Tungsten carbide is one of the hardest metals and its level of hardness is very high when compared to other hard metals. To get an idea of how hard it is we can compare its hardness value, which is in the range of 1600 HV as compared to that of MS or mild steel, which has a hardness value of just 160 HV. Though tungsten is called a hard metal, it is actually an inorganic chemical compound that contains equal parts of tungsten and carbon atoms. There is an interesting legend behind tungsten that goes like this. Carl Wilhelm Scheele was a young scientist who was believed to have been bitten by a “stone wolf” (tungsten translates to “heavy stone” in Swedish) which turned him into a Wolfram. Believing that he was dangerous, he was captured and dumped into a live volcano, where he perished.
Tungsten carbide has the highest melting point of all metals and melts at approximately between 2,870°C and 3,300°C and what was found as the remains of the young scientist came to be called Wolfram, as he had turned into a rabid beast. However, this is legend and there is nothing more to it. Tungsten carbide is made through a powder metallurgy process that gives it its unique quality of hardness. Of the many uses tungsten is put to, the best is probably the shiny and awesome rings that are made out of it. The other metals going into the making of a tungsten carbide ring are gold (inevitably), silver, real carbon fibre and a substance called Kevlar, which is strong enough to stop bullets. To make jewellery, only the best grade tungsten needs to be used, and most jewellers add their own secret ingredients, and the secret is guarded jealously. The other ingredients add to the hardness and strength of the rings, without taking away the sheen, which is all important to any piece of jewellery. It is not very difficult to spot a genuine tungsten carbide ring. As tungsten is a lot denser than titanium, hence one can make out the difference while holding a piece of jewellery, or even wearing it.
Tungsten jewellery is heavier than ones made from titanium. The other test is of course the hardness test where tungsten rates between 8 and 9 on the Mohs hardness scale. The colour too is distinct, as tungsten jewellery has a silvery sheen, but the gloss and lustre are quite unmatched. Finally, over a period of time tungsten jewellery retains its original look, with no signs of wear and tear.
Tungsten carbide is actually a judicious mixture of tungsten and carbon alloy, and the mixture is shaken well for it to bind. The hardest known substance in the world is diamond. Tungsten comes a close second according to the Mohs hardness scale, which runs from 1 to 10, and is named after Mohs. Hence a tungsten carbide ring is easily ten times tougher than conventional 18kt gold; probably that is why tungsten is preferred to titanium, which is also used in making jewellery