How can you tell between tungsten cobalt and tungsten nickel rings?

by Desirae
(Kress, Tx)

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!

Hi Desirae,

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.

Tungsten Men's Fashion Ring

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 Gardner
Everything Wedding Rings

Comments for How can you tell between tungsten cobalt and tungsten nickel rings?

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tungsten F C
by: katie

I have just found a Tungsten FC wedding band last night on the river bank and just started looking it over and it is real silver in color on the inside but I don't know what the color on the outside is. I was going through the pictures on the web and thought I seen one that looks just like it

I disagree
by: Anonymous

I've tried several Tungsten Carbide rings, both black and silver, and had Nickel reactions from all of them.

I would love to find where to buy Tungsten Cobalt rings.


If you are having reactions to Tungsten Carbide rings it may have been due to poor quality rings, your best bet from your reactions is not to find a tungsten cobalt ring but just stick to cobalt chrome wedding rings - remember to avoid any rings with plate (not only can the plate cause reactions but it will eventually wear off), however cobalt chrome wedding rings can still contain nickel, take a look at our page for nickel free cobalt chrome wedding rings.

Tungsten Cobalt Carcinogenic
by: Anonymous

Just as a friendly warning, under no circumstances consider a tungsten-cobalt alloy ring. While nickel-bonded tungsten carbide is perfectly safe, and when of decent quality, hypoallergenic (I myself have worn one for several years and am severely sensitive to nickel), tungsten-cobalt has been found to be a carcinogen due to the cobalt content. It was removed from the American military's lead-free bullets in 2009. Here's a link to an article about this subject from a reputable website in the materials science industry:

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