Is Tungsten Carbide Ceramic?

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Contemporary rings are rising in popularity as the top choice for wedding bands. Not only are contemporary rings more affordable than traditional rings like gold and platinum, they also look gorgeous and exhibit wonderful qualities. 

One of the most popular contemporary rings is the tungsten ring. Tungsten rings are made of tungsten carbide, which is one of the hardest substances on earth. Beaten only by diamond, tungsten is the hardest material used in jewellery. Because of this quality, tungsten rings are scratch-resistant and will not fade, tarnish, discolour, or rust over time.

Is tungsten carbide a ceramic?

Tungsten carbide is a hard and brittle ceramic. When it is combined with a binder, such as nickel or cobalt, it forms a tough ceramic metal or “cermet.” The result is a tough material that can withstand cutting as well as oxidation, high temperature, and wear. Tungsten carbide is also resistant to thermal shock, so it can withstand rapid temperature fluctuations. It can also be used as electrodes for Electrode Discharge Machining.

Being a very hard and wear-resistant metal, tungsten carbide can be used in many industries apart from jewellery making. For example, it can be used as a cutting tool or a metal-forming tool. In its monolithic sintered form, fine ceramic tungsten carbide particles, when embedded in metallic cobalt binder, are used in armor-piercing ammunition. 

Tungsten Rings vs. Ceramic Rings

However, when pertaining to jewellery, there is a difference between tungsten rings and ceramic rings. While tungsten is metallic, ceramic used in jewellery is non-metallic. It is naturally black in colour and has no coating. Both materials are harder in comparison to traditional metals, but tungsten carbide is still harder at 9 on the Mohs scale compared to ceramic’s 7. 

Tungsten carbide is also a lot heavier than ceramic, which matters if you are looking for a piece of jewellery that feels dense and hefty. Ceramic, meanwhile, is considered lightweight.

Tungsten is scratch-resistant, unless it is plated. In this case, the plating will naturally get scratches as you wear it. Ceramic rings, on the other hand, will scratch. 

Finally, both tungsten carbide rings and ceramic rings are great options for those who are looking for hypoallergenic jewellery. Ceramic rings are 100% hypoallergenic and will not cause skin irritations. However, if you choose tungsten carbide, you need to make sure that you are getting a genuine jewellery-grade ring made with a tiny amount of nickel binder. Avoid cheap ones at all cost because they are made with cobalt binder, which can irritate skin.