Our first blog post! Woohooo!
I have been putting off starting this blog since we debut the new website. Partially because of writers block, but also because we are so busy here.
For our first blog post I thought I would address the question we seem to hear the most. Here it is in a nutshell -
"I see Tungsten Carbide rings all over the internet and in stores. Why is there such a wild difference in price? I mean c'mon, could they really be that different?"
Hey! I get it! I am the same way!
So let's break it all down.
Tungsten Carbide 101 | What is Tungsten Carbide?
In science, hardness is measured using a Mohs scale of 1-10. 1 being the least hard while 10 is the hardest. A diamond scores a 10 on the Mohs scale making it the hardest surface in the world. Tungsten Carbide scores a 9, making it the hardest metal on earth.
The hardness factor of Tungsten Carbide makes it very attractive as a wedding band as it will wear very well and not scratch, unless of course it comes across a diamond.
Combining Tungsten and Carbon to create Tungsten Carbide requires a "binder". Something to bind the Tungsten and Carbon atoms together. The two most common binders used are Nickel and Cobalt. More about this later...
The Difference Between Cheap and More Expensive Tungsten Rings.
Tungsten Carbide - Jewelry Grade VS Industrial Grade
Less expensive Tungsten rings can be made from a industrial form of Tungsten using Cobalt or another type of material as the binder.
While the ring may look the same as the one you saw at the jewelry store when you purchased it online, 3 or 4 months down the road the ring has taken on a dark cast and seems to have discolored in places.
Industrial Tungsten Carbide is excellent for machine applications, etc, but for jewelry? Eh... Not so good.
Jewelry grade Tungsten Carbide is bound with Nickel and will retain it's look and luster for the span of time. Most industrial Tungsten Carbide is bound with Cobalt which has a wider allergy profile than Nickel and could cause discoloration over time.
This last point brings me to my next. Warranties and guarantees. So you are thinkin', maybe that $15 El' Cheapo on Ebay is the same as the Tungsten Carbide ring at Zales for $250. You figure what do I have to lose? Well.. $15 to be exact..
So let's say you do purchase El' Cheapo from stayinalive2012 on Ebay. It comes, and it seems pretty nice. Much nicer than you had expected for $15. You put it on and wear it proudly. Well, as proud as you can feel wearing a ring that cost less than an average lunch for two at McDonalds. ;-)
Now let's also say that somewhere down the road, could be a week, a month, or a year, the ring breaks, or the plating wears off prematurely, or any number of things that may happen, even to the highest quality of ring..
Where do you turn? Is there someone you can call, email, or hit up on Live Chat? Is there some sort of warranty or guarantee?
Trust me, El' Cheapo has a 90 day warranty in most cases, if at all... And only against manufacturers defects (which is sort of objective isn't it?).
Look for a strong guarantee in case there is ever a issue with you purchase.
As for judging craftsmanship when shopping for a ring online, many times there is very little that you can discern from a picture on the internet.
Many online retailers will use stock manufacturer pictures on their websites, that are obviously taken under controlled conditions, to show the rings at their best.
It is easy to understand that retailers want to show your products in the best light and with the best photographs. But again, how do you judge when the picture looks nearly identical and the prices are so vastly different?
REVIEWS! That's right. Short of holding the actual items in your hand, you will just have to take others word for it. That is not bad, however, as it will give you multiple, personal viewpoints of the product and better help you make a purchasing decision.
Most times reviews of individual products can be found on the websites, on the company Facebook page, as well as other places.
Do your due diligence regarding quality. It is worth the time spent and you will be happy you did later.
Country Of Origin
While geographic location does not determine the level of quality, it can certainly determine the price.
Tungsten wedding bands are manufactured in the US, China, Korea, etc. Labor and importation costs vary across the board. This, of course, can affect pricing.
A Tungsten Carbide band made in the USA is going to cost more than one made in Asia because, simply put, manufacturing costs are higher here.
Quality VS Price
I want to close with a little story I told my son once about quality and price.
My teenage son was looking to buy a pair of shoes for work. He was working as a busboy at a local restaurant and needed a pair of no slip shoes.
Since he was spending HIS money, he of course wanted to buy a cheap pair.
I explained to him that, when it came to shoes, you should not skimp. My reasoning was this. You can look at 2 pairs of shoes, one costing $39 a pair, the other costing $99. These pairs may LOOK identical to you, but wearing them you will appreciate a difference in comfort and durability.
That $39 pair may be OK for a while, but eventually the sole will wear out prematurely, or the back will break down because it is cheap cardboard (he was not big on tying and untying his shoes), or they will just simply fall apart within a year. Especially with the physical stress of his part time job.
The $99 pair, although more expensive, would actually last much longer and be more comfortable for the time he had them.
In the end he would have to buy 4 $39 pairs to last the time the $99 pair would last.
I said "you are SAVING money by buying quality and enjoying a better pair of shoes to wear in the process!".
Well he bought the cheap pair.... They lasted just under 4 months before the heel ripped out...
He bought the $99 pair the second time around and he has worn them for over a year and a half. Still look pretty good in my opinion, the backs have not broken down, nor has he learned to untie his shoes when he takes them off.
Some things never change.....
Till next time!