Tungsten and titanium are alternative or non-precious metals. However, they are now increasing in popularity – especially as wedding bands. They are affordable and present a unique choice for the unconventional couple.
Are you unsure which one of these metals will be the best choice for you? In this article, we’ll look at tungsten vs titanium, highlighting the differences and making it easier for you to choose.
What is tungsten?
Tungsten, also called wolfram, is one of the toughest materials occuring in nature. It is a silvery gray metal that may also appear white in some instances. It occurs in many alloys, including tungsten carbide, used to make jewelry.
What is titanium?
Titanium is a silvery gray metal found abundant in the earth. It is one of the most useful metals in the world.
Because of its hypoallergenicity, durability, and low density, it is a prime choice for making jewelry (typically wedding bands and piercing jewelry), sporting equipment, surgical tools, and aircraft.
What is the difference between tungsten vs titanium?
Although tungsten and titanium share similarities, like the same silvery gray color, they have many differences.
Tungsten used for jewelry is typically combined with carbon, nickel, and cobalt. The alloy is called tungsten carbide. It is a combination of tungsten and carbon.
In most cases, nickel, not cobalt, is used as a binder but only in small quantities, where it makes up 15% of the final metal.
Titanium is combined with vanadium and aluminum to make titanium jewelry. The resulting alloy usually contains up to 70 – 90% titanium.
The weight of jewelry is generally synonymous with its value in people’s minds. As such, lightweight jewelry is seen as cheap or imitations of those made with valuable metal.
Tungsten has a density of 19.3g/cm3. It is heavy metal and has a solid feel.
However, titanium is well-known for its lightweight characteristic. It has a density of 4.5g/cm3. It is often called featherweight.
💡 Did You Know? Titanium’s lightweight quality is one of the reasons why manufacturers use it to build aircraft.
Tungsten is the hardest metal used for making wedding bands. It has a rating of 8 to 9 on the Moh scale, coming only a point behind diamonds. This makes it highly scratch-resistant and less likely to tarnish.
Titanium has a rating of 6 on the Moh scale, making it a more scratch-resistant metal than most precious metals. It will hold up to everyday wear and does not need constant maintenance. However, it is not as strong as tungsten.
Since tungsten is so hard, it is also brittle, so if it drops, there’s a high chance it will break. That is not the same case with titanium which can withstand the force of falling. However, it can warp under certain pressure since titanium is malleable.
Tungsten carbide, the metal alloy used for making tungsten jewelry, is usually bound with nickel in small quantities, so it is hypoallergenic. However, if the binding material is cobalt, it will cause an allergic reaction for people with sensitive skin.
💡 Sensitive Skin? Always confirm with your jeweler if your tungsten jewelry contains cobalt.
Since titanium does not contain nickel or cobalt, it is considered hypoallergenic. In its pure form, it is biocompatible and will not cause an allergic reaction.
It is common to see people engrave their jewelry, especially wedding bands. Jewelers can engrave on both metals, but they require different methods.
Due to the hardness of tungsten, jewelers cannot engrave it using the traditional method, so they use a laser.
Titanium is usually engraved the conventional way, where the message is carved directly on the ring by removing small metal particles.
Although the traditional method is possible with titanium, customers usually prefer a laser engraving on their ring since it has a smooth finish, making it easier to clean without having to remove dirt lodged in the carved spaces.
Tungsten rings cannot be resized because of how brittle they are, and once they have been formed, they will not bond with additional material.
Typically jewelers offer a lifetime warranty for tungsten rings, so instead of resizing, you can exchange your ring.
On the other hand, titanium can be resized, but not to the same extent as you can resize other metals. It is also a difficult process, so most jewelers do not offer the service but provide a lifetime warranty.
Tungsten vs Titanium Compared
We’ve highlighted the key differences between tungsten and titanium, but here’s a side-by-side view for easier comparison.
|Composition||Tungsten and carbon with nickel or cobalt as binding material.||Titanium, vanadium, and aluminum|
|Durability||Rating of 8 – 9 on Moh’s scale but are brittle.||Rating of 6 on Moh’s scale.|
|Allergenicity||Usually hypoallergenic unless it contains cobalt.||Hypoallergenic|
|Engraving||Laser engraving||Traditional engraving|
|Resize||Cannot be resized||Can be resized|
FAQs About Tungsten vs Titanium
It’s likely you still have questions, so we’ve answered the most commonly asked questions concerning tungsten vs titanium.
Is tungsten stronger than titanium?
Tungsten is stronger than titanium. It has a rating of 8-9 on Moh’s scale, which is far higher than titanium’s 6 on the scale. However, due to the hardness of tungsten, it is more brittle.
Tungsten or Titanium: Which is more scratch resistant?
Tungsten is more scratch resistant than titanium. It has a Moh’s rating of 8-9, only behind diamond. This means that only materials as hard as diamond can scratch tungsten.
Tungsten or Titanium: Which is more likely to shatter?
Tungsten is more likely to shatter than titanium. The hardness of tungsten makes it very brittle.
What can damage tungsten rings?
You can scratch tungsten rings with a diamond since it is harder than it. If your ring drops, the force can make it break since it is brittle.
Also, although hard, you can still damage tungsten rings by exposing them to harsh chemicals such as chlorine, bleach, or ammonia.
Tungsten vs Titanium: Which is better for wedding bands?
In the end, the type of wedding ring you choose depends on your preference. While they may look the same and havee a similar price range, some of their other features can make all the difference.
If you take off your ring often or are prone to dropping things, a tungsten ring may not be your best bet since it is brittle. But if you like to feel the weight of your jewelry, a tungsten ring is a better choice.
If you prefer a wedding band that almost feels like you’re not wearing anything, you should pick a titanium wedding band.
Wear an Alternative Metal
Even though the debate on tungsten rings vs titanium rings is often focused on male wedding bands, women can also wear rings made of these metals.
You can wear matching tungsten or titanium wedding band as a couple or the woman can choose a similar wedding band in another metal.
These bands are usually affordable, long-lasting and different from the norm. They also require less maintenance than jewlery made with other metals. If you have metal sensitivities, they are also good choices for you.
Tungsten vs titanium will continue to be a topic for debate, but ultimately, it boils down to you and your specific needs.
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