Posted by: davepidgeon | November 24, 2008

A wedding ring for the adventurous

Among the top signs you’re a gear head bordering on geekdom is when you search for a wedding ring the way you look for a new internal frame pack – how does it function in the backcountry.

And yes, this is what I did. Alison and I bought our wedding rings this weekend, and when I looked at the options for men from white gold to platinum to stainless steel to titanium, I ignored all of them and went for the tungsten carbide. Tungsten carbide among all the options stood out to me because the hybrid metal (tungsten plus a bunch of other stuff) is virtually scratch resistant, which means I can traverse the Old Rag boulder scramble and come home reasonably sure my future wife won’t be upset by a marked up ring. 

The combo is ground into a powder and shaped to form what’s called a ring blank, according to this jewelry Web site. Fire up the oven to 6,200 degree fahrenheit, stick the blank inside, and heat until it becomes the hardest metal in the history of heavy metal (think Motley Crue versus Winger). The ring is then shaped.

Tungsten carbide rings are heavier on the finger than the other options, which is why I like mine. Must be some imbedded need for a ring that makes me feel masculine rather than the wimpy white gold. Seriously, though, when Ali and I met with several jewelers, I became more and more entranced with the tungsten carbide because of its hardiness and functionality during future trips into the backcountry. There are some setbacks like tungsten carbide has to be special ordered in your size because the metal is so hard it can’t be shaped after it’s made. Small problem if you find a ring your size, though.

Here’s a wedding ring hammer test to show what I’m talking about. Reminds me of what we used to do to Nalgene bottles when I worked at Eastern Mountain Sports:



  1. You comment that “There are some setbacks like tungsten carbide has to be special ordered in your size because the metal is so hard it can’t be shaped after it’s made.”
    How about this setback from a medical journal?
    “Some hardened materials recently introduced for use in jewelry, such as titanium alloys and tungsten carbide, can pose a considerable risk of secondary damage if no appropriate cutting tools are available in the ED.
    In the event of any significant hand injury or broken bone in the hand or the finger, you might lose the finger. Even with only a broken finger, by the time you get to the ER, there’s usually swelling.
    With gold, platinum or silver, they have the tools to just cut the ring off easily with a pair of side cutters, even around a swollen finger.
    With Titanium or tungsten, that’s simply not an option. If you’ve ever machined or ground any, you know the tools needed and heat generated.
    Because of the swelling, while they’re trying to figure out how to cut through your ring, your finger has no circulation. Not good.”
    Do you think that’s a good reason for using precious metals for jewelry and industrial metals for industry?

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