How can you tell between tungsten cobalt and tungsten nickel rings?
I bought a ring tonight for my fiancé, and he doesn’t know I bought it for him! It is tungsten and I was doing some research to find out if I made a good choice (between tungsten and titanium). But, how can I tell if what I bought contains cobalt or nickel? It’s really a pretty ring, on the inside it says, TUNGSTEN FC (the FC is in a square...and it’s lightly engraved). But how can I tell without waiting to see if he has a reaction or not? Thanks so much for your time!
The FC on the inside of the ring could stand for ‘Forever Carbide’ but it may also refer to the technical process which was used to create the tungsten alloy of the ring. Tungsten rings, and tungsten carbide rings, may contain either cobalt or nickel binders, but there is no way to tell by looking at the rings whether they contain nickel or cobalt.
While people allergic to nickel can have allergic reactions to most nickel metal alloys, like gold/nickel alloys, tungsten and nickel alloys are hypoallergenic. This is because the tungsten binds the nickel so tightly that the nickel cannot react with the skin.
Tungsten cobalt alloys are another matter. Cobalt will cause itchy and irritated skin reactions in people with cobalt allergies, and it is a common irritant for contact allergy dermatitis. Cobalt can also react with the skin, and over time a tungsten cobalt ring can develop stains and spots where the cobalt reactions are taking place.
For these reasons, tungsten cobalt rings are not recommended – even though they are still frequently produced and sold in many jewelry markets.
So how can you tell if the ring you have purchased contains cobalt? The only way is to contact the retailer which sold you the ring and ask them if the ring contains cobalt. Ideally, the ring should be labeled with what it has been alloyed with – and many cobalt free tungsten rings are labeled as ‘cobalt free.’
While the ring you purchased may or may not contain cobalt, it concerns me that this information was not available when you purchased the ring.
At any rate, call the retailer which sold you the ring to double check. If they can’t tell you what type of metal alloy the ring is made from, I recommend returning the ring and finding a tungsten retailer who is familiar with the rings being sold and upfront about the materials used to create those rings.
I hope this info is helpful – and congratulations on your engagement!
Suzanne GardnerEverything Wedding Rings