Exceptional for permanent polish and resilience to wear and tear, tungsten rings have gained immense popularity in recent years, especially among men, and is one the fastest types of wedding bands selling online today. But with the huge numbers of retailers who have caught on to this trend now flooding the market, how should the savvy online shopper decide which one to choose from? Let’s just say, not all tungsten carbide rings are equal. Here are some things you need to know to turn your online tungsten ring purchase into the best one ever.
Tricks of the trade to navigate the online tungsten carbide ring market
1. Find a retailer where “Free” is actually Free
One of the main reasons for tungsten carbide rings’ exploding popularity, besides their extreme hardness and shine, is all the “free” offers that come with its purchase to make it a great deal. But don’t be so easily fooled, not all “free” offers are truly free.
Free Shipping – Free shipping is free, only if you keep the ring. If you decide to return it, shipping cost may be deducted from your refund.
30 day money back guarantee/refund – May come with a sizable re-stocking or processing fee.
Free Lifetime Warranty/Sizing – Comes with a hefty “deductible” fee sometimes up to $50-75.
Of course, there are retailers that offer truly free sizing and warrantee with no hidden fees. These stores that are willing to offer quality services stand by the quality in their rings and are confident that their rings will not fail.
2. The 3 C’s of tungsten rings – Comfort, Content, Craftsmanship
Even though pictures from different websites may look the same, the actual ring you get may not look as good as its picture. There is a huge variation in the quality of rings out there, differences you cannot discern without having the ring in your hand. These are factors to consider to be sure you are buying the highest quality ring you deserve.
Comfort – depends on the Thickness of the ring, weight, width, etc.
The comfortable feeling of wearing a ring is greatly determined by its thickness. While most retailers proudly boast they offer “comfort fit” rings, they are less eager to declare their actual thickness. In many cases of tungsten rings, they are often too thick to be comfortable. After all, a thin halo of metal around your finger feels better than a bolt, and looks better. For example, most gold rings average 1.8 mm – 2.0 mm maximum in thickness. Poor quality tungsten rings can be as thick as 2.5 mm and there are many of them out there. There is a difference in the properties of gold and tungsten as metals. Tungsten wedding bands will be on average thicker than gold ones as they need to be a certain thickness to prevent breaking. But as long as this threshold is achieved, they should be as thin as possible, and this depends on how the tungsten ring is made. Higher quality tungsten rings should have a maximum thickness of 2.3 +/- 0.1 mm. Also, it is important to know that the ring’s thickness should change depending on the size. A size 12 ring can be 2.3 mm thick while a size 6 ring should only be 1.8 mm thick to be most comfortable. Determine the right thickness for your size to get a truly high quality ring. Look for listed specifications of a ring’s thickness, width, weight, etc. Also make sure the edges of your tungsten ring do not feel sharp or ragged as this has been seen in many low quality rings. A truly well made “comfort fit” ring should have no sharp edges.
Content – Percentage of Tungsten Carbide Purity
Most tungsten ring websites know to mention that high quality tungsten bands have trace amounts of nickel in the composition of the rings while low quality ones use cobalt, or that quality tungsten rings are made of tungsten carbide; but the actual percentage of tungsten carbide in the ring is a lesser known fact. Many retailers do not really understand the actual facts or details and are less likely to offer real high quality tungsten wedding bands. Like gold jewelry, made of 58.3% gold (14 karat) or 75% gold (18 karat), the tungsten ring is best at a certain percentage of purity (Gold jewelry is almost never 100% – 24 karat- because it would be too soft and lose form easily). If there is too little tungsten carbide, the rings are not as hard and scratch-resistant as they could be; with too much tungsten carbide, the rings are too brittle and crack easily. An alloy with a purity of 85% Tungsten Carbide is the current standard for producing the best quality rings. Ask your retailer before you buy, and they should be able to answer this question without hesitation.
Craftsmanship – Symmetry of the Final Finish and Style
Tungsten carbide rings are each individually created, even the same style ring will not be exactly perfectly alike, and there may be a huge difference in the final look and symmetry of the ring. Symmetry means that one side of the ring should look the same as the other side, or as close as possible. For example, if a tungsten ring is supposed to have beveled edges, the bevel on one side should be equally as wide as the other bevel. If a tungsten ring had a brushed center stripe, make sure it is not off center, unless it is intentionally designed that way. A satin or brushed finish should also be as even and precise as possible. If a brushed finish meets a polished finish, see if there is a straight line all around the ring where the two finishes meet. Inconsistent finishes and obvious asymmetry in tungsten rings reflect poor craftsmanship and lack of good quality control.
Best Test to find the Highest Quality Tungsten Ring
If you are willing to spend a little extra time, it can be worth it to take advantage of the free shipping and 30 day money back guarantees to purchase tungsten rings from more than one online retailer. Compared side by side in your hand, you may be able to see whether you are truly getting the highest quality tungsten ring you expect.
With tungsten rings, higher prices actually do somewhat reflect higher quality. Tungsten rings are unique because they are made in a different fashion from most precious metal rings. Due to the high cost of gold and platinum, for example, individual molds are created for each ring style and then molten metal is poured into the molds. Once the metal cools and hardens, it is nearly finished, requiring only minimal polishing work and finish. This leads to less material waste and labor spent polishing and grinding the ring into the desired shape. Tungsten rings, on the other hand, cannot be made with molds because of tungsten’s unique extreme hardness. Instead, each ring starts out from a rough cast that looks exactly the same. Through intense labor and machining, the ring acquires its final distinctive finished design, similar to a statue that is chiseled out of a solid block of rock. Therefore, more time, labor, and work will likely produce higher quality rings, and also equates with higher costs. Rings that retail for less than $100 reflect lower costs, but usually translate to lower quality.