Chemical symbol: Zr Pt
Melting point: 1857 deg
Zirconium is great for weddings rings because it is durable and has a strong resistance to corrosion - it is used in a lot of chemical industries where something is needed to contain or transport chemicals. It is so tough and chemically stable that it is used to build nuclear reactors! Zirconium is non-toxic - so much so that it is often used in fillings and other dental work - so is a great metal for those with allergies or sensitive skin..
Zirconium is a fine choice for a wedding ring if you want something a little bit more modern and different.
Zirconium in its original form is naturally grey-white, but black zirconium is popular in the jewellery industry at the moment. The finish is achieved by putting zirconium through an oxidisation process: The zirconium is heated for several hours and it reacts with the air to create a hard, black, coating of zirconium oxide. This black finish is then polished to a high shine, or can be made into a matt finish. The polish finish will be the most black in colour - a satin/matt finish on black zirconium results in a dark gray/graphite colour. No matter what the finish, black zirconium is very resistant to corrosion and scratching.
Zirconium wedding rings are often thought of in the same category as titanium and tungsten carbide. All three are extremely strong, tough and relatively cheap compared to other metals. Compared with titanium, zirconium is more ductile and malleable, which means it is easier to work with and therefore there is more scope for a range of designs.
Zirconium rings are unlikely to tarnish as they are so tough. If your ring picks up any surface dirt, simply wash it in a mild soapy solution, rinse it in cold water and dry with a soft cloth. It's not infallible so it will pick up some scratches from every day wear and tear. These will be particularly evident at first but then dull to a more pleasing patina
Zirconium is not a 'native metal', i.e. is not found in the earth in the form we see it in. Instead, it is obtained from other minerals, usually by purifying zircon with chlorine. This is an inexpensive process ä another reason that zirconium can be so widely used. Its first practical use in history was as the first camera flash that didn't also create smoke - when burned it produces a bright white light. Zirconium is also used in fireworks - it burns as bright as magnesium.