Difference between Tungsten and Titanium

Updated on March 27, 2017

Tungsten carbide and titanium are popular, modern materials used in crafting jewelry pieces, particularly rings or wedding bands. Despite sharing some similarities, both these metals possess distinct characteristics worth considering when looking for the best fit.

Definitions

Tungsten
A Lord of the Rings-style tungsten carbide band

Tungsten carbide is a chemical compound which contains tungsten and carbon atoms in equal amounts. While it is a metallic gray powder in its basic form, tungsten carbide can be pressed and shaped into many different forms. Its inherent hardness makes it highly suitable for use in cutting tools, industrial machinery, armor-piercing bullets, surgical instruments, and jewelry. Tungsten carbide is exceptionally hard (level 9 on the Mohs scale). It is twice as hard as steel (level 4-4.5), and three times harder than gold and silver (level 2.5-3).

Tungsten carbide has grown in popularity as a jewelry material, particularly as wedding rings because of its unique hardness. This allows tungsten carbide wedding bands to be extremely durable and highly resistant to scratches. There’s no other material that can scratch it except for diamond. However, tungsten carbide is brittle, and coupled with its extreme hardness, may crack or shatter when a strong enough force is applied.

Titanium
An elegant titanium ring

Titanium is a precious metal widely recognized for its inherent above-average strength in relation to its weight. It is a lustrous, low-density metal with a high resistance to corrosion caused by sea water and chlorine. Titanium is a level 6 on the Mohs hardness scale, making it harder than gold, silver or steel.

Titanium alloyed with other metals such as aluminum, iron, or vanadium produces lightweight alloys that are used in jet engines, spacecrafts, orthopedic and dental implants, mobile phones, and jewelry. Discovered in 1791, the commercial use of titanium was relatively unknown until William Kroll was able to develop methods of commercially producing it in 1932.

Through the years, titanium has been found to possess distinct properties that made it an ideal material for crafting jewelry, particularly wedding bands. It is non-toxic and hypoallergenic, thus a wearer shouldn’t worry much about allergic reactions. Titanium rings are highly resistant to corrosion brought about by sea water and chlorine. This means it’s a practical choice for people who love swimming in the pool or ocean.

Tungsten vs Titanium

So what’s the difference between tungsten and titanium? Both precious metals have grown in popularity in recent decades. While both share the same surface appearance at first glance, tungsten and titanium rings do have several differences.

Tungsten, or tungsten carbide, is a chemical compound composed of the precious metal tungsten and carbon atoms in equal parts. Titanium, on the other hand, is a precious metal that is alloyed with other metals to produce metal alloys used in aircraft, dental implants, and mobile phones, just to name a handful. In terms of hardness, tungsten carbide ranks at a 9 on the Mohs hardness scale, topped only by diamonds at rank 10. Titanium ranks at a 6 in terms of hardness. It is this exceptional hardness that gives tungsten carbide bands greater scratch resistance than titanium bands. However, titanium bands are typically more resistant to breakage or cracking compared to rings made of tungsten carbide.

Comparison Chart

TungstenTitanium
Ranks at level 9 on the Mohs mineral hardness scaleRanks level 6 on the Mohs hardness scale
Not hypoallergenicHypoallergenic
Quite heavy but has a pleasant feelLightweight
Highly scratch resistantRelatively scratch resistant

Video

Here’s a YouTube video showing how different these precious metals are in terms of hardness.