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Tungsten Carbide - Where have we been?


Ostensibly we are a 'wired" group of jewelry “pros” who are “with
it” ! And yet I see no reference to the latest directions in jewelry
wherein the trendiest metals are titanium, stainless steel and
…get a load of this…tungsten carbide !. The latest issue of
National Jeweler delves into these issues and suggests that this may
be the way of the future. It also suggests that wedding rings may be
two tiered with the industrial metals being the first tier (
everyday wear ) and the precious metals being the second .(special

Come on !..Lets get with it ! Tune in or tune out, but know
where the market is going !

P.S. This same issue also has an article on the pros and cons of
market acceptance of synthesized diamonds. I would not be at all
surprised to see an announcement in the imminent future that De
Beers would be entering the synthetic diamond maufacturing realm.

Ron Mills at Mills Gem Co. Los Osos, Ca.


Thanks for bringing up a very timely and relevant topic.

For some (many?) of us, work with metals like titanium and tungsten
carbide may be personally out of reach at the moment due to needed
investments in special equipment (and additional training) to work
with it. Likewise stainless steel, although not as much specialized
equipment is necessary. But you’re quite right that it’s a trend we
need to pay attention to and figure out whether and how to work into
our offerings.

In addition to my work with my original creations, I also stock
manufactured wedding rings. I’ve already advised several customers
to consider a titanium band for their everyday wear, as they are
fellows who work with their hands. The ti is less likely to distort
should an accident happen and may even be a bit protective of the
finger in question in a crushing accident. Of course, I also tell
them that if they’re working with their hands they SHOULDN’T be
wearing rings while working – not that they’ll listen :-).

I’d love to hear from others on the list who have jumped into
working with these new metals, particularly the independent/artisans
who are working in their own studios. Did you find it hard or
expensive to get the new equipment and figure out the new ways of
working? Has it been worth it?

Karen Goeller
Hand-crafted artisan jewelry

Well I’m a precious metals advocate who believes we now may need
three or more categories of jewelry. Please keep in mind I’m being
general here to keep this short

  1. “Fine Jewelry” Made with actual precious metals and genuine
    stones. Gold platinum and high end sterling.

  2. Fashion or costume (forgive the old term) jewelry- made with
    Silver or a less valuable base metal and usually including non
    genuine stones. Usually resembling fine jewelry in color or style.
    Often just base metals made to resemble the real thing. Gold plated

  3. Exotic or Strategic metal jewelry. Titanium, Niobium etc I may
    not have coined the best title here, but my concept is expensive non
    precious metals and often genuine stones like diamonds. Little or no
    attempt to look like fine jewelry. Bill Seeley of Reactive Metals
    fame advocates a semi precious metal category to be created and I
    could not agree more!

  4. Semi exotic jewelry- Exotic metals like titanium but using non
    genuine stones. Would this protect us from *crossover devaluations of
    our products?

The exotics deserve their own category and the buying public
deserves clarity.

*By crossover I mean to avoid confusion among the public “If it has
real diamonds its fine jewelry” Not if those diamonds re set in iron
or titanium it isn’t!

Daniel Ballard

Well I'm a precious metals advocate who believes we now may need
three or more categories of jewelry. Please keep in mind I'm being
general here to keep this short

Hi Daniel,

I am also a fan of precious metals but I must strongly disagree

with your proposed categories. By your definition the crap that is
sold at Wal-Mart and other big box stores would be classed as fine
jewelry but finely made jewelry in other materials would not? I
seems like you are trying to differentiate based on price of the
metals alone. If that is the case why do you include silver in your
fine category? There are many metals more rare and expensive than

IMHO the quality of the work not the cost of the materials should

define whether the work is classed as “Fine Jewelry”


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

Member of the Better Business Bureau

Hi Karen and all,

I’d like also to hear about people working with Titanium. I’m
currently working on a commission: a Jewish salt cellar in titanium
(and other materials). It involves a lot of sawing (Hebrew
lettering) and of course no soldering. As I’m still in the early
stages of designing and making a prototype in copper, I haven’t yet
encountered the “real” problems. I’m looking into the different
possibilities of cold connections (at least 4 sides, as in a pyramid,
have to be joined). I bought some special titanium files but up till
now that’s all. Any advice of people who work with titanium is
very,very welcome! (should I buy special drills, sawblades,… ?).

And I’m going to use a torch to do the colouring. Titanium may be
hard to work with but it sure is a very interesting challenge!

Linda Savineau (Belgium)

Hi All

I have been working in Titanium and silver for some time now. You do
go through more saw blades and joining is a challange but the
effects are wonderful. I use it more as an accent, perhaps a
coloured line between two silver parts, or (really fun) I make a
standard bezel, cut the Ti to fit, texture and colour it and then
set it in the normal way. Drill and saw a bit slower than normal and
you should be fine. I use it to add value and interest to an
otherwise normal-ish design. You can get better colours anodizing
but the expense for me is prohibitive. Get used to the colour
sequence and you can stop the colour where you want it.


I am trying to correlate the relationship between titanium and
tungsten carbide. Two highly different materials, can someone
enlighten me.


I don’t know exactly what you are looking for but tungsten carbide
is used as far as I know primarily for cutting tools and electrodes
for TIG welding. I’m trying to find out some answers about the
working and forging properties of titanium now as a matter of fact. I
plan to use it in knife hilts and pommels as well as some formed or
forged bracelets. and also possibly machining some jewelery on CNC
machinery. Perhaps we can help each other with the research.

Good Luck