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Old Wives' Tale About Titanium Rings

Old Wives’ Tale About Titanium Rings?

I carry titanium rings in my gallery and I have heard that if
someone is wearing a titanium ring and they break their finger or
their ring gets stuck on their finger, it is nearly impossible to
get it off because of its strength.

And then, I have heard the exact opposite - that this is not true at
all. I need some insight here.

Thank you
Marlene Richey
Richey Jewelry Gallery
15 Wharf . Portland . ME . 04101

EMS has hydraulic ‘snips’ and leverage cutters that chew through
most metals - even titanium. I can see the issue of a ring on a
broken finger being a problem with even a common gold band when
swelling occurs.

Taylor in Toronto

There are a number of grades of titanium from which jewelry can be
made. The most easily cut and worked is still rather tough stuff,
tending to dull cutting tools. But it can be sawed off, tediously,
with standard “beaver” type ring cutters if need be, and certainly,
heavier duty cutters, bolt cutters, or powered cutters, can do it.
Now, there are also harder grades of titanium, which I’ve seen
worked into rings. I know them when asked to stretch or shrink them
in that they simply don’t budge a whit. Can’t bend em, even when one
has cut them, at least not with the normal jewelers tools. Now THAT
stuff might give an emergency worker a tough time, as it would not
only be harder to cut, but would need to be cut in two places to get
it off… But I have little doubt that well equipped emergency rooms
are equipped with more than just hand cranked 'beaver" type cutters.
A diamond edged disk in a dremel type power tool, for example, would
have little trouble, and the sorts of saws they use in surgery, or
cutting casts, and the like, aught to be able to do such things will
little trouble too. Some surgical implant parts, for example, are
made of such alloys too, so they might need to be trimmed or cut in
addition to titanium rings… And Titanium isn’t the only hard to
cut material found in finger rings. Surgical stainless steel has been
used in lower cost class rings for several decades, and that stuff
too, is harder than nails. Emergency rooms generally are better
equipped for such tasks than the typical retail jewelry counter. If
they need to, they’ll find a way to get it off. Just don’t expect
the ring to survive in repairable shape.


I really don’t know about titanium from the jewelry side but I have
machined it on Milling machines both CNC and manual. Although it is
tougher than some stainless steels it should be no problem to cut
with a jewlers saw or maybe even cut with some good nippers if you
have enough leverage with them. I plan on doing some bracelets out of
titanium and will have more info on it later. If you come accross
some info on annealing, cold forming or forging titanium please let
me know. Also if you have any more generic type of machine shop
questions maybe I can help with those.

Good Luck

According to an archive posting to the list, it’s a wives’ tale:

Honestly, paramedics and medical personnel have access to heavy-duty
cutting equipment that can dismantle a car or saw through chain-link
fence posts. In the hospital, titanium is used for many medical
(orthopedics leaps to mind) miracles – they know how to manipulate
it and handle it.

The issue that makes ti so interesting for clients who work with
their hands is that it doesn’t deform in a crushing injury as easily
as more typical metals such as gold, silver, and platinum – thereby
protecting blood flow to the finger. BUT… I always strongly
reinforce that they shouldn’t be wearing ANY ring of any type while
working with their hands around machinery – it’s just too dangerous
in terms of getting caught and pulled.

Karen Goeller
Hand-crafted artisan jewelry

In fact, though titanium is hard and laborious to saw, it shears
pretty easily. I regularly cut sheets of it on an ordinary
school-type paper cutter (the old lift blade type-- effectively
giant scissors) without apparent harm to the cutter. So a shearing
tool such as a bolt-cutter sort of thing should be able to get
through a ring pretty well.



I checked with the staff at our local ER. Most grades of titanium
would not present a problem, but some of the harder grades might. Not
many nurses know what to use to remove a titanium ring, or stainless
steel ring, for that matter. All they have here is a “Beaver” ring
cutter. I would be more concerned with tungsten carbide… no one
that I spoke to knew how to remove a ring that could not be cut with
standard tools.

