In the second of our guides to alternative jewellery metals we look at…
This is an exceptionally hard material and more scratch-resistant than titanium, steel or any of the precious metals.
Tungsten carbide is an alloy of mostly tungsten and carbon. This normally exists as a powder of fine particles in a matrix of another material such as cobalt, that allows the super-hard alloy to be moulded into the required shape: the melting point of tungsten carbide is extreme – 3422˚C – so partially melting the matrix in order to mould the material is the only practical way to work it! High pressures and temperatures are required to mould it into shape and the resulting material is so hard it can only be machined or re-finished by grinding with diamond-edged tools.
In addition to being extremely hard, tungsten carbide is very strong and keeps its shape very well, even after much wear. It is also dense and has a lovely weighty feel which can really be appreciated in the chunky rings we usually see in this material.
Tungsten carbide has a distinctive dark grey colour which looks fantastic with either a highly reflective or brushed finish. It combines well with other materials such as carbon fibre or ceramic to create sleek industrial looks. Alongside ion plating in a variety of colours, these combinations create some of the most eye-catching contemporary designs we stock. Alternatively, wood veneers create an intriguing texture contrast with the metal. We even have a design inlaid with meteorite to give a fabulous ‘space-age’ feel!
There are both pros and cons to a material that is as hard as tungsten carbide. Although it offers superior scratch resistance, maintaining a beautiful finish for longer, it also means that your tungsten carbide ring is not able to be resized in the future; if your fingers alter you will need to replace the ring. Tungsten carbide also requires a specialist tool to remove it in case of emergency: it cannot be cut off but instead needs to be placed under pressure by a tool which causes the ring to fracture. It is also possible to unintentionally break a tungsten carbide ring if it experiences a sharp knock or application of force; much like a diamond, extreme hardness does not equate to indestructability!
Our exciting range of tungsten carbide rings is available to view on our website or in our showroom. These rings are available from our supplier in a limited range of sizes; contact us for more information about availability.