Ion Plating: How Tungsten Jewelry Gets Its Color
WHAT IS ION PLATING AND HOW IS IT BETTER?Any colored tungsten carbide ring other than its natural silver color is achieved through a process called ion plating. This is true for all tungsten jewelry in the world. Ion plating is a process by which a surface is bombarded with atomic sized energetic particles in a vacuum to deposit a hard coating of compound materials that results in a desirable color. The process is vastly superior to traditional "wet" plating methods (like electroplating) due to its increased bonding strength.
THE TRUTH ABOUT PLATING: HOW COLOR AFFECTS HARDNESSIon plating, while more difficult to scratch than traditional gold or silver, is not as scratch resistant as the underlying tungsten. Plating can be damaged through contact with an abrasive surface or substance, chemicals, and hard surfaces (metal, wood, tile, etc). Plating can also be damaged by frequent exposure to hard water, or repeated contact with moderately hard surfaces such as a computer mouse or the inside of a glove.
For these reasons, we recommend removing plated tungsten rings before doing such activities as: handling metal objects, going to the gym, playing sports, entering water, and washing dishes or hands. We understand that this can seem like an inconvenience, but it is no different than wearing a traditional gold or silver ring. Rings such as these should be treated with attentive care.
LOOKING FOR A BLACK RING? READ OUR RECOMMENDATIONIf you are interested in a black band, we generally recommend looking into black ceramic as opposed to black tungsten. Ceramic is just as strong a material as tungsten but the color is not plated so it does not have this issue. Scratches on black ceramic are hard to discern because they will be black. This is why you will see that most of the black rings that we offer are made from ceramic.
The most common instance where we recommend black tungsten over black ceramic is for laser engraved rings. Due to how ceramic reacts to the laser beam, the engraving is "burned" into the material similar to wood, resulting in a black color. This causes the engraving image on black ceramic to appear as black on black. Black tungsten, however, reacts marvelously well to the laser beam as the black plating layer is precisely removed by the laser, revealing the natural silver tungsten layer beneath and yielding an attractive silver on black appearance. The superior results with laser engraving on plated tungsten over ceramic is why you will see that all of our black laser engraved rings come in black tungsten instead of black ceramic.
READ THIS BEFORE YOU PURCHASE ROSE GOLD TUNGSTENIf you are interested in a gold or other color band, unfortunately this type of color cannot be achieved with ceramic. All tungsten, titanium, or stainless steel that is gold in color is achieved through plating of some sort because gold is not the natural color of these metals. This is true whether you are looking for a watch with a gold metal band, a designer purse with gold metal clasps, or a gold ring. We understand that customers who are interested in this color like the traditional look of gold jewelry but appreciate the durability of tungsten carbide. An excellent compromise is, and we consider it hardly a compromise in our opinion, ion plated gold tungsten.
To achieve the authentic gold and rose gold color seen on our tungsten carbide rings, we use real gold powder. The amount is not sufficient to warrant a karat rating, but enough to a mimic the appearance of real gold without most of its accompanying drawbacks.
Unfortunately one of the biggest drawbacks of gold can manifest itself in gold plated tungsten rings, specifically rose gold. Because we use real gold powder to plate our rings, we are at the chemical mercy of gold's natural properties. Moisture is gold's greatest enemy and can cause gold to change color. We have observed that rose gold plated rings can change color depending on how much moisture it is subject to. You can prevent this problem from occurring by keeping the ring dry as much as possible. A typical hand washing is not going to affect the color as the ring will quickly dry, but wearing your ring while, say, sleeping next to a humidifier on a nightly basis can cause rose gold to gradually lose its "rosy" hue over time. We wish we could bypass these natural properties but these laws were put in place by nature and it would actually be quite unnatural any other way. Please keep this expectation in mind when purchasing a rose gold tungsten ring from us. This natural color-changing reaction to moisture is not limited to our rings but is true of any rose gold tungsten ring you encounter. What's not true is how upfront another jeweler will be about this, which brings us to our next point.
100% HONESTY IS OUR POLICYWe believe in providing our customers with the complete and upfront truth regarding our products, something that you likely will not find at other jewelers. Unfortunately too many establishments in our industry have eagerly propagated the myth of unscratchable, indestructible tungsten carbide in the public's eyes when it is simply not the case. We're not here to promise one thing and deliver something else altogether just to make a quick sale. In fact, we would rather not have prospective customers make a purchase at all if they take issue with anything presented here. We consider it our duty to clearly set your expectations when it comes to our jewelry. We believe that properly managed expectations are better both for us and for our customers as they reduce customer returns. A knowledgeable, informed customer fully aware of expectations is a win for us and a win for the customer. Disappointment, low customer reviews--we realize these stem from a gap between expectation and reality. It is our mission to eliminate this disparity as much as possible so that we can provide the smoothest, most pleasant experience for our customers.
IN SUMMARYBlack tungsten, gold tungsten, and rose gold tungsten are ion plated for color, a process that occurs at a molecular level and is thus more durable than other colorization methods.
Plated tungsten rings are still highly scratch-resistant (comparable to titanium in hardness), but not as resistant as natural silver tungsten carbide.
We recommend black ceramic over black tungsten except when purchasing a ring with a laser engraving.
Rose gold tungsten can change color and lose its rosy hue when exposed to prolonged moisture: a natural and thus unavoidable physical property of the real gold powder used in our ion plating process.
An informed customer is the best customer.