Looking for black rings and wedding bands? We got you covered!
When it comes to jewelry, we often think of classic materials like gold, silver, and platinum. The trend for unusual colors, particularly black, has created a demand for alternative metals that can achieve those colors. Many of my clients have been asking for black wedding rings, but I couldn’t find a reliable way to do it.
Traditional metals can't reliably deliver the desired black result. Black oxidation on silver or gold tends to wear off easily, and black rhodium plating on gold (commonly found when you see "black gold") also doesn't last long since it's only a very thin layer of plating on the surface.
Eventually, metals like tungsten, titanium, and others began to evolve in the second half of the 20th century. Titanium can display various colors, but its "black" tends to be closer to gray. Tungsten and many other materials can only be machined and cannot be worked by hand due to their extremely high melting points and hardness.
As a result of this research, during the 1960s and 1970s, a period of experimentation in the jewelry industry, several independent designers began working with niobium.
Have you heard of niobium?
Niobium is a pure chemical element with the symbol Nb. It was discovered around 1734 by the first governor of Connecticut, John Winthrop the Younger. Niobium today has a wide range of industrial uses and is an important addition to high-strength low-alloy steels. It holds significant value in welding, the nuclear industry, electronics, optics, and the space industry.
It's a rare, silvery-grey metal, mostly mined in Quebec (Canada) and Brazil. One of niobium's most appealing qualities is its hypoallergenic nature. Unlike many other metals commonly used in jewelry, such as nickel among other alloys, niobium is non-reactive and does not cause skin irritation or allergic reactions.
What also makes niobium special is its exceptional resistance to corrosion and tarnish.
Niobium can be anodized, a process that involves applying an electric current to the metal to create a thin oxide layer on its surface. This oxide layer can be dyed in a wide array of vibrant colors, giving jewelry designers the freedom to create pieces in virtually any hue imaginable. From deep blues and rich purples to elegant blacks, niobium allows for endless creative possibilities.
When niobium is treated to be black, it’s a permanent black color, it doesn’t wear off with regular daily use.
Why you don’t see a lot of niobium jewelry
Despite all the virtues described above, niobium jewelry is not commonly seen. Why? It's challenging to work with and comes with numerous limitations. Specifically, when it comes to creating various shapes and setting gemstones, niobium presents unique challenges. You can't solder it using conventional methods, and if you wish to set gemstones, it demands specialized skills. Wondering why you don't come across many black niobium rings set with diamonds? Well, now you will see more at LOFT.bijoux!
LOFT.bijoux partnered with Montreal-based artist (jeweller and gemmologist) Christine Dwane on creating an edition of black niobium rings set with black diamonds and reclaimed colorless diamonds. Initially they were designed as wedding bands, but experimental trials showed that they work perfectly just as stacking rings, as well. We can make them with or without gemstones. Discover them soon in our online shop! Black niobium rings handmade in Montreal, global shipping is available.