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An increasing number of retailers are now carrying tantalum rings, making them among the most popular alternative metals used in men’s wedding bands. Perfect for someone who wants to get off the beaten path, a tantalum wedding band is a unique and attractive choice.
Although new to the jewelry scene, tantalum has been used and prized in a range of other industries. Due to its rarity, luster and durability, tantalum is an excellent choice for a wedding band. Here’s a quick guide to the pros and cons of tantalum.
What Exactly is Tantalum?
Tantalum is mined from various regions around the world, with most tantalum coming from either South America or Australia. It is often found together with nobium as well as the radioactive elements thorium and uranium, and has to be extracted from these other elements. Tantalum is naturally grayish in color with a hint of blue.
Tantalum is used in widely used to create electronic parts such as capacitors and high-power resistors among other things. As the natural sources of tantalum are quickly depleting, experts believe that only about 50 years’ worth of tantalum resources remains. This means that unless new sources are found, primary sources of tantalum will be no more in the not too distant future.
And now for a bit of trivia.
The name tantalum comes from Tantalus, a character in Greek mythology. Tantalus had been doomed to stand in water for all time with enticing fruit hanging over his head, tantalizingly out of his reach. If you’re wondering what the connection is, it’s that like Tantalus, tantalum is also able to be submerged in water without being adversely affected. Bit of a stretch, but still a nice backstory.
What Are the Pros of Tantalum?
Tantalum has many benefits that makes it a very desirable metal for a wedding ring:
- Tantalum Appearance
Tantalum is gray in color and is a little darker than platinum. It also has an attractive luster to it as it is a naturally shiny metal. When crafted into wedding bands, most retailers choose either a matte finish like this ring which highlights the color and texture of the metal or a polished smooth finish like this one which brings out its beautiful luster.
The metal lends itself to numerous textures and finishes and can be combined with other metals for increased durability or beautiful designs.
Tantalum rings look masculine and strong and are ideal for someone who wants something different, unique and eye-catching.
- Tantalum Durability
Tantalum is extremely durable and highly resistant to scratches and breakage. Tantalum is also resistant to corrosion, and will only corrode if exposed to hydrofluoric acid. It is also shatterproof, unlike metals such as tungsten. This makes it ideal for people with busy hands who lead active lifestyles. Even if tantalum bands get scratched, these marks can easily be polished out, leaving the surface lustrous.
Because tantalum does not conduct heat, it is comfortable and safe to wear. It is also an inert metal, meaning that it does not have any reactions to other metals nor does it dissolve in acids.
- Tantalum Price
Tantalum is a scarce and highly valued metal, and this is somewhat reflected in its price. Tantalum wedding rings are not as affordable as tungsten or titanium but are less expensive than platinum. They are generally priced midway between the industrial metals and the precious metals.
However, in some cases, depending on the quality of the craftsmanship, a tantalum ring can actually cost more than a gold or platinum band.
- Taking Care of Tantalum
It is easy to maintain a tantalum wedding band and no special care is required. Simply clean the ring using a mild soap and water when required. If storing your tantalum band, place it in a separate box or pouch to keep it lustrous and scratch free. While tantalum does not scratch or lose shape like some other metals, it can acquire a pattern akin to a patina over time.
- Tantalum is Safe to Wear
One benefit of tantalum is its hypoallergenic nature. It is biocompatible and is not known to cause allergic reactions or to exacerbate skin conditions. Due to this, tantalum has been used for biomedical and dental equipment for a long time. Wearing tantalum directly on your skin will not cause any reactions.
- Tantalum Resizing
A main issue for many people when it comes to rings made of alternative metals such as titanium and tungsten is that it is very difficult to resize them. Tantalum, on the other hand, is very malleable and easily resized. You can go up or down in sizes without too much issue and there is no need to have the ring replaced simply because it does not fit anymore. Because it is so easy to cut tantalum, a tantalum ring is easily removed in an emergency.
What are the Cons of Tantalum?
In practical aspects, tantalum appears to be near perfect as a metal for wedding bands. However, there are a few cons to consider before you choose your ring.
- A Conflict Resource
Not many retailers will announce this, but tantalum is listed as a conflict metal. Tantalum mining in the Congo has helped to fuel the wars there and has been a major source of conflict. There are also ethical and sustainable concerns related to tantalum mining. However, it is important to note that only about 1% of all tantalum production comes from this region, with most tantalum being produced more responsibly in areas such as Australia.
- Limited Designs
There aren’t many tantalum designs on the market at the moment, with almost all tantalum jewelry comprising of wedding bands for men. Coming across quality tantalum jewelry for women is pretty difficult.
- Issues of Prestige
Unlike platinum or gold, tantalum does not carry with it the stamp of prestige and wealth. It is not a classic or precious metal and does not have the history and tradition that comes with wearing, say, a gold ring. It is yet to be seen whether tantalum can last the test of time as a wedding band in terms of fashion and style. However, considering that the primary resources of tantalum are set to run out in half a century or so, tantalum is bound to get scarcer and whether this adds to its value and intrigue remains to be seen.
Where to Buy Tantalum Rings
If you’re wondering where to purchase high quality tantalulm rings, Blue Nile has got a very good collection with an array of designs at competitive prices. James Allen also has a small but high-quality range of tantalum rings that are exclusive.
For more affordable options, Amazon has a wide range of tantalum jewelry at great prices, but due your due diligence and ensure you’re purchasing from a reputable retailer.
We also recommend checking out Etsy, where you’re sure to find a range of artisan, handcrafted tantalum wedding rings in a variety of designs. Etsy offers more options and competitive prices, but due your due diligence and ensure you’re purchasing from a reputable retailer.
FAQs About Tantalum Rings
1. Is tantalum a good ring metal?
Yes tantalum is a good ring for metals, as it’s hypoallergenic, scratch-resistant, and versatile.
2. Is tantalum better than tungsten?
This depends on what you’re looking for. Tungsten is much harder than tantalum, and also more available and less controversial.
3. Will a tantalum ring break?
No, a tantalum ring will not shatter or break. However, it will bend if dealt with a hard blow and can be cut off in emergencies.
4. Is tantalum rarer than gold?
Yes, tantalum is one of the rarest metals and is much rarer than gold or any other precious metal. However, its price doesn’t reflect its rarity.
5. How do you clean a tantalum ring?
Tantalum rings are easy to maintain and only requires a periodic clean with soap and water.
Tantalum is an excellent metal for a wedding ring, but if you’re concerned about where it was sourced from, you can ask the retailer or choose another metal. There’s no compelling reason to choose tantalum over another industrial metal, such as titanium, cobalt or tungsten, but if you’re after low-maintenance, affordability, and rarity, then look no further than a tantalum ring.