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Should I buy a tantalum ring?
Is tantalum right for me?

If you’re looking for something a little different, have an active lifestyle, then tantalum could well be the metal for you. Tantalum is new to jewellery in the UK. It has been available in America and Australia for a while and is extremely popular there. Tantalum is a rich blue-grey in colour with a masculine appearance. It has the weight of platinum but at a fraction of the cost. It doesn’t appear to scratch and mark as much as many other metals. When it does, it can be polished back to its original state. Tantalum can be sized, doesn’t shatter and can be cut off in an emergency, unlike many modern, alternative metals such as titanium and tungsten. Tantalum is a rare metal – it’s thought there is possibly only 50 years worth of tantalum left in the world.  

What are the pros and cons of tantalum? Read on to find out.  

A bit about tantalum

Tantalum is a metal that’s been widely used in many industries including electronics and healthcare since around 1940. It’s part of the mineral group tantalite and was first discovered by Swedish chemist Anders Ekeberg in 1802. Ekeberg, was also an expert in Greek literature, decided to call the metal tantalum after the Greek god Tantalus, partly because he found that when it was immersed in acid, it didn’t react or absorb any.

Who was Tantalus?

He was the son of Zeus and a rich and powerful king. He was invited to dine at the table of the gods at Mount Olympus where he stole the ambrosia and nectar, only served at this table, along with the gods’ secrets. His aim - to smuggle them back to earth, in the hope of giving his people immortal life. The gods weren’t happy and Tantalus was punished, for all eternity, made to stand in a pool of water underneath a tree laden with fruit. If he bent down to drink, the water would recede, if he reached up for the fruit, the branches would move out of reach. All tantalisingly close!

Where is tantalum found?

Tantalum is mainly mined in Australia, Brazil and Central Africa with mines being developed in Canada and Egypt.

What’s good about tantalum? The pros for a wedding ring

It’s colour.
Tantalum is a blue-grey colour, a little darker than platinum, and has almost chameleon-like qualities. It goes a little darker with a brushed finish or a little brighter when polished with an almost milky appearance. Combining both a brushed and polished finish gives a fantastic look. You can see some of our styles on our tantalum wedding ring page

It’s a hard, durable metal.
Tantalum is very resistant to marks, scratches and scuffs and it doesn’t shatter. It’s highly conductive to heat and electricity and, as it’s an inert metal, it doesn’t react to other metals or corrode in acids. This makes it an ideal choice of ring for those who work with their hands.

It’s hypoallergenic and bio-compatible.
Tantalum is the only metal to be used in surgical or dental implants without having to be coated first. It can replace bone or be used to connect torn nerves. If you struggle with allergies this may be the metal for you as it won’t irritate skin.  

It can be sized.
Many contemporary, alternative metals can’t be sized. Tantalum is highly malleable and so can be resized as needed. 

It’s price.
Given that tantalum is such a rare metal, its positive qualities are not necessarily reflected in its price. Whilst it costs slightly more than titanium or tungsten it’s far less expensive than gold, platinum or palladium.

Maintenance.
Tantalum doesn’t need much care or maintenance. It can be cleaned in warm, mild soapy water to remove any debris and then dried with a soft cloth. If not being worn, it can be stored in a soft pouch or box to avoid scratches with other metals. However, as mentioned, these can be polished out as needed. Like other metals, tantalum also takes on its own patina over time.  


What’s not so good?

Limited number of designs.
As this is a metal that’s new to jewellery in the UK, we don’t have many designs in our collection as yet and, because of the nature of the metal, most of the designs are more suited to men. Our tantalum ring collection is expanding, and we hope to offer designs for women in due course.

Kudos.
Tantalum is not yet considered a precious metal and doesn’t have a hallmark. This may change with time – palladium was first used in jewellery in 1939 yet only got its compulsory hallmark status in 2010 and look at the value of it now! Given the scarcity of tantalum, who knows if it will be given precious metal status in years to come?

Possible ethical issues.
Many people today want to know that their jewellery is ethically and sustainably sourced. Whilst most tantalum is produced responsibly in countries such as Australia and Brazil, some tantalum is mined in conflict areas.  It is now a requirement for companies to trace the source of tantalum and only use accredited resources for their supply. As manufacturers we are also required to audit our supply chain. Use of any conflict minerals has to be reported.  

Ready for something a little different? Get in touch if you’d like to know more or to see and try tantalum.