If you’re wondering how to choose between tungsten or platinum for an engagement or wedding ring, the choice you make will depend largely on your views, values and budget. Asking which of these two metals is better is a little like asking if a car is better than a plane. The answer depends on the context.
Having said that, in order to understand which metal works for which context, we need to first break down the differences between them.
Platinum Wedding Band by James Allen. Check Price Here.
Platinum has been used in jewelry since the 1700s when it was first discovered. It’s known for its durability, beautiful lustrous color and value.
Even though it’s the most valuable metal used to create jewelry, platinum is most people’s first choice when it comes to engagement and wedding rings. It’s easy to maintain, resists corrosion and tarnishing and it’s biocompatible, which makes it ideal for people with nickel allergies.
Platinum is extremely rare which is partly what drives its value. Also, because it’s much harder than gold (4 on the Mohs scale), platinum alloys tend to be purer, typically at 95% purity.
One interesting fact about platinum is that when scratched, platinum displaces instead of losing metal. By contrast, if you scratch a gold band, the scratched bit of metal will be lost and over time the gold band will wear thin. Platinum will last for generations and only needs a periodic polish to remove any patina and regain its luster.
As one reader put it:
My mother went through about 3 gold bands during her lifetime because she wore her ring everyday and it took a beating. But her platinum engagement ring lasted throughout, and she was able to pass it on to me when I got married.
Gold Plated Tungsten Rings by R Cornejo Jewelry. Check Price Here.
Tungsten is a rare naturally occurring metal that was first identified in the 1780s. There is some confusion about the difference between tungsten and tungsten carbide, but to simplify matters:
- Tungsten (7 Mohs) refers to the pure metal, the element in its pure state
- Tungsten carbide (9 to 9.5 Mohs) is the best tungsten alloy, combining equal parts of tungsten and carbon atoms and used in most jewelry
Tungsten carbide is the hardest metal used in jewelry and is exceeded in hardness only by diamonds. Because of this exceptional hardness, tungsten rings don’t get scratched easily and maintain their luster, which is why they’re sometimes called the forever polished ring. While the hardness is excellent for a ring worn daily, it also means that tungsten rings can’t easily be resized.
Tungsten vs. Platinum
Platinum is the most prestigious metal for a wedding band, while tungsten is often considered the cheapest. As such, they’re on opposite ends of the prestige spectrum.
However, in terms of appearance and color, tungsten and platinum rings look very similar. Compare the two rings below, both taken from Blue Nile. Can you tell which is tungsten and which is platinum?
The ring on the top is platinum while the second ring is tungsten. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the tungsten ring is a little darker than the platinum ring. While they look alike, the difference in price is almost $500! In addition to that, the description for the tungsten ring states that it cannot be resized.
But in terms of maintenance, it’s highly likely that the tungsten ring will continue to look lustrous and polished for a very long time, while the platinum ring will likely develop a patina and look like this in about a year’s time:
The Verdict – Which is Better?
While we can’t say which is better, we can help you choose which you would prefer:
Choose a platinum ring if:
- Prestige is important to you
- You want your ring to have monetary worth
- You’d like to own a rare noble metal
- You like the aged look of patina
- You don’t mind having your ring polished every so often
- You prefer a ring that bends rather than a ring that shatters
- You want an heirloom quality ring to be passed down to the next generation
Choose a tungsten ring if:
- You’re budget conscious
- You want a ring that you don’t mind losing
- You don’t want to have to maintain and polish the ring
- You don’t like a patina
- You like a weighty, substantial ring
- You work with heavy machinery or use your hands a lot for work, so you prefer a ring that shatters rather than a ring that bends
- You have a practical view of your wedding ring
- Monetary worth isn’t important to you
If you’re looking to browse and compare tungsten and platinum wedding bands, check here.