemicals will damage its finish and ruin your jewelry’s look.
FAQs About Tungsten Metal and Jewelry
Jewelry lovers usually have a few questions about tungsten. We’ve provided expert answers to those questions so we don’t leave you wondering.
Does tungsten jewelry turn skin green?
It depends. If your tungsten jewelry contains cobalt as a binder, it will likely turn your skin green but this won’t harm your skin.
If you want to avoid this discoloration, opt for tungsten jewelry that contains nickel as a binder instead of cobalt. However, it’s usually more expensive.
You can confirm what your tungsten piece contains by checking the manufacturer’s details.
Is tungsten a good metal for a ring?
Yes, it is. It’s highly durable, scratch and tarnish-resistant, and even hypoallergenic. If you want a ring you’ll use for many years, like an engagement ring or wedding ring, tungsten rings are a nice and economical choice.
Does tungsten jewelry tarnish?
Tungsten jewelry does not tarnish as long as it contains nickel as a binder. However, when it contains cobalt, oxidation may occur and cause the jewelry to tarnish.
Can I wear my tungsten ring in the shower?
It’s okay to wear your tungsten ring in the shower. But if your water contains chemical contaminants like chlorine, it may damage your tungsten ring, so it’s best to take it off before showering.
Is tungsten jewelry valuable?
Tungsten isn’t as valuable as “precious metals” like gold, silver, or rhodium. It’s low-priced, so it’s considered cheap. However, it is one of the best metals for jewelry.
Where to Buy Tungsten Jewelry
You’ll get quality tungsten jewelry at Larsonjewelers. They also offer to customize your tungsten jewelry if you like.
If you’re shopping exclusively for rings, you’ll find a wide variety of lovely tungsten rings at Tungsten Rings & Co.
Hard, Durable, and Affordable
Having a piece of jewelry made out of one of the hardest existing metals comes with many benefits. You don’t have to worry about your tungsten jewelry getting scratched easily, bending out of shape, or losing its shine.
Although tungsten is not considered a precious jewelry metal like silver or gold, it’s a metal that will serve you well for a long time and at a low cost!
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