I would imagine that some ER’s might have a problem, even though a
jeweler may not. In an emergency, seconds count, and it will be a
nurse or intern in charge of removing rings.

Douglas Zaruba
35 N. Market St.
Frederick, MD 21701
301 695-1107

Man, you guys are brave to do the cutting with a saw or pliers or
nippers on a customers finger where the ring is already too tight.

Phew, better man than me

David Geller

510 Sutters Point
Atlanta, GA 30328
(404) 255-9565

In the hospital, titanium is used for many medical  (orthopedics
leaps to mind) miracles -- they know how to manipulate it and
handle it. 

Well - no. The people in the hospitals know how to use the items that
are made of Ti. The designers, engineers, and metallurgists know how
to handle the material, and you won’t find them in the hospitals.


I manufacture titanium rings from 6Al4V aircraft grade, and find
that the material is fairly easily cut with a hacksaw. I had a
customer come by that asked if it could be cut off, so I cut a scrap
one with a hacksaw in about 5 seconds while they took a picture.
They posted on another forum. I have also used a Dremel, ring
cutter, and bolt cutters in the past in experiments. I had a
customer that did have to get one cut off once. She had no problem
and ordered another titanium ring. Titanium has the reputation of
being harder than steel because of its aerospace background, but it
isn’t necessarily so. While it can be hardened to a point where it
would be very difficult to cut, we don’t do that when making rings
for just that reason. A lot of mass produced rings are made from
cheaper Commercially Pure titanium, which is even easier to cut.

Tungsten is a material used in rings that is harder, but the
material starts as powder, so is relatively brittle. A ring made of
it can be cracked off by a hammer or visegrips or something similar
if necessary.

Bruce Boone
Boone Titanium Rings

 I would be more concerned with tungsten carbide.... no one that I
spoke to knew how to remove  a ring that could not be cut with
standard tools. 

Tungsten carbide rings can be fractured with a pair of vise grip
pliers, hard but brittle. Some EMT’s are familiar with this but
obviously not all emergency room folks are from your inquiry.

Jim Binnion

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160

Member of the Better Business Bureau

I have sized a titanium ring up and down about a size even up a
little more. Using a standard ring strecher and compressor. and
have cut them with a jewelers saw, took a while but got it cut to
weld with the laser.


How about the customer who crushed her finger and headed to the
jewellery store to get the ring cut off BEFORE she would go to
emergency because she was afraid the emergency personnel would
butcher the ring removing it. I was the one who got to cut the ring
with a Beaver cutter and pry it off her finger while trying not to
hurt her. A few weeks after this excitement she sailed in happily to
measure her finger so the ring could be resized!


Since all we have here to communicate with is language, I want to
add this about “old wives’ tales”.

The “old wives’” were the wise women who knew about herbal medicine:
the doctors of the day (also all kinds of other professionals).
Around the time of the witch hunts, their knowledge was stolen, they
were put to death as witches and women were forbidden to practice
medicine (and other professions, including jewelers).

Another way besides killing and legislation to marginalize a
population is to put everything they say into a category of mistrust
or ridicule. “Oh, it’s just an old wives’ tale” Think about
it…it says that older women tell lies or untruths or just
silly things. It undermines their words. This perversion of language
to shift power balances and influence thinking is ancient and
continues today. One only has to think of the so called clean air
and water bill being introduced that will increase pollution.

By the way, one of the first mass produced books off of the
Guttenberg press (the first book making machine) was the Malleus
Maleficarum, or “hammer against witches”. The authors were Dominican
friars Jakob Sprenger (1436-1495) and Heinrich Kramer (1430-1505).
The book served as a guide to the Holy Inquisition for more than a
century, with its explicit instructions on how suspected witches
were to be discovered, tortured, forced into confession, tried, and
executed. It directed, by procedures outlined, that the accused
would eventually be found guilty, regardless of evidence. Whole
villages would be found to contain “witches”. Of course the book
also outlined the costs to be levied against said witch, who was
charged for each torture and for her own execution. Any extra
property or wealth was taken as well. It was the greatest "exchange"
of wealth of the time. Women were stripped of their lands, the great
abbesses were no more (Think of the genius of Hildegard Von Bingen
who lived a couple of centuries earlier), their wealth, their
knowledge and their power: all was taken in this brutal, hundred
year war against women.

