10 interesting facts about Zirconium
Zirconium, which has the chemical element Zr in the Periodic Table, is an intriguing material with many practical uses, including jewelry making. We’ve compiled 10 interesting zirconium facts to shed some light on this unique metal.
- Zirconium was discovered by German chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth in 1789. Klaproth also discovered uranium and was involved in the co-discovery of titanium, strontium, cerium, and chromium
- Zirconium is a derivative of the mineral zircon, the oldest mineral on Earth, dating back more than 4.4 billion years! The name ‘zirconium’ is also related to the Persian Arabic word 'zargun', meaning gold-like.
- Zircon can be found in many colors including blue, yellow, green, orange, red and occasionally purple.
- There's a star in the sky that sparkles like a diamond, due to vast amounts of zirconium in its atmosphere. Zirconium has also been identified in the sun and meteorites.
- More than 1.5 million tonnes of zircon are mined each year, mainly in Australia and South Africa, though it is found in many other countries.
- Zirconium has many practical applications and is commonly used in corrosive environments such as pipes, fittings and heat exchangers. Zirconium is also used in the manufacturing of catalytic converters, furnace bricks, television glass, ceramics, and lamp filaments, amongst other things.
- Zirconium also has an essential role in nuclear engineering, primarily because of its excellent corrosion resistance. It was first introduced to the industry in the late 1950s and today is regarded as the proven structural material for nuclear fuel cladding in light water reactors.
- The average human body contains 250 milligrams of zirconium. Most of this comes from natural foods including whole wheat, brown rice, beef, eggs and spinach. Zirconium is also present in some consumer products like deodorants.
- Zirconium is commonly used in jewelry making because of its beauty and durability. It’s also an ideal material for people with skin allergies because it is virtually pure and contains none of the irritants often found in other metals
A black zirconium ring with Hawaiian koa wood offset inlay
- The black finish seen on black zirconium rings is achieved by a process of oxidation, whereby the zirconium is heated for several hours, after which it reacts with the air to create a hard, black, coating of zirconium oxide.