Tungsten Carbide (chemical formula: WC) is one of the hardest, most durable metals jewelry is made from. Once polished, it will never dull, scratch, rust, or tarnish. There are virtually no materials other than a diamond that can scratch Tungsten Carbide. It’s heavy too, twice as heavy as stainless steel.
At 15.63 g/cm³, WC is twice the density of stainless steel (7.8 g/cm³) and midway between lead and pure gold. WC has been used nefariously to make convincing counterfeit gold bars which are actually just gold plated bars. It’s that heavy.
WC is extremely hard and ranks about 9 on Mohs Scale of Hardness, just beneath diamond at 10. Interestingly, stainless steel is 4-4.5 on this scale. The hardness of WC comes with some compromise as it does not stretch or bend at all which makes the material brittle. It takes quite a bit of force but you can break it.
How It’s Made
Four parts tungsten (W) and one part carbon (C) are reacted in a furnace at about 3500°F in the presence of a binder (nickel in this case). For our rings, this means forging inside custom made molds, one for each ring size. The ring “blanks” are then cut and polished, inlaid and plated.
Nickel is considered to be a quality binder for WC but there are others. Industrial WC (not for jewelry) is generally made with a cheaper cobalt binder which can irritate skin, cause redness and/or swelling, and eventually oxidize/tarnish. Many of the very inexpensive WC rings you can find on Amazon or eBay are made with industrial WC.
Nickel allergies are quite common but tungsten and nickel alloys are actually hypoallergenic. This is because nickel binds so well with tungsten that it loses its ability to react with skin. I haven’t found a scientific source to back this up but it appears to be conventional wisdom, Google “hypoallergenic tungsten carbide” and you’ll find jewelers everywhere touting this claim. Many of our rings are plated with gold and/or ion plated with an inert coating, all of our plating materials are nickel free.
Good As Jewelry?
Tungsten Carbide provides the bright shine of platinum at a fraction of the price and also has a more durable luster (doesn’t scratch or tarnish). For these reasons it has become a popular material choice for wedding bands and now, ahem … penis rings.
How Else Is It Used?
The hardness of WC makes it a great choice for; drilling and mining tools, mill products, surgical tools, and armor piercing bullets. Among the myriad of other uses, our favorite is rings to help you get and stay hard.