When you’re shopping for the perfect wedding band, it’s easy to get lost browsing for style and design. However, before you settle on a design that you like, it’s equally important to understand the essential profile of material you’ve chosen. Is it resizable? Scratch-resistant? Hypoallergenic? These are questions that shoppers rarely ask themselves, but doing your research can save you frustration later on.
From durability and weight to cleaning and care, there are so many different attributes to consider when choosing your wedding band. Educating yourself about the benefits and properties of each metal may actually help you make your decision and ensure that you’ll be happy with your band for many years to come. This buying guide compares three common metals—tungsten, titanium, and gold—to help you choose the wedding band that best fits your needs.
Toughness and Density
The Mohs scale is a measurement of density commonly used to compare metal hardness. The scale ranges from 1-10, with 10 being diamond strength. Tungsten steel measures 8-9 on the Mohs scale, making it almost fifteen times harder than gold, which is a 2.5 on the Mohs density scale. Titanium sits in the middle at a 6.5-level hardness.
So why is this important? It turns out that these numbers mean a lot in terms of wear and maintenance.
Because of its density, the surface of a tungsten band is highly scratch-resistant—no polishing or buffing required. It’s also noticeably heavier. On the other hand, titanium offers a much lighter weight option if you’d like to find a ring with a “what ring, oh yeah I got married in Vegas last night” feel. Titanium isn’t fully resistant to scratching, but any scratches that you see will be fairly shallow and can be easily buffed out.
Titanium is also more crack-resistant than the brittle composition of tungsten, which will shatter under extreme pressure as opposed to bending. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you can’t remove your band, these differences in density properties make emergency removal procedures very different. Titanium rings can be cut with appropriate tools that are not as easily accessed in an emergency, while tungsten can be shattered and removed quickly without any risk of further damaging your finger.
Similarly, these Mohs density differences also have implications for resizing. In that category, gold takes the gold (pun totally intended) for the ability to be resized, however there is one major catch. With such a low hardness rating, in an emergency situation gold can be crimped and bent around your finger causing further complications and potential injuries that may otherwise have been avoided.
The takeaway: Tungsten has a much higher hardness and density rating that makes it scratch-resistant, and much safer in any emergency. Though harder to remove in an emergency, Titanium is a great alternative for those looking for a lightweight option with reasonable durability to boot.
Resizable vs. Non-Resizable
Because gold is more pliable, it can be resized, soldered, and repaired more easily over time. Naturally, as our bodies change with age, many people report a change in their ring finger size. To avoid dangerous constriction of blood flow to the finger, it is important to either get your ring resized or buy a new ring that fits. Of these three metals, gold is the only one that can be resized by a jeweler. While some jewelers will offer titanium ring resizing, it is generally a riskier process and much more difficult.
The takeaway: Go for gold if you’d like to be able to resize it over time.
Are you someone prone to allergic rashes or skin sensitivities? If so, it’s possible that the precious wedding band you’re agonizing over can end up irritating your skin. For something you plan to wear everyday, that’s not going to work. If you’re concerned, titanium is the only option in this comparison that is naturally hypoallergenic.
While allergic reactions are obviously a special circumstance, it is helpful to know that tungsten sometimes contains cobalt, which is a compound that causes allergic reactions in some people. Similarly, gold can sometimes cause allergic reactions, depending on its purity.
The takeaway: Opt for titanium if you have metal allergies.
Titanium and tungsten are both fairly competitively priced, and both offer some cost savings compared to gold bands.
When you’re shopping for a wedding band, it’s important to consider which metal and style is best suited to your taste and lifestyle. Knowing the properties of these metals can help you make the decision between tungsten steel, titanium, and gold bands—and give you crucial knowledge about future maintenance of your ring.
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