Although titanium and tungsten are two metals that look almost identical, there are some notable differences between the two.
Both are unique in their own way and have a lot to offer when it comes to making rings out of them.
Tungsten is 2-3 times harder than titanium. Despite rating lower on the Mohs mineral hardness scale than tungsten, titanium actually is more crack-resistant and therefore a better ring metal for people who work with their hands often. Titanium is also known to be more lightweight.
There are other things that distinguish the two, but despite these differences, both are still desirable materials for wedding bands.
In the following article, we will discuss the viability of using both of these metals to craft rings.
Differences Between Tungsten and Titanium
Fortunately enough for buyers of tungsten and titanium, both are in good supply.
Titanium is notably more in supply than tungsten, due to it being the ninth most abundant element here on this earth.
Titanium primarily is found in Canada, Australia, and South Africa.
Trace amounts of this silver metal can be found in almost every rock, although the amount of it could range from a lot to very little.
The most common mineral that titanium can be found in is called ilmenite, and that is where 90% of it can be found.
The remaining 10% is found in other minerals like rutile, sphene, and anatase.
Rutile and ilmenite make up 24% of the earth’s crust. Source
The system for mining titanium is an intricate and expensive one.
Since titanium is most commonly found in ilmenite and rutile, these are its ores and these ores are found in deposits in rivers on their way to the sea.
These deposits are called shoreline placers.
The majority of titanium though is mined from intrusive crystalline rocks, unconsolidated sediments, and weathered rock.
The price of titanium is not based on its rarity, like gold, but instead on how hard it is to mine it. Source
Tungsten on the other hand is more likely to be found in China, Bolivia, and Russia.
In the United States though, California and Colorado are the main locations for tungsten mining.
Despite having all of these homes, tungsten makes its appearance most often in China.
It was discovered that China controls 80% of the world’s supply of this mineral.
Tungsten can be found in the minerals of scheelite and wolframite. There are other minerals that it can be found but these are more commonly quoted.
In contrast to the mining of titanium, tungsten is mined underground in long and narrow veins.
There are different methods for mining for tungsten, two of the more common ones being called “slashing out the ore” and “room-and-pillar”.
“Slashing out the ore” happens by drilling directly into the ore and taking out chunks.
“Room-and-pillar” involves drilling into the ore, creating rooms where they have taken out the ore but left pillars so that the rooms can be supported and protected from a cave-in.
There is also surface mining which is when the ore is close enough that going underground is not necessary. Source
What Makes Tungsten Unique
Tungsten, a Swedish term meaning “heavy stone”, came onto the world scene in 1783 when Spanish chemists and mineralogists Juan and Fausto Elhuyar discovered that by isolating an acidic white oxide from wolframite, then heating it with carbon, they could make the tungsten metal.
Although they were technically not the first to discover the new element, they are the ones who get the credit for it.
Tungsten is unique in that it’s nickname can often be cited as the Hard Metal.
Moh’s Hardness Scale is a test that geologists use to test the hardness of minerals.
Depending on how well a mineral resists being scratched by ten different minerals, this test can dictate just how hard your mineral is.
Talc is the softest reference mineral and diamond the hardest reference mineral.
Tungsten rates between an 8 or 9. A diamond is rated at a 10, making it the only substance on earth that can scratch this metal.
This makes tungsten extremely scratch-proof and seemingly indestructible, which makes it a great material for a long-lasting wedding band.
When choosing a tungsten ring, know that it can be polished with a diamond compound that gives them a shine that will last forever.
This material is incredibly durable, being 5 times harder than tool steel and four times harder than titanium.
The unfortunate thing is that the ring will shatter instead of bend if it’s put under too much pressure.
However, keep in mind that due to this object being so hardy, it will keep a tight hold on that shine and shape longer than any other ring on the market.
It is also important to note that in the event of an emergency, tungsten doesn’t bend, so a medical professional will have to remove the ring.
It’s also highly sought after instead of gold because tungsten is naturally hypoallergenic (while some people may have allergic reactions to gold).
Tungsten is additionally used in alloys to making cutting tools, as filaments in lightbulbs, drill bits, and the military uses this metal to make missiles and bullets.
Tungsten can withstand extreme heat up to 6,191.6 degrees Fahrenheit. This characteristic makes it extremely desirable.
Some cons to tungsten though include that it cannot be resized due to its hardiness, and therefore you must order the correct size.
You also will not be able to easily pawn off the ring due to it not being easily valued at a cash perspective.
All in all, it is the top-selling metal for men’s wedding bands in America. Source
Below is an awesome video that goes more into depth on how tungsten rings are created.
The process is very intricate and detailed, showcasing just how beautiful these rings can be.
What Makes Titanium Unique
A metal named after the Greek Gods, the Titans, sounds enticing enough. Such a name conveys indestructibility and power.
Well, titanium is pretty close to delivering on that promise.
This metal was discovered by Reverand William Gregor when he noticed some black, metallic sand in a creek bed.
