When it comes to jewelry, gold, silver, platinum, and palladium, aren’t the only superstars when it comes to jewelry for brides and grooms. There’s a number of different alternative materials that are popular nowadays.
Among them are certainly tantalum and tungsten, valued due to their hardness and durability. These are most commonly found in men’s wedding rings.
In this article, we’ll dig into details and break down different properties of the two metals, compare them, and find their pros and cons.
- What is Tantalum?
- What is Tungsten?
- What Are the Differences Between Tantalum and Tungsten?
- Pros and Cons of Tantalum and Tungsten Wedding Rings
- To Wrap Up
What is Tantalum?
Tantalum is a hard but flexible metal, usually silvery gray in color, and sometimes with a hint of blue.
A bit darker than platinum but just as tough, this sleek and shiny metal has an industrial and futuristic appeal that’s cutting-edge, fresh, and new.
It can be designed to feature various finishes, including hammered, swirl, inlay, matte and shiny.
It naturally occurs as a mineral called columbite-tantalite, mainly found in Canada, Australia, Brazil, Thailand, Nigeria, and Portugal. To get tantalum, this needs to be separated from niobium, which is usually done through electrolysis.
History and Mythology:
This beautiful and shiny metal was first found in 1802. It got its name after Tantalus, the son of Zeus.
In Greek mythology, Tantalus was famous for his eternal punishment, where he was ordered to stand in a body of water forever with delicious fruits hanging just beyond his reach. Just like Tantalus, the metal itself can also be submerged in water for eternity without giving in to its power, which is corroding. For this reason, tantalum is often used in building water tanks and bridges.
Uses of Tantalum
Besides being water-resistant, this metal also has a high melting point and is extremely strong. Therefore, it’s widely used in electronics, and for the making of nuclear reactors, missile parts, and surgical appliances.
Although it’s been known for a wide range of uses thanks to its amazing properties, it wasn’t until recently that tantalum became popular in the jewelry industry. Men love tantalum wedding bands because they have a durable design and a unique look.
What is Tungsten?
Today, tungsten is the top-selling material for men’s wedding bands.
Tungsten, in this case, tungsten carbide, is a silverish white metal and one of the toughest materials found in nature, right after diamonds.
Tungsten is also commonly found in black, for a stylish modern look. The metal comes in a range of finishes, including matte, brushed, polished, hammered and sand blasted.
Tungsten is mainly sourced in China, Bolivia, South Korea, Russia, and Great Britain. It naturally occurs in minerals such as scheelite and wolframite, from which it’s harvested using carbon or hydrogen.
It got its name after a Swedish word, which means heavy stone. Pure tungsten is pretty soft, but when mixed into alloys, it’s exceptionally durable, dense, and strong, and virtually impossible to melt.
Uses of Tungsten
Tungsten carbide is the most common and the hardest tungsten compound, up to three times stronger than titanium.
Due to its strength and heat resistance, it’s often used for making drills, saw blades, bullets, and missiles. Similar to tantalum, tungsten is also widely used in electronics.
In the jewelry industry, tungsten is usually combined with other materials, such as nickel. Tungsten wedding rings found on the market today are most commonly made of 85% of tungsten and 15% of nickel to get ideal durability and scratch-resistance properties.
What Are the Differences Between Tantalum and Tungsten?
For men’s wedding rings, tantalum and tungsten are both very popular due to their hardness and durability. Although they have seemingly similar properties, the following features differ to some extent:
Although both metals belong to the group of the hardest materials in the world, tungsten or, to be more precise, tungsten carbide is extensively harder than tantalum. Tantalum, on the other hand, is much more flexible and less likely to break under pressure.
However, it’s good to know that both metals are much harder and scratch-resistant than gold or platinum, yet much more affordable. If you have a limited budget but want a ring that’s fashion-forward and timeless, both tantalum and tungsten wedding ring would be a good alternative for you.
#2. Color and Shine
Both metals have a beautiful gray color. Tantalum, however, has a deeper gray with bluish overtones and is slightly darker than tungsten, whose gray leans more toward whitish hues. In addition, tungsten is more lustrous, while tantalum, which has a more natural metallic look, is more reflective.
However, both metals can be polished for even more shine and treated for a more matte finish. In any case, both tantalum and tungsten wedding rings are very stylish and sleek, perfect for those men who want an eye-catching piece of statement jewelry.
When it comes to toxicity, both tantalum and tungsten are perfectly safe and risk-free. However, while naturally found tantalum has a low toxicity rate, tungsten has none. For this reason, tungsten wedding rings would be a perfect choice for all of those who have some metal allergies, and you can be sure that with tungsten, they won’t happen.