It may seem like an innocuous little saying, but it’s not, any more
than are racial slurs or defining the people of entire countries as
"terrorists". Used often enough, it defines how we think about
certain groups. Let’s not continue the inquisition in any way.


There’s no way in heck I would do that in my area. I live in a town
that nearly half the people have free attorney services through their
union membership at the auto factories. These people sue if someone
even mentions injury.

Ed in Kokomo

Thank you very much for that, Silani. To avoid using “old wives
tale,” I use the term, “Old Cock and Bull story.”

Another term I avoid is “rule of thumb,” In a college class, a
professor told us that the rule of thumb was that you could beat
your wife with a stick as long as the stick was no wider than your

I don’t have any independent verification of that.

I agree that language matters, thank you for your excellent post on

Elaine Luther
Chicago area, Illinois, USA
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Studio 925; established 1992

Another term I avoid is "rule of thumb,"  In a college class, a
professor told us that the rule of thumb was that you could beat
your wife with a stick as long as the stick was no wider than your

Hi Elaine, folks…

Somewheres I saw an article that actually researched the
phrase…Even went into old English law books and couldn’t find
verification of that either…

Whet they did find was there was a time when folks used their body
parts as measuring devices…i.e. the foot was the King’s foot, etc.

So, a crafter using their thumb as a rule, they were using “the rule
of thumb”…

That seems to fit the feeling of the cliche more, to me at any

Gary W. Bourbonais
A.J.P. (GIA)

Another term I avoid is “rule of thumb,”

Actually, “rule of thumb” can come in handy in specialized
applications. As a volunteer firefighter I was taught to apply the
rule of thumb to hazmat situations. The rule is: If you can’t cover
up the entire scene with your thumb at arm’s length, you’re too

H. D. (Del) Pearson of Designs of Eagle Creek in Beautiful South
Texas, where we are experiencing cool evenings already (at 1 AM it’s
only 78 F).

Hi all,

Just a reference about “the rule of thumb.” It was legal for
husbands in many areas of the Ancient Near East to be able to beat
their wives, using the rule of thumb for the maximum thickness of the


     Another term I avoid is "rule of thumb,"  In a college class,
a professor told us that the rule of thumb was that you could beat
your wife with a stick as long as the stick was no wider than your

I believe your college professor may have been perpetuating an “Old
Wives’ Tale” there. Actually, it would be more of a “New Femnists’
Tale”, since this particular description of it was written by Sharon
Fenick in an online newsgroup in 1996.

Michael Quinion, a gentleman who provides citations and advice for
The Oxford English Dictionary, also concentrates on a web site
titled World Wide Words. Within the site, there is reference to a
far more likely origin of this “rule” but there really isn’t a clear
track of it past the year 1692. Read what he says here:

Most electronics technicians and electricians use the “Left Hand
Rule of Thumb” which illustrates the direction of the magnetic lines
of force an electrical current produces in relation to the direction
that the current travels. Grasp the wire (imaginary, of course) with
your left hand with your thumb pointing in the direction of current
travel, negative to positive. The direction in which your fingers
are is the direction of the magnetic lines of force.

There seem to be many “Rules of Thumb” for many, many things.
Another good one I use is to ignore what they were used for so long
ago and try to understand their meaning in today’s world. There are
plenty of battered husbands in today’s world, I wonder if the "Rule"
applies to them as well (please don’t take that seriously). By the
time I entered boot camp in 1975, Wicca was a recognized religion by
the US military. Nobody will be chastised in this day and age for
their Old Wives’ Tales, those days are long past.

James in SoFl, waiting for Ivan to pass…