A large part of tungstens enduring appeal as a wedding ring is its durability and scratch-proof reputation. The ideal ring for active hands and busy lifestyles. This reputation is well-deserved, albeit not 100% accurate.
This article gives you the truth about how scratch-resistant tungsten rings really are.
Can tungsten rings get scratched?
Now to separate the fact from the myth: tungsten is very hard to scratch, but not impossible. Highly scratch-resistant would be the more accurate term.
The compound tungsten carbide has a rating of between 8 and 9 on the Mohs Hardness scale- a system devised to help rate the respective hardness of minerals and metals.
The Mohs scale was devised by German geologist Friedrich Mohs. It arranges minerals in increasing order of hardness- talc, the softest mineral, being a 1; diamond, the hardest mineral, being a 10. By observing which minerals could scratch the surface of the others, he could rank them accordingly.
With Tungsten carbide ranking number 9, it can scratch- and is harder- than all the other minerals except diamond.
One factor in tungsten’s scratch resistance is its coating.
Silver tungsten rings are the most scratch-resistant. This is because even if they are scraped against a hard surface, there is no pigment or coating that can be rubbed off.
Coloured or plated tungsten rings – with blue, black, red and even silver plated being popular choices – they are durable and highly resistant, but they are more vulnerable to scratching. This is due to the process used to plate the silver beneath – with a layer of zirconium alloy added to the ring.
The tungsten under the plating is generally fine, but it’s the plating that can get scratched if care isn’t taken.
While still durable and scratch-resistant, this has a lower Mohs rating than tungsten carbide, and they do have pigment that can be rubbed off with the contact, that can leave that scratched look.
This is true for both tungsten and titanium plated rings. The plating can get scratched – just like other rings. So care should be taken. You don’t want to be constantly bashing or scraping your ring.
How do you get scratches out of a tungsten ring?
Tungsten can only be scratched by materials with a higher Mohs ranking- apart from diamonds, these are few and far between.
If any scratches or marking does appear, this is more likely to be just material residue on the surface of your ring, from the other material. These can be removed simply: either by a good scrub with soapy water, or buffed with a jewellery polishing cloth.
However, if your ring is plated then often it will have to be replaced. Generally, you’ll find it isn’t cost effective to do that. Tungsten and titanium rings have a price point and if they are damaged often it is cheaper to replace them.
Which is more scratch resistant: tungsten or titanium?
Tungsten carbide- the compound used to make tungsten wedding bands- is comfortably more scratch resistant than titanium. Tungsten carbide measures 8 to 9 on the Mohs hardness scale, compared to 6 for titanium.
We hope this article has given you some useful information regarding tungsten carbide and its scratch-resistant properties. It may not be as scratch-proof as some claim, but it is extremely scratch-resistant!
Just be aware that if you find super cheap rings labelled as tungsten, they can be coloured steel which can rust, and / or the plating is so weak it won’t last more than one or two uses.