AussieMaille.Com is now carrying a selection of my niobium rings.
If you're in Australia buy from them!
Niobium is a reactive metal - element #41. It's called "reactive" because if you pass
an electrical current through it, the surface of the metal changes color. There are no dyes
involved, it's all a natural reaction of the metal.
Single Color Batches
Twenty shades of gleaming, shiny, iridescent yum. Please remember that different batches will be slightly different colors
(like dye-lots for yarn) so be sure to get enough to complete your project. If you do run out and want to
get the closest possible match, please send me sample rings to match. Once you actually purchase the rings
they're yours forever, so check first if you need to match a particular shade.
If you can't make up your mind which color you want, get a mix! The mixes contain more shades of color
than are available in the single-color batches. When I'm making a mix I bring the whole batch up to the
bottom color and then scoop out a few rings at a time as I slowly raise the color. I scoop several times
between each "official" color, so you'll get lots of in-between shades. Great for color fades or
festive confetti effects.
But how does it work?
The current flowing through the metal causes a layer of oxide to form on the surface. Metal
oxide is usually something we try to avoid - rusted iron, tarnished silver, etc. But niobium
oxide is clear, forming a transparent film on the surface of the metal. When white light strikes that
clear film we see color because of an effect called "light interference." Half the light bounces off
the top of the film, and half the light bounces off the bottom of the film. When the light recombines
with itself, the light waves interfere with themselves and partly cancel out. Whatever is left
after the interference isn't white light any more, it's colored light.
You can see the exact same effect in soap bubbles or oil floating on water. The varying thickness
of the film (soap or oil) is what makes the varying rainbow of colors. I love physics! *grin*
How tough is the color?
It's tough enough for calm jewelry wear, but not tough enough for making sand angels on the beach.
If the surface of the metal gets scratched off, the color goes with it. So treat your niobium
jewelry kindly and you'll be just fine. You may find it helpful to refer to my
FAQ page for some more information on working with
Why don't you sell red/black/orange niobium?
Red, black and orange are colors that just don't happen in the interference spectrum. You can get
red and orange from the refraction spectrum (think rainbows or sun-catcher prisms) but not
from interference. (No really - I do love physics!)
Color #55 (golden, sometimes apricot) could
possibly be described as light orange. Color #20 (deep purple/blue) is the closest match
that I sell for black. Color #65 (vivid pink/purple) is arguably close to red, but not really.