If you are familiar with Greek myth, you have probably heard of the Titans. They were powerful Gods who suffered defeat at the hands of almighty Zeus and his fellow Olympians. Then they were imprisoned deep below the ground for all eternity.
If you are familiar with chemical elements, you probably know all about titanium metal. It is a metal named after the ill-fated Greek Titans. Even if you are ignorant about the periodic table, you have likely heard about this metal and its many uses.
Titanium metal has its place in the medical field, is used in aerospace technology, and even in the automobile industry. Titanium goes into everything from race cars to golf clubs to bicycles.
In recent years this versatile metal has gained massive popularity as an innovative facet of modern jewelry design.😊
Titanium earrings, titanium rings, watches, and titanium nose rings are popular alternatives to traditional jewelry made from gold and silver. You can even find a titanium necklace if you want one.
What is titanium?
Titanium is an incredibly sturdy element.
It is also lightweight and boasts a natural silver-white sheen. Titanium is symbolized by the letters Ti on the periodic table. It is also the ninth most abundant element in the earth's crust.
Though it is less dense than most other metals, it is still incredibly tough and durable. Best of all, the metal does not tarnish when exposed to soil, salt, or air. Even if you wear your titanium rings while swimming in a chlorinated pool, they will not deteriorate or tarnish.
This miraculous metal was first discovered by William Gregor in 18th century England. Around the same period, a mineralogist named Franz-Joseph Müller von Reichenstein found the metal in Hungary.
A German chemist, Martin Heinrich Klaproth, first identified and named the metal titanium in 1795 after the Greek titans. Over a century later, William Justin Kroll developed a method that reduced titanium tetrachloride into metal in 1932. That process led to the first commercially-produced titanium, and the process is still the same today.
Where does titanium metal come from?
The vast majority of our titanium supply comes from mining heavy mineral sands. The mineral sands are products of exposed igneous rocks like norite, gabbro, and anorthosite.
Inside the exposed rocks, you will find mineral deposits filled with bookite, leucoxene, perovskite, and sphene.
All of these minerals contain titanium. These rocks are very erosion resistant and do not break down easily in their natural environments.
They travel downstream as silt and then end up in deposits on coastlines by the sea. It is from this final resting place that the minerals get extracted. You can also find titanium mines inland in places where titanium minerals got deposited billions of years ago.
After the sand is collected, it travels to a processing plant where the titanium-rich minerals are recovered and separated. These minerals are processed, and titanium metal or titanium dioxide gets extracted from them.
Commercial titanium is 99.2% pure, but aerospace and industrial-strength titaniums are only 90% pure. They usually contain 6% aluminum and 4% vanadium. In most cases, the metal used to make your titanium jewelry is almost pure but not quite.
In 2021, China was the world leader in titanium mining and production. The nation mined around 3 million metric tons of titanium dioxide last year.
That is three times as much titanium as South Africa, the next leading titanium metal exporter. The third, fourth, and fifth spots go to Mozambique, Canada, and Norway, respectively.
As mentioned earlier, titanium gets produced using the same method William Justin Kroll designed in 1932. In the Kroll process, titanium-rich minerals are treated with chlorine and produce titanium tetrachloride.
The titanium tetrachloride is then purified and reduced using sodium chloride or magnesium. Then it undergoes alloying and melting before being the last step. The titanium gets deposited into a 12,000-pound ingot, where it is allowed to harden and set.
Does titanium rust?
Metals are prone to corrosion and rust because they begin to break down when exposed to wet or acidic environments. Some metals are more resistant to these conditions than others, and titanium is one of them.👍🏻
It can stand extreme exposure to the elements, even salt water. It is one of the strongest, most durable metals available today.
Pure titanium is almost 100% resistant to corrosion and rusting, but pure-grade titanium is also hard to produce. So it is also hard to find. Titanium metal that is not 100% pure titanium is susceptible to rust, though it is still more resistant than other metals.
Does titanium tarnish?
Though titanium metal is rust and corrosion resistant, it is not immune from tarnishing. It needs to be taken care of properly to ensure this does not happen.
Tarnished metal comes from chemical reactions between metal and nonmetal compounds like sulfur dioxide or oxygen. The reaction causes a thin layer of discoloration and dullness to form on top of the jewelry surface, which diminishes its natural shine.
