Titanium urban legends resized and cut to pieces

There are a couple of myths circulating about titanium wedding rings. These false tales are believable because of, quite accurately, titanium’s incredible strength.

Titanium rings can be resized

The first legend concerns whether or not titanium rings can be resized. Even competent goldsmiths will shy away from attempting to change the size of rings made from titanium. Rather than tell the customer they have no experience working with titanium, they’ll comment that it just cannot be resized. Even some of the titanium ring manufacturers will not resize their own rings—so much for customer service.

I’ve made titanium wedding rings since 1991. Because I’m committed to being a full-service jeweler, I was motivated to figure out how to resize titanium rings. Finger sizes can change over the years; yet the original ring is still cherished or was blessed at the wedding ceremony so starting anew is not always an option.

To increase the size, I mill out the inside. Of course if the ring is too thin to begin with, then I can only increase the ring by about a size and a half. The increase of one full size will reduce the thickness of the ring by 16/1000’s of an inch. So, generally speaking, most rings can be enlarged to a fair degree.

Reducing the size is somewhat more involved. I mill a titanium sleeve and then pressure-fit the sleeve into the ring with a hydraulic press; then I finish the edges so that it is often hard to tell anything was added. This will increase the thickness of the ring, so one full size will add 16/1000’s of an inch. I’ve used this method to reduce a ring by three sizes.

Titanium rings can be cut off in an emergency

The second myth involves titanium rings not being able to be cut off in an emergency. It doesn’t take too much blunt force trauma to cause a finger to swell. A customer told me it was just a basketball hitting the tip of his finger that was enough to have the ring become a tourniquet.

I think this urban legend must, in part, come from the novel and movie The Abyss. As I recall, the hero uses his titanium ring to stop hydraulic doors from closing. Or perhaps the legend is a result of often-repeated chestnut that titanium is the strongest metal of all.

OK, here is the truth: titanium rings can be cut off with standard devices that all emergency rooms have on hand.

I was a goldsmith first and when I started making titanium rings, I used the very same saws, files, punches and lathe cutting tools on the titanium that I used on gold. Some alloys of titanium are harder than the pure titanium we use, but all can be cut off as a last resort, if needed.

These are tall tales indeed—yarns spun of pure ignorance. Time to table these fables.

Chris Boothe