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Titanium vs. platinum wedding rings

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Q. I am trying to help my son to decide which metal is the best for a wedding band set. I always thought that platinum was the best of all! Never tarnish, strong, allergy free metal. costly but worth every penny. but he told me that titanium would be better for a wedding ring set. Which is the strongest, for the cost and livelihood? I just bought a 1 k ring in platinum, princess cut with floating diamonds in the middle to make it a princess cut. it cost me $2,999.99 was I taken or not? And once again which metal is the better buy?

Thanks,

Sharron Simmons
Columbus, Ohio


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A. Titanium is stronger and less people have an allergic reaction to it (titanium is used in body implant surgery), so in that regard its better. As for value titanium is MUCH less expensive than platinum. It comes down to the rarity of the material, platinum is a precious metal because there isn't much of it to be found; titanium on the other hand is very abundant (I think I recall reading its the most abundant metal in the earth's crust). From my understanding of it the only reason titanium is somewhat expensive is due to the difficulty in refining.

In theory you should be able to buy a titanium set for a fraction of the price of a platinum set. The "value" of the platinum set will be worth more due to the precious metals aspect but it really just comes down to what you prefer and not how much it costs. I myself would prefer a stainless steel band with an opal setting because I much prefer these materials to gold/platinum/diamond, etc., even though stainless and opal is dirt cheap compared to diamond/gold setup. As for your ring you purchased, that's impossible to say without having it appraised but spending thousands for such a setup is commonplace.

Jason Aube
- Flint, Michigan

Titanium Wedding Rings


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A. Sharron,

I am going to give you a decidedly biased answer since I am a metallurgist in the jewelry industry but I would go with the platinum. Comparing Titanium and Platinum is kinda like comparing apples and oranges. I think Titanium is a great metal with lots of cool properties such as the way you can color it and the fact that it is non-allergenic; however, it is best used in rockets and hip implants. Platinum is a precious metal that is also hypoallergenic, does not oxidize (Titanium will under high enough temperatures) and because of its high density is actually quite wear resistant. It's value is timeless. Which metal would you want to pass on to your children and grandchildren? With platinum pushing 850 per ounce I don't think you paid too much for the ring although the stones probably cost more than the metal and that's what you have to be careful about.

Costantino Volpe
- Cumberland, Rhode Island


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A. On a side note ... a fairly new product made out of titanium that is just starting to hit the jewelry market is something called "timascus" -- it's a titanium-damascus that is forged out of different alloys of titanium (mostly cp and 6al4v). Non-anodized its not very impressive, but once anodized the varying layers of titanium color differently resulting in a beautiful pattern. It resembles a mokume but with wild bright colors. Last I knew it was only being made by 1 shop and is used mostly in the knife-making field. I've used it a few times and love it, I'll be ordering some soon to make a band style ring for myself.

Jason Aube
- Flint, Michigan



Titanium vs. platinum rings in cold weather

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Q. My husband and I have been married for 5 years. His wedding band is 14K gold. In the winter, when his hands get cold, his ring finger will turn ice cold and lose its color. If he doesn't take his ring off, his finger starts to look like it is not getting any blood flow and is going to fall off. It only happens when his hands get cold. He works in a factory that doesn't have a very good heating system, so he's cold everyday. I was wondering if we got a titanium or platinum ring, if he would still have this problem. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you,

Tiffany Shepherd
- Russia, Ohio


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A. A jeweler or doctor would be more familiar with the problem than me, but I think it's the tightness of the ring, not the metal it's made of, that is the problem. The metal contracts in the cold, and his fingers probably swell from the cold, cutting off circulation (only my guess). But it appears very dangerous. His ring needs to be enlarged.

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


Stainless steel vs. Titanium vs. Tungsten jewellery

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Q. Which is the hardest wearing (in terms of scratch resistance, not bending) of the above three? Which is the heaviest? Which is hypoallergenic?

Thank you.