Does titanium have health benefits?
You may have heard that titanium stabilizes your energy levels and helps you stay alert, but this is nothing more than a tall tale.
While some superstitious sports players wear titanium as a good luck charm, there is no scientific proof that titanium works that way. A placebo effect may be powerful enough to make someone feel better mentally, but nothing more.
You can find more unsubstantiated claims about titanium jewelry helping cure pain, increase white blood cells, or heal injuries. Those so-called benefits sound too good to be true.
Unfortunately, they are.
Titanium is not medicinal in any way, shape, or form.
Is titanium magnetic?
Yes, titanium is magnetic. Specifically, it is paramagnetic (or weakly magnetic) compared to other ferromagnetic materials.
The weak magnetism comes from four unpaired titanium electrons. The electrons hinder interaction between moving magnets and the electrical currents naturally found in most metals.
The benefits of choosing titanium jewelry
There are plenty of great reasons to choose titanium metal jewelry instead of traditional metals:
- It will not weigh you down.
- Even though titanium is impressive, strong, and durable.
- It holds its original color and does not face over time.
- Titanium is a low-maintenance metal that does not need time-consuming care.❤️
- Titanium is scratch resistant because it is one of the strongest metals on earth.
- Titanium metal does not bend or stretch out of shape.
- It is very hypoallergenic. Hypoallergenic enough to be used in cases of artificial body parts and joint replacements.✅
- Titanium will not aggravate any skin conditions or stain your skin.
- It is a very affordable choice for jewelry compared to traditional metals.
Drawbacks to choosing titanium jewelry
While you can see there are many different reasons to go with titanium jewelry, there are a few negatives to consider:
- Titanium metal is hard to resize due to its inherent strength. If you want titanium wedding bands, make sure you know your exact ring size.
- The extra sturdiness sometimes makes it harder to engrave or add intricate designs to its surface.
- While many think titanium is a precious metal, titanium is not as valuable as gold, platinum, or silver.
- Titanium has a lot of luster and shine, but it is not quite as striking as other white metals.
- It is often textured and has a matte finish that does not catch the light or sparkle as brilliantly as some other metals.
How does titanium stack up against other alternative metals?
Alternative metals are any metals that do not fall into the traditional precious metal category. The most common types of alternative metals are titanium, stainless steel, tungsten, and cobalt. Below you can find comparisons between titanium and some other popular alternative metals used for jewelry making.
Titanium vs. Stainless steel
Like titanium, stainless steel is corrosion and rust-resistant. It is durable and does not tarnish easily either. You can find stainless steel in lots of kitchen appliances and knife sets. It is also found in tattoo parlors and hospitals in the form of surgical stainless steel. The world-famous Gateway Arch in St. Louis is even made of stainless steel.
Titanium and stainless steel are often compared to each other because of their many similarities. Both metals are flexible and tough, making them ideal for jewelry making. Though they are quite alike, titanium weighs less than stainless steel and is stronger as well.
Stainless steel is cheaper than titanium, but some people might experience allergic reactions to stainless steel, which does not happen with titanium metal. Titanium is also a bit darker in hue than stainless steel.
Titanium vs. Tungsten
Tungsten is not as lightweight as titanium and feels heavier when worn like most traditional metals. Like titanium, it is much cheaper than precious metals. You can find both high-quality tungsten and low-quality tungsten, which creates a wide range of prices to choose from.⚖️
It is a bit less flexible but is still sturdy and strong. Tungsten is also scratch-resistant such as titanium and hypoallergenic as well. Unlike titanium, tungsten can be brittle and jewelry made from tungsten may crack or break under pressure.
Titanium vs. Cobalt
Jewelry made from titanium and cobalt is shatter-resistant, lightweight, scratch-resistant, and doesn't need lots of maintenance for upkeep. They are a bit different in color, as cobalt looks more like white gold and titanium is a bit darker in color.
They are both strong and durable, but cobalt is a bit stronger. Cobalt can better resist scratches compared to titanium too. Titanium and cobalt are both extremely durable and shatterproof. Neither will crack or chip when they are put under stress.
Both metals are lightweight, but titanium is just a little lighter than cobalt. Cobalt is heavier than titanium but weighs less than tungsten.
