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For what it's worth -- Titanium


#1

Hi Michael, I use titanium a lot in my jewellery. I make picture
pendants in which I rivet gold figures (like elephants ,birds
etc.) onto titanium plate. I roll the titanium to whatever
thickness or I draw it through my drawplates (it is quite hard!)
When it becomes work hardend then I heat it up to a dull red and
quench it in water-- then it is soft again–it does form an
oxide layer but sand paper takes that off. I heat treat it like
this: First I sand it down to 1200 grit sandpaper, nice and
smooth. Then I polish it with that green polish that is used for
Chrome Cobalt in the dental trade.( sorry the stuff is in my
other workshop in Zimbabwe and I can’t remember the name) Then I
use normal Jewellers Rouge for the final finish. By now I have
a smooth grey mirror finish and burn blisters on my fingers :slight_smile:
Then I clean it very well using pure alcohol, leaving no residue
or fingermarks. Then I heat it up with my torch and slowly it
goes from straw yellow to a deep purple/blue to pale sky blue.
Overheating it makes a dirty grey. This blue is used as
background for my pendants .If you use it in rings or bangles,-
be careful in your design-the blue does scratch off, and
therefore has to be recessed or protected. I also cast titanium
in to various metals. I make a wax model of whatever. Then I
push/melt , say a strip of titanium into the wax… Then I cast
it in the normal manner. After casting, the ring is finished
off in the usual manner , taking care to throw all the filings
into your refining box (because you filed both titanium and
gold the gold is contaminated and can’t be used until it is
refined.) The ring is polished in the usual manner except that
you got to watch out for the gold, that you don’t polish it to
much because the titanium polishes much slower.and therefore the
gold gets ‘eaten’ away… I use my hanging motor to shine the
titanium up with little felt buffs first… After the ring is
rouge’ed up I then heat it to colour the titanium (as above).
While it is still hot, but not very hot, it then is quenched in
a dilute sulphuric acid -I use battery acid with the addition of
about 30% water. That takes care of any oxide on the gold. Then
a soft rouge to shine the gold up . Oppi Untracht says that
titanium can’t be worked in jewellery workshops , but I only
read that afterwards and it rolls well in my normal standard
jewellery rollers Two things, don’t mix gold/silver with
titanium–it’s like getting lead or alminium in your gold. It
also finishes like platinum, in that you got to go through all
the grits of sandpaper–no forgive scratches! Platinum polish
works well too If you going to make a heavy duty piece like say
a 8mm thick bangle (I’ve made several for my self and the colour
lasts suprisingly long, unprotected) then you treat it like
it’s iron–heat it to dull red and it will bend and forge just
like iron.I leave the oxide layer on until I’m finished
forging.then I sand it down. I have inlayed gold silver and
copper into titanium using HSS burrs -(they do go blunt quite
quick–it’s better to use tungsten burrs) for the groove.What
with the blue background, the contrast is quite dramatic. I’ve
also made rings with it and then used the area where the join
is, as a feature,like riveting with different coloured metals If
you annodise the titanium to color it,even if it is highly
polished, the polish is gone, and then it is coloured-- but
matt .The spectrum that can be achieved is broad–I especially
like the apple green I’ve also pave set into it, and it works
like iron . If you blued it before setting, then you’ll get
little grey points where you cut,and that as you cut the oxide
layer, it is a bit harder than the underlying metal and that
causes one to slip easily. I now preset diamonds and then blue
it afterwards.I buy my titanium (scrap, by the kilo) from a
company that fabricates things out of titanium,and the "solder"
that they use is titanium wire–that saves me having to draw it.
Cheers,Hans


#2

Hello Hans!

Just read your post on titanium. Have not used this metal in my
work. You obviously have quite a bit of experience with
titanium. I do recognize knowledge and expertise when I see it,
however. Have you considered publishing a paper on your
techniques? I hope that others will help me direct you to a
proper forum to publish your methods, concerning working with
titanium.

You got my attention when you stated you had set stones in this
metal. You are using high speed steel gravers, or? You have my
attention now. This brings color to bright cut and pave’ that
has so far been impossible in the colored golds. With the
addition of aluminum or iron you get nice color, but have lost
suitable malleability for stone setting. Your brief mention of
pave’ in titanium sounds difficult, but practical. Could you
elaborate?

Thank you, Tim


#3

Tim,

I also have set stones in Titanium for a very long time.
However, I did not mention it in my previous post. Everywhere
you turn you hear that it is impossible, can’t be done. That is
not exactly true. Many have destroyed stones or bits or nerves
trying to do so, but with the proper patience and intimate
knowledge of your metal, it can be done. The bead setting as
mentioned before is probably the most user-friendly method of
setting in Ti. I personally prefer to bezel or flush set in the
material. I have seen riveting techniques, where a small tube of
gold was implemented to hold the gem, and I was quite unimpressed
with this as the “only” means of setting in Ti. If you want the
two tone effect, by all means it is lovely, but to me it was too
easy. So after a few days with sore shoulders, and raw fingers,
I discovered that yes, you can set in Ti. The main setback or
difficulty lies in its extremely springy nature. You push the
edge over, and it bounces right back to where you started. Very
strong arms are recommended, as well as much patience and a
steady hand. I use only very hard materials such as diamond or
corundum, and make sure the faceting is extremely accurate, nice
smooth lines, proper angles, and no damage to the stone prior to
setting. High speed steel gravers are nice in any metal, but
standard gravers work just fine for clean up. There really is
nothing that is impossible, and the next time someone says that
there is, prove them wrong.

Heather Sickler
Intrica Fine Jewelry
http://www.triax.com/~c4wd/intrica