Renee Brady
- Vancouver, BC, Canada

Unique black tungsten carbide men's rings


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A. Compared to platinum, I was told while shopping that it's much harder to have scratches polished out of titanium , harder to do and harder to find someone who will and that tungsten will scratch more easily.

Melinda Grace Kennedy
- Redlands, California


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A. Tungsten carbide is 4x harder than titanium and 2 times heavier than platinum, tungsten is virtually scratch resistant, tungsten has the highest melting point of all metals and most resistant to scratches. From what I know , in the scale of hardness it scores a 8-9 while diamond is ranked at 10 as hardest of all.

Eli Hernandez
- Falls Church, Virginia


May 2014

A. Thanks Eli. Tungsten carbide is very very hard, and many cutting tools are made from it. It is pretty heavy, more than 3x as heavy as titanium, but it is not twice as heavy as platinum ... in fact it is only 3/4 as heavy.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

sidebar May 8, 2009

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lonsdaleite "It is translucent brownish-yellow in colour and has an index of refraction from 2.40 to 2.41, a specific gravity from 3.2 to 3.3, and a Mohs hardness of 7-8. The Mohs hardness of diamond is 10; the lower hardness of lonsdaleite is chiefly attributed to impurities and imperfections in the naturally occurring material, and a pure sample could be 58% harder than diamond."

"Lonsdaleite might be 58% harder than diamond. In February 2009 scientists from the University of Nevada and the Shanghai Jiao Tong University reported simulations that show by applying very high indentation loads to lonsdaleite the mineral should react by increasing its resistance by as much as 78%. The resulting material is calculated to resist indentation pressures of 152 GPa, much higher than diamond, which under the same conditions will break at 97 GPa."

Nathan Goodman
- Linton, Indiana


June 25, 2009

Q. I am allergic to nickel, my skin turns red develops a rash and have been tested for it. But I recently got engaged and was looking for a good strong quality ring. Is what I am wondering is how is Tungsten Carbide made? Is/Would there be an nickel in it? Thank you!

Brandon Butler
Buyer - Lincoln, Nebraska


December 3, 2010

A. Your question is not easily answered. It all depends on what qualities you value in a ring. For example, are you looking for durability? color? intrinsic value? value?

If your looking for durability I would avoid platinum. I have both platinum and 14K gold wedding bands and can tell you that both will scratch. 95% platinum scratches very easily. After 10 years my gold wedding band (14K yellow gold) is pretty scratched but still has a nice luster.

As for color, there is no comparison between platinum and steel. Platinum has a nice color that is simply difficult to describe. It does not look cheap. 14K yellow gold is also a nice color because it matches the skin. I like my platinum wedding band because it matches the steel in my watch band. Its a similar color scale but there is a greater depth of color vs. the watch band vs. the shined platinum in the ring.

As for value steel/tungsten is obviously cheaper. You could also purchase carbon fiber, wood etc. It all comes down to what you wan't to wear and the "image" or "status" that you are looking to convey.

The only thing I would add is as a man my wedding band is the most obvious piece of jewelry that I own. Its always out there and visible. Accordingly, I like knowing that I'm wearing a platinum or gold ring. I think the steel looks too cheap.

L. Silverman
- NYC, New York


June 1, 2014appended

Q. I have been trying out several ring materials to see what I am not allergic to. So far, stainless steel and titanium have not been a problem. I have not tried tungsten. My question is, can I have my gold wedding ring "dipped" in one of these? If not, how costly is it to have a setting made with one of these materials? Thank you.

Anna Osborn
- Omaha, Nebraska, USA


May 2014

A. Hi Anna. Proper grades of stainless steel (surgical stainless) and titanium are non-allergenic. Tungsten carbide is probably non-allergenic but it may be early to tell.

None of the three materials is electroplateable or "dippable". It might be theoretically possible to have these materials vacuum deposited on your ring from a PVD chamber, but actually finding someone to operate a million dollar piece of equipment to do one ring is improbable.

None of these materials is a precious metal, and therefore they are inexpensive. Probably most jewellers would be happy to give you a setting in any of the three in exchange for your gold ring :-)

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey
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