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The dirty secret of popular handmade ring makers

Updated: Aug 6, 2023

So many mass advertised handmade ring makers love to sell their customers on the hardness and scratch resistance of tungsten and ceramic rings, while touting their handmade bona fides. A typical inlaid tungsten, tungsten carbide or ceramic ring from a custom maker goes for around $300. I'm here to show you that it might be worth that much if the inlay channel is filled with solid 24k gold. The best cutting tooling for the average non-aerospace/defense contractors lathe is tungsten carbide. Pardon my skepticism, but how pray tell does one cut a material with the same material? Short answer; you don't. Ceramic is possible to be worked with tungsten carbide tooling, but prone to chatter, leaving a surface you'll likely never return to original luster. But more likely, you just aren't patient enough and shatter your piece, the cutter, or both. Tungsten, tungsten carbide, and ceramic forms are made by a process called sintering. Sintering is like a hybrid between powder coating and casting. These materials come out of the mold exactly as they arrive at your door. The maker simply glues some stuff in the channel, sands it down, and polishes it. Now, you may be saying, "Well Brendan, $300 sounds reasonable. Surely such exotic material isn't inexpensive." Oh my sweet summer child...

As you can see, at the wholesale level, that $300 will buy nearly 100 ceramic or nearly 500 tungsten pre-fabricated Chinese made blanks. "But what about a maker that is getting these 'blanks' one at a time? Surely, that is more costly." That is correct, that $3.50 pre-fabricated band goes for about $15.00 retail. Don't believe me? You're already on the internet. Copy and paste tungsten inlay channel blank into your browser. "But certainly these bands are more durable than other materials." You're partly correct, these bands are incredibly hard and unlikely to ever scratch. The Taoists knew long ago, if you don't bend, you break. Like many incredibly hard things, they are BRITTLE. Even the lightest impacts can crack, chip, or even shatter these materials. "But this maker offers a lifetime, no questions asked warranty on these bands." Of course they do. Didn't you see that they got nearly 100 of them for the price you paid? Maybe they are more in the one at a time category. That guy only got 15 of them. If you insist on a ring made from these materials, Look at Etsy. Skip the middleman and get one out of China for like $30. Like George Carlin said, the person who coined the term "buyer beware" was probably bleeding from the *erhm* posterior.


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