What is black zirconium?

Published: 02nd December 2010
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Zirconium is an element and a metal very similar to titanium. As a matter of fact, you canít tell a difference by looking at them. It is slightly heaver than titanium, but not as heavy as stainless steel. It has a unique property of being able to be turned black. It is machined from solid bar the same way titanium rings are made from solid titanium.
Some rings are made from something called Black Titanium. Itís a proprietary alloy of one large company, and itís actually an alloy of mostly zirconium with a little titanium thrown in for good measure. It has more to do with marketing because people recognize the term titanium, and not so many recognize zirconium. Itís the zirconium that turns black; titanium doesnít do that. The method and process are exactly the same. My rings are crafted from pure zirconium and then blackened.
The blackening process is interesting. The raw ring is the color of titanium or stainless steel, and it gets heated to high heat in a specific atmosphere. When this happens, zircon, a clear ceramic coating floats to the surface. The color changes to bronze, then to blue, then to yellow and other colors as the heat increases. The color is caused by interference of light waves, the same way that oil on a wet parking lot gets its colors. Constructive interference of the lightwaves creates a very pure blue and other colors. As the heat increases, a second order of colors is formed over the first. Then a third and fourth and more is added. As the oxide layer gets thicker, the wavelengths of light reflecting off the surface start destructively interfering, until nothing is left but a shiny black surface. It has the look and slippery feel of Hematite. It is an extremely inert surface, and zirconium is used in artificial knee joints for that reason. The surface is also pretty hard, at a Mohs hardness of 8.4, where diamond is 10 and titanium is 6.5 and gold is around 3.
Because zirconium is a strong metal, special designs like any of our tension sets can be made in it. There is also the possibility of lasering through the oxide to create engraved or colored effects. The imagination is the limiting factor on whatís possible. We also do our exclusive continuous inlay rings featuring inlays of hardwoods, meteorite, stone, and acrylics.






Check out some of the possibilities of Black Zirconiumon our BooneRings page: http://www.boonerings.com/color.htm
www.boonerings.com is a leader in the manufacture of black zirconium. Please visit their site to see the possibilities of titanium made into attractive pieces of art.

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