karen hunter jewellery

About Niobium

Hypoallergenic, Strong and Lightweight


NIOBIUM is a very rare, pure metal which is one of the natural elements on the periodic table {#41}. Titanium and Tantalum are other metals that are similar to Niobium, all are in general use as jewellery materials.

Niobium is good for people who are allergic or sensitive to other metals. Jewellery made from Titanium and Niobium is widely used for body piercing. Jewellery made of these materials is a good choice for people with known metal sensitivities or allergies, as they do not contain nickel. In addition, Titanium and Niobium can be put through an anodizing process resulting in varying colors of jewelry without the use of toxic inks or dyes.

It is slightly more expensive than Sterling Silver, to buy in sheet, wire and tubing form.

Niobium’s unique properties include:

  • hypoallergenic
  • light-refractive
  • very strong
  • light weight


Niobium, a soft, shiny, white metal, is also known as columbium since it was originally discovered in a mineral named columbite. Like tantalum, niobium resists corrosion and maintains good physical properties at high temperatures but offers other outstanding attributes.

Although frequently found in the same minerals as tantalum, niobium is more plentiful in nature. Over 50 million pounds of niobium products are produced each year. The largest market for niobium (85%) is in high-strength, low-alloy steel production where it brings high temperature strength and corrosion resistance to gas pipelines, automobile components and structural steel.

Smaller volumes of niobium are used in superalloys with nickel, cobalt and iron for jet aircraft engine and power generation turbine blades. Specialty niobium alloys are used in superconducting magnets and cable for applications including magnetic resonance imaging for medical diagnostics and particle accelerators for physics research, and in high intensity, sodium vapor lighting applications.

Niobium oxide improves the refractive index of optical glass, allowing for thinner and lighter lenses, advanced optics, camera lenses, and eyeglasses. Niobium and niobium oxides are also emerging as a dielectric material for electronic capacitors.


Niobium was first discovered in 1801 by Charles Hatchett in England, the pure metal was refined in 1861. Niobium’s natural colour before anodizing is nickel-grey. It has a melting point of 2467°C {4475°F} and therefore can’t be soldered, it can only be fusion welded.

The economically most important deposits are in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Thailand, Malaysia and China. In addition there are exploited deposits in Western and Central African countries, CIS countries, Central and South America, Burma and Europe, although Germany (Kaisershuhl), Norway and Finland are interesting from a purely mineralogical point of view.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where does the colour come from? / What is Anodizing?
When jewelry is anodized it is put into a solution and electricity is applied to the solution. This results in a thin oxide layer on the jewelry. The voltage applied determines the thickness of the layer. The thickness of the layer determines what color is produced.

Anodizing {an electrical action} oxidizing the metal to create a rainbow of colours. Different voltages produce different thicknesses of oxide and consequently, different colours.

Will the colour fade?
Because the anodizing process does not use any inks or dyes (these would be toxic to your body), the colors do sometimes fade. Whether the color fades, how much it fades or how quickly it fades is determined by each person’s natural pH and biochemistry. In addition, the amount of friction in the area the jewelry is worn, will also affect the color of the jewelry. Unfortunately, there is no way to determine how quickly, or if at all, the color will change for each person. Jewelry worn in the mouth (i.e., tongue piercings) seem to fade the quickest, due to all the different chemicals that go into our mouths each day. Titanium and Niobium are naturally a slightly dull gray color. If the color of the jewelry changes it may only change to a less vibrant version of the original color, the color may change to a different color, or it may eventually return to the natural color of the material. The color may also not fade in a uniform manner.

Is it dangerous if the color fades?
There is no risk to your health if the color of your jewelry changes. Even if the color of the jewelry fades completely, you are simply left with uncolored Titanium or Niobium jewelry. As mentioned previously, these two materials are very safe to wear in the human body. Niobium can also be re-anodized to regain the color.






Atomic #


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Transition Metal

Crystal Structure


Density @ 293K

8.57 g/cm3