Friday, April 29, 2011

Tungsten Carbide Mens Wedding Rings

Today was the Royal Wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton.  Ahhhh I love weddings.  Thus the inspiration for this post about men's wedding rings. 

Recently it is popular for mens to get wedding rings made from industrial metals.  Many hi-tech metals, namely Titanium, has been the awe of many tech weenies.  As a kid, I would save my lunch money so that I could buy Ti bolts for my mountain bike.  It is only natural that when the time came to select a metal for a wedding ring many of my generation chose metals that were more personally precious and meaningful than gold/silver, or platinum. 

Diamonds are forever; or so they say.  That is why engagement rings are traditionally a metal band that houses a diamond.  The hardness of the precious stone represents the everlasting love between couples.  We won't go into the material value of such a stone and the ideas behind that.  This idea of everlasting was one thing that I considered when selecting a material for a wedding rings.  Titanium as some of you might know is known for being light, tough, used extensively in fighter aircraft, and found only on Russian soil.  Not quite a symbol of love.  In fact if you have ever seen a titanium ring which has been worn, you will notice that they do not appear to be everlasting and shiny at all.  Since Ti is relatively soft it is easily scratched and beat up.  Though this might be a more accurate representation of love and marriage, it is not the ideals that one thinks of when embarrassing the institute of everlasting love. 

If you have spent any amount of time in a machine shop you know that hardness is king.  Steel is used to cut aluminum.  High speed steel can cut regular steel.  But the boss of metals is tungsten carbide.  Not only is tungsten hard and heavy, it does not wear out under daily use.  A tungsten carbide ring will look just as shiny 10 year later as it did the day you said, "I do": forever. 

When selecting a ring, I wanted a two tone ring.  Tungsten rings are silver in color.  Dark grey tungsten is achieved by a anodizing process.  This process only colors the metal a few atoms deep.  Though hard, tungsten can still get micro scratches.  These small scratches typically do not show up and do not degrade the overall shininess of the metal.  However, when a layer of anodized tungsten is scratched off, the silver base metal will show through.  This results in a scratched looking surface. 

A solution to this two tone anodized problem is to inlay a darker material.  A common inlay material for tungsten carbide rings is ceramic.  Unlike your office coffee cup, hold on as I take another sip from mine, the ceramic used for rings is a much harder industrial ceramic.  This type of ceramic is commonly used in bullet prof vests as a ballistic plate.  Some claim that since ceramic is so hard, ones need to be careful with it, so as not to shatter the ring or inlay material.  This is false.  I have never been gentle with my ring and have not one blemish on it.   The ring in the picture above is the one that I wear.   It was purchased by my wife at a local jeweler.  A basic Tungsten carbide rings can be purchased for under $50.  Fancy ones can run up to $300.  The low cost of these rings is a welcoming figure in the high dollar world of weddings.  After all isn't love free. 

So now I wonder:  what type of wedding ring did Prince William get?

2 comments:

  1. I'd definitely recommend www.tungstenworld.com/ and their collection of tungsten rings to the prince as well. It's where we got our rings.

    ReplyDelete