What are the Different Types of Tungsten Wedding Bands?

Stacy C.

There are many types of tungsten wedding bands. Some are made of pure tungsten, also known as wolfram, and others are alloys. Bands made of tungsten can come with embellishments such as engravings, inlays, gems or facets. They can also come with different finishes, including matte or satin. It even comes in black in addition to the usual silver tone. All of these elements can be combined in different ways to create a very unique and durable wedding band.

Abalone shell.
Abalone shell.

Before buying tungsten wedding bands, it is important to check the metal content. Bands can come in pure tungsten or a tungsten alloy. Tungsten carbide is the most common alloy and is incredibly strong and scratch resistant; only a diamond or the mineral corundum can produce a mark on a tungsten carbide ring. In fact, diamond is the most common gem found in tungsten rings because the hardness level of the two materials is so similar. A pure tungsten ring is much softer. Both straight tungsten and tungsten carbide are very brittle and prone to shattering or breaking. Although it will not bend, a tungsten carbide ring can be destroyed by using vice grips or a hammer to smash it.

Tungsten is a popular choice for men's wedding bands.
Tungsten is a popular choice for men's wedding bands.

Other common alloys include nickel-alloy tungsten and cobalt-alloy tungsten. While both are popular, the cobalt-alloy version is considerably softer and weakens the ring more than a nickel-alloy tungsten. Cobalt can also react badly with the oils in human skin and create discolored oxidation marks on the ring that cannot be washed off or buffed out.

Tungsten wedding bands with inlays are usually made of a tungsten base with a pattern set into the band. The inlay piece is often made of silver, gold or platinum for a high contrast look. Less traditional inlays may be made of almost anything, including carbon fiber that is black or white, wood and even abalone shell. Designs or lettering may also be inscribed with a laser.

Just like wedding bands made of traditional gold or silver, tungsten rings come in different shapes and thicknesses. The two most popular shapes are domed, which is a smooth, curved finish; and flat, which has an edge that is completely level. The shape may also be beveled, which gives the ring an angular edge; or concave, meaning the ring flares out at the outer edges. Tungsten wedding bands tend to be more popular for grooms than brides.

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