Steven Kretchmer, metalsmith and inventor,
develops a revolutionary form of platinum
Jewelry designer Steven Kretchmer has developed a new platinum alloy with a polarized force field similar to that found in magnets that has the power to repel or attract metal. Dubbed Polarium by Kretchmers wife and business partner, Alma, the alloy represents 16 years of experimentation and research.
On his glass countertop at the recent JA Show in New York City, Kretchmer, of Palenville, NY, chased a platinum ring lying on top of the glass with a piece of metal from beneath the glass. The ring scooted along the countertop. You just saw the action of two metals whose force fields repel each other. Now watch this, he said. Half of another ring, separated along its length, snapped perfectly into place with its other half with a crisp, audible click. A force of attraction holds these two sides together. Kretchmer asked onlookers to imagine the metals potential in clasps, floating gem mountings, collapsible rings, even a new form of en tremblant jewel with no metal connecting the components just the wearers movement making it tremble in space.
The alloy has already turned some important heads in the jewelry community. Ive been in this business over 50 years and say without hesitation this new alloy is revolutionary, says designer Henry Dunay. A product like this opens new doors for designs. Its like the laser welder when it first came out. First, we thought it would be used for only one thing, but then we started using it for so much else.
Polarium is a 777-parts-per-thousand platinum alloy that is powerfully polarized and, thus, highly magnetic. Polarium is an adaptation of a polarized platinum alloy experimented with previously as a vapor-deposited film for recording devices, says Kretchmer.
Materials like iron have microscopic charges called domains. All charges face in different directions in polarizable materials and cancel out each other.
But if you find a way to coerce or rotate the direction of the domains and line them up, you create a polarized force field. The platinum alloy in Polarium requires an extremely powerful coercive force, but when you achieve it, you have a permanently changed metal.
Polarized fields are a force as old as time itself. As I experimented over the years, I got chills thinking about its mystical properties. The earth itself is a giant polarized field. In fact, scientists dont have words for it; they can only describe it in terms of physics and mathematics.
Kretchmer plans to use the alloy in a line of his own jewelry. He has two patents pending and is writing 12 other patent applications. But he isnt yet planning to offer the new alloy to other designers. At this time I dont plan to market the alloy for widespread use, he says.
Dont Hide the Disks
With change comes fear. Kretchmer says some jewelers have asked whether the material is safe or has healing properties. Every day we use objects with magnetic forces: from phones and computers to refrigerators. I believe those who fear it are exhibiting unnecessary trepidation. As for its therapeutic value, nothing has been proven scientifically.
He experimented to see whether a Polarium force field in jewelry could damage computer discs or credit cards. I would be concerned about rubbing the magnetic strip of a credit card directly against a polarized piece, though we detected no problems if the other side of the card rubbed against it, he says.
Kretchmer is now working on jewelry designs with multiple internal force fields, such as inside a ring, to minimize or avoid problems altogether. He says Polariums force field in certain configurations extends only very short distance. Best of all, says Kretchmer, Polarium blows life into dead objects because it allows inanimate objects to move. Think of Polarium with the ability to float in air or where jeweled parts can be held together without traditional joinery, such as in clasps, bracelets and rings. Jewelry can finally become what it was always meant to be: tactile art.
Steven Kretchmer Designs, Palenville, NY; (518) 678-0304
by Robert Weldon, G.G.
||Steve Kretchmers Metropolis
earrings use levitating Polarium disks that jiggle and wobble as the wearer walks. The earrings contain 950 platinum and blue and yellow 18k gold. (The earring on the right is levitating through the magic of photography.) The floating disks exhibit true levitation, defying gravity as a result of the like forces repelling each other. Design ©2002 S. Kretchmer (patents pending).
Photo by Robert Weldon.
||A close-up shows the disks are not attached to the post.
Photo by Robert Weldon.