Bear in mind, though, that tungsten wedding rings usually have a low percentage of nickel in them. If you have nickel allergies, you should ask your jeweler what tungsten is mixed with before buying a ring.
Tungsten is much more heat and scratch resistant than tantalum. However, it’s also more brittle than its contender, and therefore, it’s not shatter-proof.
Suppose you’re someone with an active lifestyle or working with hammers and other heavy-duty tools. In that case, a tantalum wedding ring might be a better option for you after all, as it can’t break as easily as a tungsten alloy wedding ring.
However, there’s a myth that says tungsten can’t be cut off in an emergency. We’ve addressed that in this article.
Since tantalum is harder to find and much scarcer, it’s a highly valued metal, which is mirrored in the tantalum wedding rings price tags. Tungsten wedding rings are therefore considerably more affordable, typically around $200 to $300 or so less expensive than tantalum rings.
Pros and Cons of Tantalum and Tungsten Wedding Rings
This ring features an inner layer of tantalum and an outer layer of tungsten. See it here.
Picking a wedding ring is a pretty important decision as it’s something you’ll be wearing for the rest of your life.
A wedding ring is not only a beautiful piece of jewelry but also a symbol of love and trust as well as never-ending unity between you and your better half.
Therefore, you should take your time when choosing a wedding ring and weigh all the possible pros and cons of the material you decide to go for.
Pros and Cons of Tantalum Rings
- Slightly darker than platinum, tantalum has a natural metallic luster with a masculine appeal. It’s usually gray and is rich in color, and sometimes has a hint of blue.
- Scientists believe that tantalum’s natural resources will be exhausted in just a couple of decades, making it an extremely rare and valuable metal.
- Tantalum is exceptionally durable and resistant to breakage and scratching. For this reason, it’s a No.1 metal for making men’s wedding rings.
- These rings look incredibly stylish and are designed to be comfortable for everyday wear and active lifestyles.
- tantalum rings are also hypoallergenic and biocompatible.
- Maintaining tantalum wedding bands is easy, and they don’t require special care. To remove any dirt and debris, washing it with soap will suffice. It’s also recommended, as with many other rings, to keep it away in a box when it’s not worn to prevent any nicks.
- There are not many negatives when it comes to tantalum wedding bands. Perhaps, the one downside would be its price, which will only go higher due to the scarcity of this metal. However, it’s less expensive than platinum rings.
- The other disadvantage could be the relatively limited design of tantalum jewelry, which mostly consists of jewelry for men. There aren’t many options available for women.
Pros and Cons of Tungsten Rings
- Wedding bands made of tungsten have a beautiful gun-metal gray color with a natural luster. However, there’s a great variety of tungsten wedding bands available today, and these can be plated white, black, as well as gold, to suit every man’s taste and style.
- Just like tantalum, tungsten is another scratch-resistant metal. Due to its immense hardness, a tungsten ring doesn’t bend or flex and can’t become deformed. This is especially important in the case of accidents, when a ring that bends can injure you even more.
- Tungsten is perfect for all those who have gold or other metal allergies, as it’s naturally hypoallergenic. However, this of course depends on the specific alloy which could have nickel in it.
- Since it’s a rather new metal on the market, it’s fairly affordable, and it’s an excellent choice for those who want a beautiful wedding ring but don’t want to spend all their savings on it.
- Due to its diamond-like hardness, a tungsten ring won’t bend out of shape but is can shatter under enough pressure or shock.
- Tungsten rings are also impossible to resize for the same reason. However, all the reputable manufacturers and jewelers are aware of this flaw and usually offer a lifetime warranty and sizing policy to cover accidental breakages and exchanges if your ring finger size alters.
To Wrap Up
All things considered, it’s hard to tell which one is better, tantalum or tungsten. Both metals are exquisite, and they are equally attractive options when choosing a material for your wedding ring.
Perhaps, tantalum rings are a bit more durable due to their flexibility, but, on the other hand, tungsten rings are significantly cheaper. In the end, which wedding ring would be a better choice for you will depend on your budget and personal style.
If you’re looking to browse tantalum or tungsten rings, we recommend:
- Blue Nile: The company has a wide selection of wedding bands with an impressive variety of metals. Blue Nile is one of the top online diamond retailers on the market and have been trading as such since 1999.
- James Allen: Another diamond giant, James Allen also offers a large selection of high-quality stunning wedding rings, including tantalum and tungsten. Browse their collection to learn more about your options.