Through observations, he found that it was a mixture of magnetite and a new type of metal. That was in 1791.
Due to it being discovered by Gregor, this metal was originally called gregorite.
When in 1793 it was once again discovered by chemist M.H. Klaproth, it was then renamed titanium.
Not until the 1930s was it figured out how one could extract titanium at industrial levels.
Its most attractive feature is being lightweight while still being strong.
Titanium is found to be as strong as steel and beats out steel because it’s only 45% of steel’s weight.
For aluminum, it is twice as strong and 60% heavier.
This makes the element the best of both worlds; it has the strength of steel and the comparable weight of aluminum.
Being highly resistant to corrosion and being low on maintenance needs make it a very desirable material for a wedding band.
This metal rated at a 6 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. So, it is indeed a lot softer than tungsten, but to put it in perspective, gold is a 3 rating.
Being placed lower on the hardness scale does not mean that it isn’t durable.
It is still known to remain undamaged over time. In fact, it can often last just as long as tungsten.
Titanium also can withstand extreme heat, and its melting point is 3,034.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
Titanium is also hypoallergenic, like tungsten.
Something that puts them a little ahead of tungsten is that titanium, when struck hard does not shatter, therefore making this metal a more desirable metal for men who work with their hands more.
Take note that titanium rings cannot be resized because it is difficult to solder the metal, so ordering the correct size is imperative.
Additionally, the metal has a matte finish meaning that it will not shine as much as tungsten. Source
The process to make titanium rings is very mesmerizing to watch and helps one to better understand just how detailed such a ring can get.
Titanium rings are beautiful and worth every penny, watching the process just helps you to appreciate every penny that you spend on it!
Cost Differences Between Tungsten and Titanium Rings
Titanium metal, right now, is being sold at $0.35 per pound.
The reason for its low cost is that this metal is the ninth most abundant metal on earth.
In other words, it is available virtually everywhere making it a cheap market. That doesn’t diminish its high quality though.
Meanwhile, tungsten materials are being sold at the current number of $3.25 per pound.
Tungsten is generally more expensive than titanium, but both are still highly affordable when compared to other precious metals used for rings. Source
A good quality tungsten wedding band can be priced anywhere over $50, but if you want a ring of good quality below $50, you are best off looking at titanium options.
Although a lot of people wonder at the large range of pricing for both rings.
Although you can find both for under $100, you can also find both options closer to $1000.
Why is this? What drives the price up, and what makes the metals worth more?
To get a cheap industrial grade (which is typically seen as poorer quality), you will want to look for tungsten rings made with cobalt.
Now if you are looking for jewelry grade which is of higher quality, then you will want tungsten rings made with nickel.
Cobalt is cheap and therefore is a good filler that ring factories use.
These lower-grade rings will tarnish, and potentially turn your skin a different color when your finger is in contact with the metal for a long time.
The tungsten and nickel combination will never tarnish though and will last over time.
Since tungsten must be an alloy and can’t make up a ring purely by itself for brittleness reasons, it has to be paired with something.
Always choose nickel for that partner if you want your ring to last.
As for titanium, this metal is divided into Grades 1-4. Grade 1 being the softest form of titanium and Grade 4 being the hardest.
The main difference between the grades is the amount of oxygen found in the mental. More oxygen creates an increase in hardness.
If you want to make a wedding band out of this metal, you are going to want to get a grade that is as pure as you can possibly get.
Although all grades contain pure titanium, the best type for rings would be in the Grade 2-4 range. Source
Due to these grades, that is why you will see a fluctuation in prices for titanium rings.
How Popular is Each Metal for Rings?
If you are in the jewelry business, then you have probably noticed the upswing trend in titanium or tungsten wedding bands.
This probably is attributed to the fact that both are cheap, beautiful, and can last your entire life.
Both are extremely popular due to the characteristics mentioned above, and you can’t go wrong with either of them.
One would think though that titanium is more popular due to its being able to avoid shattering, lightweight, and lower cost.
In reality though its the tungsten metal that is more desired for a wedding band.
|-Mohs hardness scale rating was between 8 or 9
-Scratch resistant from most materials except diamonds
-Can be polished by diamonds to give an everlasting shine
-Four times harder than titanium
-Can last its wearer a lifetime
-Density of 19.25 g/cm^3
|-In the event of an emergency, is hard to remove
-Will shatter when struck upon a hard surface
-Cannot be resized
-Is not easy to pawn off or trade for cash
-Heavier than titanium
|-Mohs hardness scale rating was a 6
-The most lightweight metal for a ring
-As strong as steel
-Can last its wearer a lifetime
-Density of 4.11 g/cm^3
|-Design options are limited
-Cannot be resized
-Does not have a natural shine, but a matte look
-Is not scratch resistant
-In the event of an emergency, is hard to remove
In the end, both metals create absolutely beautiful rings.
Titanium and tungsten can differ in some significant ways such as weight, hardness, and look, but by no means do they diminish each other’s value.
Pick the one you feel is best for your needs and will make you remember your special wedding day forever!