Titanium vs. Ceramic
Ceramic jewelry is not made out of alternative metal, but like titanium, it is tarnish-resistant, hypoallergenic, and lightweight. Jewelry-grade ceramics are also referred to as titanium carbide. Titanium carbide is durable and trustworthy enough to act as a heat guard on space shuttles.
You can polish ceramic to an impressive shine and it is very easy to clean. It is scratch-resistant too, but unlike titanium, it might chip or crack. It has a smoother, glossier finish than titanium and can be designed in various eye-catching colors.
Anodized titanium jewelry
When metals are covered in a protective layer using an electrolytic process, they are anodized. This causes an oxide layer to form on the outer surface of the metal. This oxidative process can change the color of your titanium jewelry.
The crystalline structure of the titanium is changed when anodized, as is the metal’s texture on a microscopic level. These structural changes create vibrant rainbows of color, and the film that is created when titanium is anodized is much stronger than any paint.
Titanium body jewelry
Implant-grade titanium is approved by the Association of Professional Piercers and is a suitable metal for first-time piercings. It is nickel-free and used regularly for many body jewelry designs. It's wonderful for sensitive skin and helps you avoid uncomfortable inflammation and skin reactions.🤗
Titanium’s strength to density ratio means it is ultra-lightweight but still ultra-strong, so it's not likely to break and works great for piercings. Unlike stainless steel, anodized titanium can be found in many bright, beautiful colors.
Titanium has a naturally silver-white color, but it can change color to a striking, shadowy hue when it gets a black-diamond treatment.😱 It is treated with diamond-like carbon (DLC), which creates a protective layer, making the titanium even more scratch-resistant.
The coating is not made from diamond but is made up of carbon. Carbon atoms bond like diamonds, which gives the diamond-like carbon its name.
Titanium jewelry maintenance and care tips
Alternative metals are generally easier to care for and maintain than traditional precious metals.
Even so, you still have to keep a few things in mind when you are caring for your titanium metal jewelry. With proper care, titanium can last you a lifetime.
- Store your titanium jewelry separately
- Use a soft jewelry pouch or a lined jewelry box to help avoid any scratching.
- Clean titanium jewelry with warm water and mild soap to keep it shiny.
- You can also use ammonia or most jewelry cleaning solutions.
- Also, try rubbing alcohol or acetone.
- If you use a cleaning cloth, make sure the material is soft and not too scratchy.
- If your titanium is scratched, polishing the metal can help smooth it down again.
- Always remove your titanium jewelry when you are doing activities that might cause damage.
- You can try an ultrasonic cleaner on your titanium jewelry that agitates the water and cleans using high-frequency sound waves.
Anodized titanium jewelry maintenance and care tips
Anodized titanium is a little different than regular titanium, and you might need to follow some different maintenance routines to properly care for the colorful metal.
- Avoid harsh chemicals: titanium is resistant to most chemicals, but anodized titanium could lose its color when exposed to chemicals like chlorine.
- If you know you will be sweating, be sure to remove your anodized titanium jewelry.
- Keep any perfumes or makeup far away from your anodized titanium.
- Never use anything but mild soap and water to clean the colorful titanium.
In case of emergency
Because titanium is so strong and durable, you might worry about a ring being removed after an accident or an emergency.⚠️
Never fear! Titanium is a tough metal, but if necessity calls for it, ring cutters will do the job just fine.
Engraving titanium jewelry
Engraving titanium jewelry can be tricky, but not impossible. The process may cost more than traditional metals, depending on where you have it done.
Despite the possible extra costs, you can still get a custom engraving on your favorite titanium pieces if you choose.
Where can I buy titanium jewelry?
Titanium jewelry is very popular, but it is not necessarily sold in as many places as traditional metals like silver and gold.
Some major brands do not offer titanium jewelry options, but many big retail names do provide their customers with a fine selection of titanium metal jewelry and accessories.
The bottom line
Titanium is an amazing alternative to jewelry made from the precious metals you typically see used in jewelry making. 📝Titanium is more affordable, insanely strong, and resistant to scratches, dust, and even scorching temperatures.
Caring for titanium is easy and with regular maintenance, the metal will last a lifetime. This can be especially important for sentimental jewelry like titanium wedding rings for men.
Even though it's much more affordable, titanium is still a stylish and eye-catching metal. Though it is harder to resize, it is still a great alternative metal for making rings, necklaces, watches, and more.
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