Tungsten and titanium are two alternative metals that have become highly popular especially for men’s wedding bands. Both these metals have many industrial applications and are known for their exceptional hardness and durability, but while they might appear similar, each is quite different from the other.
Even so, choosing between the two can be difficult and it may seem like you’re splitting hairs. But that’s exactly what we’re about to do.
Here’s a look at the difference between tungsten and titanium and an assessment of which is better for your wedding ring.
Both titanium and tungsten are extremely durable metals. They’re much harder than precious metals like platinum and gold and are excellent for daily wear. Here’s how they stack up against each other in the durability department:
- Hardness – Tungsten is the hardest metal out there registering at 9 to 9.5 on the Mohs scale. That’s incredibly hard (diamonds rank at 10) compared to titanium’s ranking of 6 on the Mohs scale. This hardness means that tungsten is much more scratch-resistant than titanium.
- Toughness – Because tungsten is a lot more brittle than titanium, it’s more prone to cracking or shattering if struck a hard blow. Titanium, on the other hand, doesn’t shatter but bends and becomes deformed.
A point to note: Hardness of a ring works both ways. While the tungsten doesn’t get scratched it can scratch everything it touches because it’s basically harder than almost anything it comes into contact with, except a diamond. Think scratches on fridge handles, kitchen appliances and other everyday objects. Titanium doesn’t cause as much destruction.
Appearance and Color
Tungsten and titanium both have a gray-white appearance which looks similar to that of more valuable metals like platinum. Both can be plated to display other colors including rose gold, yellow gold or black. In terms of ring finishes, both tungsten and titanium can display a range of finishes, including satin, brushed, hammered, polished and matte.
From the two metals, titanium is hypoallergenic and 100% biocompatible. It’s often used for surgical implants and is an excellent metal for piercing jewelry. Tungsten is a bit trickier because it all depends on the quality of the tungsten alloy. If the alloy contains nickel or cobalt, then the metal is unlikely to be hypoallergenic and can cause reactions for those with metal sensitivities.
Both these metals are affordable alternatives to traditional white metals. You can find a well-crafted tungsten or titanium ring for around $50. Having said this, note that the overall quality, materials and brand name of the ring can impact the price. Tungsten and titanium are excellent ‘interim’ metals if you need to save up to purchase a ring made of precious metals. They’re also perfect if you’re afraid of losing a valuable ring.
Because of how hard these metals are, resizing them is almost impossible. Retailers often offer an exchange policy for tungsten and titanium rings in case the ring doesn’t fit you down the track. As finger sizes change over time, it’s likely that at some stage, you will need to have your wedding band changed for one that fits. Even so, because of how affordable these metals are, you could always replace them.
Tungsten is the heaviest metal and has a very high density. Titanium, on the other hand, is often described as being ‘eerily light’. When you wear a tungsten ring, it feels substantial on your finger while a titanium ring may be unnoticeable. Which you consider better depends on your personal preferences.
Both tungsten and titanium can be engraved but not in the same way. Tungsten is often laser engraved while titanium can be engraved in traditional methods. Because tungsten is laser engraved, it’s easier to clean as there are no grooves and channels for dirt to get lodged in. It basically looks like the words have been written on with a pen.
There’s some fear that titanium and tungsten rings can’t be removed in an emergency but this isn’t true as both rings can be removed, albeit in different ways. Because tungsten shatters, it needs to be cracked using pliers while titanium can be cut through.
Which Is Better – Tungsten or Titanium?
It should be clear by now that the metal you choose depends largely on what you prefer, and not on which is better. To opt between the two, consider the following questions:
- Do you want a heavy ring or a barely-there light ring?
- Do you prefer a ring that shatters or a ring that bends?
- Do you want extreme hardness or a more than hard enough ring?
- Is biocompatibility important to you in your ring?
So, which to choose? If you’re having a hard time deciding, here’s what real users say:
Michael: I’ve got a tungsten ring which came with a replacement warranty, which means that if my ring stops fitting my finger, I get a free replacement. I’ve had the ring for over two years now – still no scratches and shiny as the first day I wore it.
Andre: After comparing the two metals, I chose titanium because it’s lighter and more comfortable for me to wear.
Jack: I liked the feel of tungsten but because I have metal allergies, I went with titanium. I’ve got used to how light it is, and I really like it now.
As you can see, both these rings have their pros and cons. Choose according to what suits your lifestyle and tastes.