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Working with Tungsten in jewelry


#1

Tungsten is a heavier and stronger metal than Titanium. Has anybody
worked with Tungsten in jewelry?

PtP


#2

Not in jewellery, but I have worked with tungsten, not a very
forgiving metal…

Not only is it hard (and I mean HARD), but it is also quite brittle.
It can be bent, but that should be done hot (IIRC @800’C, or at or
just above the Curie point). It will take a nice polish but it isn’t
a truly shiny metal, think more like haematite.

It can be silver soldered or brazed, but in both cases the seams are
overly obvious, side note I’ve never done this though.

It is hard on abrasive tools (the only real way to work it) and
diamond is the better choice in this.

I suppose that as a contrast metal it would work quite well, but you
have to keep in mind the quirks of the stuff, and engineer the piece
to hide any joins etc that you solder.

Well I’m running out of useful info so I’ll leave off here.

Cheers, Thomas.
Janstrom Designs.


#3

While tungsten is quite a bit harder and stronger than titanium it is
not really workable in any kind of fabrication or casting techniques
that are available to a studio metalsmith. Its high hardness and
strength make forming it very difficult. It can only be cast using
very exotic techniques (electron beam melting, consumable electrode
arc melting, etc.) in a hard vacuum or high purity argon atmosphere.
It can be ground to shape using high hardness abrasives but short of
diamond cutting tools it cannot be machined or cut. You can solder to
it but not weld it with anything short of an electron beam or maybe a
laser but its melting temp is 6170F which is very difficult to
achieve and again it must be in a high purity argon atmosphere or
vacuum to make the welds as it readily oxidizes and will burn up in
air. It is also quite a bit more expensive than titanium a 6" x 6"
x.020" sheet of tungsten is close to $600 a similar size piece of
titanium is $15. A good deal of the cost is due to the difficulties
in working it mentioned above as it is not particularly rare. If you
would like to buy some to try out go to http://www.goodfellow.com.

OBTW The jewelry that is currently being marketed as being tungsten
is actually tungsten carbide, a ceramic. It is a sintered product
where tungsten carbide powder that contains some cobalt and nickel
powders to act as a binder are heated under great pressure and high
temperatures to form a bar or tube. It not workable at all and must
be ground to shape.

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550