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Will a Tungsten Ring Rust, Tarnish, or Oxidize?

30th Jan 2017

It may surprise you to learn that it is indeed possible for a tungsten ring to rust, tarnish, or oxidize. Though you wouldn't think it, due to the oft-touted toughness and everlasting durability of tungsten carbide, the fact is some tungsten rings will most certainly rust, and some tungsten rings will never rust.

Confused? Worry not because we are going to clear this up right here once and for all. You see, there are actually two grades of tungsten carbide: industrial grade and jewelry grade. One is cheaper to produce than the other and tarnishes, the other is more expensive but will always look as good as the day you bought it.

High quality tungsten carbide mixed with nickel binder is chemically inert and will not oxidize (react with oxygen, or basically tarnish or rust) except at temperatures reaching 600C. Binder is used to "bind" the tungsten carbide together. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said of tungsten carbide mixed with cobalt binder. Herein lies a tiny yet significant difference that catches the majority of buyers are unaware, especially those in the budget for cheap tungsten rings (we're talking very cheap rings, less than $50).

If your tungsten carbide ring has tarnished, chances are your ring was made from cheap industrial grade tungsten carbide and not from jewelry grade, which uses nickel binder. Cobalt versus nickel binder makes a difference in materials price (hence the price difference) and the lasting quality of the ring.

Cobalt binder tungsten rings simply do not last over time. They are not chemically inert and therefore react with the environment, oxidizing easily when exposed to common household cleaners and even the skin's natural oils. Oxidation causes discoloration, often turning the ring brown, gray or black, and loses shininess. Unless you like the look of a darkened, matte surface ring—and some people do—you would be better off avoiding such cheap tungsten rings due to the possibility of them being made from low grade tungsten carbide.

This ring, as yet unbeknownst to its wearer, is indistinguishable from jewelry grade tungsten, but is actually industrial grade.

After five years of "normal" wear and tear, this is now what the ring looks like. It is not normal at all for a truly high quality tungsten ring to rust like this, ever.

Do you know what else is bad about cobalt binder? It is known to cause skin irritation to some people while nickel binder is completely hypoallergenic. If you don't know if you are allergic to cobalt, trust us when we say you don't want to find out. Unless you are a fan of rashes, cobalt is best to be avoided.

Sadly, sellers of cheap tungsten rings are piggybacking off the reputation of jewelry grade tungsten which is of much higher quality and should not ever rust for reasons explained above. These sellers prey on oblivious shoppers who don't understand the drastic difference that binder—and price—can affect on a ring, whose only criterion for purchasing is paying the lowest amount possible. Sometimes it's worth it to shop with some common sense and not strictly with your wallet. Things are cheap for a reason, but you knew that already.

If you've already discovered that your tungsten ring has turned into this ugly black color, realize that you bought a low quality ring. Worse yet, you most likely won't be able to do anything about it. Jewelers who sell cheap tungsten rings often are the very same ones with nonexistent customer support, another factor reflected in their prices. And what about a lifetime warranty? Unlikely.

These predatory practices are the exact opposite of what to expect when purchasing a tungsten ring from Timeless Tungsten. Our rings are priced competitively and affordably, are made from jewelry grade tungsten carbide using nickel binder, will never tarnish or oxidize or rust, and are protected by an ironclad lifetime warranty guarantee. We stand by our rings and we offer the type of attentive customer service that only a small family-owned jeweler can provide. We ship most rings same-day with expedited shipping times, even internationally within 3 business days. We are also proud to offer no-hassle 30 day returns.

If you're looking for affordable tungsten rings that won't rust, won't cause you skin irritation, and will last you a lifetime (literally), look no further than Timeless Tungsten. Our selection of over 600 premium tungsten rings is sure to meet any need or budget.