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Niobium
Australian Supplier
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.

Color Mixes
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 niobium.

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.