Q: What is the Make-o-Meter?
A: A new pilot project
I'm always trying to improve the transparency around the products I make and sell. The makeometre is something I'm working on to help my customers understand at a glance what they may be getting from a product. I'm hoping to make it something like a neighbourhood walkability score, but for buying locally produced and handmade goods. It's in its infancy right now, and I haven't formalized the details and criteria on it, but I hope to soon.
Q: Why does my titanium jewellery not look as bright as when I first bought it?
A: It might need a quick clean.
The most likely culprit for your jewellery looking dull is skin oils built up on the surface. Titanium is tough, but it still needs to be cleaned from time to time. Try washing it with a dish soap and a gentle brush (old toothbrushes work great) and warm water. Dry it with a soft towel and it's ready to wear again. DO NOT use chemical cleaners or metal polishes because they are not meant for reactive or anodized metals and may remove the colour.
Q: Why do you use titanium and not other metals like copper, brass, steel, and silver. I see other jewellers using those metals.
A: While I work other materials in occasionally, I prefer to work with titanium. In my opinion, titanium may be one of the best metals in the world. Here's a few of the advantages:
Tarnish resistant: Unlike copper, brass, and silver, titanium tarnishes very slowly. Bare titanium will hold a polish for an extremely long time, and over time may exhibit only a mild discolouration, ranging from a light yellowing to a slight greying. Given normal wear conditions, this may not happen for as long as you wear your jewellery. The most you can ask out of the other metals is about six months.
I've been wearing the same bracelet for 7 years, almost every day.
The thing still looks like the day I made it. It may even be more polished.
Corrosion resistant: Believe it or not, the human body is actually incredibly corrosive. It can discolour or even deteriorate lesser metals over time. Not only that, but jewellery can be subjugated to many corrosive materials, in places you may not expect. The chlorine in tap water is a good example. Titanium is extremely corrosion resistant. So resistant, in fact, that it is used to store nuclear waste (not the same titanium I use... that would be gross). If it can stand up to that, imagine what else it can do.
Extremely high strength-to-weight ratio: Titanium is widely used in outdoor and hiking gear, sports equipment, aerospace, marine, industrial, architectural, and automotive industries. Even in its pure, unalloyed form, it is stronger than some steels. It actually has the the highest strength-to-density of all metallic elements.
Hypoallergenic: The proper term is "biocompatible". Titanium is used in the medical field because most people don't react to it. Many people have allergies to base metals like nickel, copper, and brass, but very few have an allergy to titanium. It is also seeing increased use in the piercing and body jewellery market for the same reason.
Non-ferromagnetic: Titanium isn't magnetic. That's a feature that doesn't come up frequently, but it can be helpful sometimes.
Reactive: A bit of a scary term, I know, but it just means that you can make it pretty colours. Titanium can be coloured using a process called anodizing. It's something that most other metals, such as silver, gold, copper, and brass, cannot do.
Unless I'm making mokume-gane or housewares, I avoid base metals like copper and brass. Silver is good, but I think titanium is a nicer grey colour that compliments other luxury metals, like gold, very well. Plus, titanium is just fun to say. Titanium was named by the chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth for the Titans of ancient Greek mythology. So basically it's the metal of the Titans.
Q: You know all those things things you just said? Well if titanium is that wonderful, why don't more people use it in jewellery?
A: Titanium is a bit of a specialty. Its high strength is both an asset and a problem. It destroys tools such as files and saws. It only bends well under heat, and sometimes not even then. It is difficult to clean and polish. It is pyrophoric (meaning it can light itself on fire in oxygen-rich environments), and on top of its extremely high melting temperature, it has to be cast in an oxygen-free environment. Perhaps most limiting of all is that it can't be soldered (or brazed) like most other metals traditionally used in jewellery. Like every material, it has its advantages and drawbacks. With enough skill, practice, and the right tools, anyone can use any material.
Glyph Morse Code Pendant Questions
Q: Can I get it in red or orange?
A: Unfortunately, no. Titanium is coloured through a process called anodizing. This is where the molecules of the metal's surface are realigned using medium to high voltage electrical currant, or careful application of heat. Check the Electric Rainbow for available colours.
Q: Why only ten letters? I want to say more!
A: I have to limit the pendants to not more that 10 letters because of the way that morse code is structured. When Samuel Morse et al. developed the language, they looked at which letters were most common in the English language, and assigned them the shortest value (E being a single dot). As the letters became less commonly used, they were allotted to the longer values (J, Q, and Y all being some combination of three dashes and a dot). So basically, if your pendant has a lot of letters like E or T in it, you can likely fit more than ten letters. However, if it has a lot of Z, X, V, or other long letters in it, you make be hard pressed to even fit ten. So for simplicity sake, I capped it at ten.
If you want more, we can do that, but it may mean a custom order of multiple pendants.