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Whether it’s for a special gift or your own wedding, there’s nothing quite like buying a ring. You want something that matches your or the recipient’s style, first off. But you also need to consider durability, wearability – and, of course, price.
Platinum and tungsten are two popular metal choices for rings. They’re both hardwearing and hypoallergenic, but they have key differences when it comes to cost and upkeep.
Read on to learn more about these two metals and which one may be a better choice for you.
You can find both metals on your nearest periodic table – they’re both considered pure elements.
But just in case it’s been a while since your last chemistry class, let’s take a look at their properties.
Found under the symbol ‘W’ on the periodic table, tungsten is a grayish-white metal notable for its high melting point. And its hardiness doesn’t stop there – it’s also resistant to both acids and corrosion.
The pure metal also has a low coefficient of thermal expansion. What is that?
Imagine you have a glass jar with a metal lid. The lid is stuck, so you stick it under a faucet with warm tap water for 15 seconds or so. The heat causes the lid to expand even as the jar stays the same size; this makes taking the lid off much easier.
When it comes to jewelry, that means your ring won’t react too much to the temperatures around you. It will stay the same size on your finger no matter what the temperature is.
Platinum – or ‘Pt’ on the periodic table – has a lot of similar properties to tungsten. It resists corrosion and acids about as well as tungsten does. It also has a similar resistance to expanding at high temperatures.
The major difference between platinum and tungsten has to do with rarity. Platinum is considered a precious metal – the amount of pure platinum ever mined to this date could fit into a 5’x5’ storage unit.
Platinum is also in high demand – it has a lot of medical and laboratory uses. This demand, combined with the metal’s rarity, can make it quite expensive. Over the past 20 years, it’s frequently been more expensive than gold.
Both metals are durable, but tungsten has the edge. The Mohs scale, which measures the hardness of minerals through a scratch resistance test that goes from 1-10, ranks a platinum ring at a 4 to 4.5, whereas a tungsten carbide ring ranks at a 9 to 9.5 on the Mohs scale.
To make those numbers more concrete, a platinum ring is only slightly harder than limestone (a 3 on the Mohs scale), while a tungsten carbide ring ranks near rubies and sapphires (both 9s). It ranks just under that toughest and most eternal of stones, the diamond (a Mohs 10).
“It’s great that this metal’s so tough and durable,” you may say, “but will I be able to get my ring off in an emergency?”
Tungsten rings may be hard, but they can also brittle. That means your ring can be cracked off if need be. But don’t worry, this doesn’t happen very often. A tungsten ring will only break if it hits a very hard surface with some force.
Platinum is naturally a light, bright gray that makes the metal resemble silver. Tungsten is naturally a bit darker and can look more like stainless steel.
However, tungsten can be plated through a modern technique called Ion Plating, also called ‘IP Plating’. It is a very hard-wearing and durable plating that can last for many years. Plating colors include the popular black, yellow, rose, blue, and others.
You’re unlikely to see that variety of hues when it comes to platinum. Normally, platinum rings are only plating with rhodium, which is a member of the platinum group of metals. Rhodium plating gives the ring a slightly more enhanced luster and durability, but the color will remain similar to what it was before the plating.
For those with metal sensitivities, both platinum and tungsten rings are good choices.
Platinum rings are hypoallergenic and normally 850 out of 1000 parts platinum mixed with iridium, palladium, ruthenium and/or osmium. Base metals for hardness can include copper or cobalt.
Tungsten, too, is hypoallergenic, and rings made from it are usually 90% tungsten and carbon with a metal binder of nickel or cobalt. At Steven G Designs we only use nickel without cobalt, but the rings are still hypoallergenic because the nickel binds so well with the tungsten that it loses its ability to react with the skin. So, the wearer should have no reaction with the tungsten ring.
When it comes to ring shopping, look for one that’s listed as hypoallergenic and free from any metals you’re sensitive to.
When compared to gold and silver, both metals are very durable. A platinum ring, though, can lose its shine. A quick trip to the jeweler’s for a steam clean is generally all that’s needed to clean off the patina.
But even that’s a bit high maintenance when compared to tungsten. Tungsten rings keep their shine well. And if you do need to clean it, you can do it at home with a little mild soap and warm water.
When it comes to price, tungsten runs circles around platinum. You can purchase a tungsten carbide ring for under a hundred dollars. A ring with another material added, such as wood, meteorite, deer antler or abalone shell might cost you a little extra.
But compare that with platinum, where a simple band can cost you almost one thousand dollars. That’s about ten times the price of tungsten!
Choosing a tungsten wedding ring over platinum can make good financial sense, especially if you’re prone to losing jewelry. And choosing a tungsten ring over platinum can give you a lot of extra money for the honeymoon!
When it comes to tungsten wedding rings, there are plenty of options to suit all manner of tastes. You can get one plated in gold for a more traditional feel, or check out ones that incorporate wood, meteorite, or abalone inlay.
And if tungsten isn’t right for you, ceramic is another good option. It’s also durable, easy to clean, and stable under heat. A ceramic wedding ring is also even less likely to cause a sensitivity or allergic reaction.
You deserve a stylish, meaningful ring that’s built to last. Tungsten wedding rings can offer beauty and durability at a fraction of the price of other metals. It’s also easy to engrave your ring to really make it unique.
Interested in checking out your options? Click here to browse our selection of beautiful and elegant tungsten wedding rings.
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