Titanium: how jewelers mastered the chameleon metal
Titanium became known at the end of the 18th century. Its dioxide (TiO2) was discovered independently by the English priest-mineralogist William Gregor and the German scientist Martin Klaproth.
They also owned the first versions of the names: “Menakin” and “Titanium”, respectively. They say that Gregor wanted to immortalize the place Menachen, where he lived for many years. For Klaproth, the association with the ancient Greek titans, who were famous for their endurance and primordial brute strength, was more obvious.
The last comparison is not surprising: titanium is one of the top strongest metals discovered by man. It is several times harder than iron, copper and aluminum combined, and in terms of corrosion resistance it can be compared with platinum.
Despite these amazing properties, titanium is not a rare material. There are 20 deposits of this metal in Russia alone, and, in addition to our homeland, it is produced by Great Britain, China, USA, France, Japan, Canada, Italy, Spain and Belgium. For even greater clarity, let’s look at the list of minerals from which metallurgists extract titanium: it includes nearly 70 items (ilmenite, anatase rutile, brookite, loparite, leucoxene, perovskite, sphene, and others).
It would seem that since there is so much of it, the price should not be exorbitant. However, titanium processing is sometimes more expensive than its cost. It melts at approximately 1670 degrees Celsius and requires particularly robust tools to work with. In other words, not everyone who wants to can do it “taming”. Nevertheless, we were not left without titanium.
At first, as is often the case with know-how, it was used in the military field. Gradually, the range of applications expanded. Nowadays, many things are made from it, from bicycle frames and dentures to reactors and pumps.
Titanium is also involved in jewellery making. French jeweler Joel Arthur Rosenthal (JAR) played an important role in its distribution. In the late 1990s, he sent titanium flower clips to his clients as a gift.
After that, titanium rings with engraving and precious stones, most of all loved by men, were not long in coming. These early experiments gave life to experimentation: a rare designer would not want to create a work of art from ultra-light titanium. Necklaces, bracelets, statement earrings, which would have been too heavy to wear in traditional metals, are no longer hazardous to health. Titanium jewellery became unisex.
Lightness is not the only advantage of titanium. This silvery metal in its normal state can shimmer with all the colors of the rainbow without staining. At high temperatures or under the influence of an electric current, an oxide film forms on its surface, which gives a bright palette: all shades of green, blue, red. And when nitrided, it acquires a golden color.
Melting temperature – about 1668 ° C;
Boiling point – 3227 ° С;
Density – about 4.51 g / cm3;
Thermal conductivity – 22.065 W / (m · K).