Do Tungsten Rings Break? (EVERYTHING You Need to Know!)

Do tungsten rings break?  Since tungsten is a commonly used metal for wedding bands, you might want to know if they are good enough to use as a choice for the most important piece of jewelry in your life. Tungsten is one of the hardest materials available. But is this necessarily a good thing? Find out below!

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How to Choose A Good Diamond Ring

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What is Tungsten and What Are its Properties?

tungsten ring with a white background so do tungsten rings break?

Tungsten has the highest melting point [1] among metals. This simply means that it is a tough metal that can actually maintain its strength at very high temperatures.

Its color can be anywhere from steel gray to white. Although tungsten is one of the hardest metals, if not the hardest metal on the planet, it also can be quite brittle. It is for this reason that it is best used in combination with other metals to form an alloy.

An example of an alloy is tungsten carbide, which is the alloy used to make tungsten wedding bands.

READ MORE: Best Metals For Wedding Band

Can You Shatter a Tungsten Ring? 

Yes. Tungsten carbide rings, while hard and scratch-resistant, can shatter or break. This is because of tungsten carbide’s two properties: its low-impact strength and high compressive strength.

Low-Impact Strength

Impact strength [2] is the property of a metal that shows how much force it can withstand before it can break or shatter. While a metal like tungsten may be quite a hard one, it may not exhibit much impact strength.

The hardness of tungsten carbide lacks just that. It doesn’t exhibit much impact strength, so it can easily fracture or break when it encounters a powerful force.

High-Compressive Strength

Compressive strength [2] is the property to withstand vertical forces that can crush the metal. Metals that resist compression, though, end up becoming brittle [3], because of molecular structure.

So while tungsten carbide rings may indeed resist compression, they also are considered brittle because of this particular property of tungsten carbide.

Lack of Malleability

Unlike other wedding bands made from precious metals, like gold bands, even a premium tungsten ring isn’t malleable.  Gold can bend upon impact while tungsten cannot. This also adds to the tendency of tungsten carbide rings to break or shatter.

Take a look at this video of a Tungsten Ring test:

How Much Force is Needed to Break a Tungsten Ring 

The answer to this question may actually come with a few caveats. Before we talk about how much force it takes to break a tungsten ring, we actually need to see what kind of force we are even considering.

You have to remember that tungsten carbide is still a very hard metal and, based on the Mohs scale, it comes second to a diamond in terms of hardness [4].

Compressive Strength

To break a tungsten carbide ring, you will need to exert force repeatedly in order to break tungsten bands, as shown in the video below [5]. (Tungsten can be quite sharp, just like glass. Don’t do this at home!)

This goes to show that in terms of compressive strength, tungsten carbide rings are tough cookies.

Impact Strength

In this experiment [6] though, dropping a tungsten ring from a first-floor window was enough to make it fracture.   This goes to show that in terms of impact strength, tungsten carbide rings won’t have much to offer.

Can Tungsten Rings be Resized?

Unfortunately, you can’t resize Tungsten Rings. Keep this in mind if you plan to purchase a tungsten carbide ring. You cannot resize them, so you will have to make sure about the sizes because you will only get one chance at this.

So why can’t you resize a tungsten carbide ring?

Because of something called Sintering. Sintering [7] is a process that is done in order to make tungsten carbide. This involves mixing tungsten and carbon powder in a mold and heating them up in a vacuum furnace to form a ring. (Yes, Gollum’s precious…)

Because of a change in the way atoms are arranged during sintering, tungsten carbide doesn’t fuse with any other metal after it goes through sintering. And resizing a ring involves adding metal through a heating process.

Brittleness 

The brittle nature of tungsten alloys, in general, makes it difficult for these rings to be resized, even if you get the best quality tungsten carbide ring. 

FAQs About Tungsten Rings

Why did my finger turn green after wearing a tungsten carbide ring?

This is probably because you are wearing a ring that is mixed with a cheap metal [8] like copper or brass, which can oxide and cause the green color. Make sure you buy jewelry grade tungsten.

Are tungsten rings safe to use?

While tungsten in itself is a toxic metal that may even cause cancer [9], tungsten rings are made from jewelry-grade tungsten, so these are perfectly safe to use.

Are tungsten rings safe to use at work?

Yes! They can easily be broken off in emergencies, so they can be used anywhere.

So do Tungsten Rings Break? (Final Thoughts)

Like all other objects, tungsten rings can break, just like diamonds can get chipped or crack. However, it will take a lot of effort and much force to break a tungsten ring.

Tungsten is one of the toughest metals around as seen on the hardness scale. But hardness is only one physical property that you have to consider when you talk about the durability of tungsten rings.

Not that tungsten carbide rings are not good affordable alternatives to expensive metals like white gold or rose gold. It is tough enough to last for years, just like what your marriage should be. 

Like all pieces of jewelry, tungsten jewelry entails special care. As long as you keep that in mind, tungsten rings are definitely something you should consider when choosing that special band for that special event in your life.

References

  • 1. Tungsten, Chemical Element – uses, elements, metal, gas, number, name, symbol, mass [Internet]. Chemistryexplained.com. 2014. Available from: http://www.chemistryexplained.com/elements/T-Z/Tungsten.html
  • 2. Hothstein B. What are the Strongest Metals? [Internet]. Mead Metals, Inc. 19AD. Available from: https://www.meadmetals.com/blog/what-are-the-strongest-metals
  • 3. Cavallo C. Tungsten vs Tungsten Carbide – differences in mechanical and physical properties. [Internet]. www.thomasnet.com. Available from: https://www.thomasnet.com/articles/metals-metal-products/tungsten-vs-tungsten-carbide/
  • 4. Question: Which Is Stronger Diamond Or Tungsten? [Internet]. Ceramics. 2020 [cited 2022 Jan 22]. Available from: https://expandusceramicsquestions.com/qa/which-is-stronger-diamond-or-tungsten.html
  • 5. Emergency removal of a Tungsten Carbide Ring | titaniumstyle.com [Internet]. www.youtube.com. 2008 [cited 2022 Jan 22]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=poM423pewRE
  • 6. Ramaiya D. What does it take to break a Tungsten Carbide ring? [Internet]. Zaffre Jewellery. 2014 [cited 2022 Jan 22]. Available from: https://zaffre.com.au/blogs/zaffre-editorial/12996521-what-does-it-take-to-break-a-tungsten-carbide-ring
  • 7. Davidson A. Why Can’t Tungsten Carbide Rings be Resized? | [Internet]. SGS Polymer Solutions. 2017 [cited 2022 Jan 22]. Available from: https://www.polymersolutions.com/blog/why-cant-tungsten-carbide-rings-be-resized/
  • 8. Do tungsten carbide rings turn your finger green? [Internet]. www.titaniumkay.com. [cited 2022 Jan 22]. Available from: http://www.titaniumkay.com/tungsten-rings/do-tungsten-carbide-rings-turn-your-finger-green/
  • 9. Fallon Nevada: FAQs: Tungsten | CDC HSB [Internet]. www.cdc.gov. [cited 2022 Jan 22]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/clusters/fallon/tungstenfaq.htm
tungsten ring in a white background

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