Interview with Ed Rosenberg, founder of Edward Mirell

About the Designer

Edward Rosenberg is a third generation jeweler. Edward Rosenberg's family began making jewelry in Europe in the early 1900s just before the Russian revolution. In 1924, Ed's father established his first jewelry enterprise on the lower east side of Manhattan. Combining the teachings of the old and new world methodologies provided Ed with diverse experience in all facets of jewelry design.

Ed has always had a passion for titanium. In the late 1970's and early 1980's he was frustrated by the jewelry industry because it had grown stale and complacent. There were scarcely any technological advances being made. However, he could see the benefits that titanium could bring to the table for jewelry. With Ed's determination titanium would become the first noble element to define an entirely new category of fine jewelry material in nearly 3,000 years. To bring this lofty goal to fruition in 1983 he formed Spectore Corporation.

Spectore Corporation is the first, and continues to be the only, facility in the world that is singularly focused on the design, development and manufacture of artistic titanium products. Spectore holds patents for new technologies and alloys, including the exciting Black Ti.

In 2000 the new company, Edward Mirell, was formed. Edward Mirell became the finished jewelry designer side of Spectore Corporation. With the separation of the varied titanium manufacturing business, from the designer jewelry business, Ed has been able to better focus on creating his new titanium jewelry collections.

Interview with Edward Rosenberg, pioneer designer and manufacturer of contemporary metals jewelry, by J.R. Yates.

Edward Rosenberg is Designer and CEO of Edward Mirell, the leading titanium jewelry designer in the world. Thousands of style conscious consumers wear his cutting edge titanium jewelry designs. Ed is a reserved individual who turns down repeated requests for interviews by the jewelry and fashion industry. However, I was fortunate enough to catch up with Ed and get some insight into this creative man.

Ed, since titanium is a natural grayish white color, what made you think of "black" titanium for jewelry?

I wish I could say that we discovered black titanium with the end plan in mind. The reality was that it occurred while I was attempting to find a completely different end result. Alexander Graham Bell said "Discoveries & Inventions arise from observation of little things". Black titanium was born while I was attempting to create a process for merging dissimilar metals. The alpha casing of the new alloy became a black ceramic. It was extraordinarily beautiful and durable.


How long did you research before you developed Black Ti™?

The time from initial discovery to the 1st production run spanned over 10 years. The formulas were refined a number of times and the learning curve for refining and processing were both costly and time consuming. As with most significant innovations the end result was well worth the investment.

Was it initially made in your lab by yourself, brewing up the mixtures to get it just right?

The first iteration of black titanium was created while making a custom piece for a client in England. It was to a bracelet made of a number of refractory metals combined with 18k white gold inserts. While heating the materials the newly created alloy turned jet black. I figured it was just an alpha casing and could be removed. It couldn't. The client was disappointed with the black bracelet but chose to wear it until we could replace it. Needless to say he had so many compliments on the piece he refused to return it and now owns both the original and one in gray. He still rubs my nose in the fact that the innovation was a result of contrived negligence.


How has your patented Black Ti™ titanium affected the jewelry fashion world?

Durable non-coated black metal has always been the most sought after and illusive material in jewelry. The look of black alone and coupled with other white and yellow metals provides an unsurpassed richness to jewelry. Add to that any variety of gemstones and the possibilities become infinite. Black titanium expands the broadness of design beyond measure.


Any crazy stories?

There are several stories I would now classify as funny. I guess the funniest (now, not then) was the first time we attempted to machine black titanium in a production environment. We set the bar into one of our very expensive CNC machines. Within minutes the machine emitted the brightest white light I had ever seen. It was like a gigantic magnesium sparkler. The machine was on fire. I am told the temperature reached over 3,000 degrees. When the fire died some 20 minutes later our CNC machine was all but destroyed. That first ring cost a fortune. It was a tough and expensive lesson in the meaning of reactive.


Did your development of black titanium influence other jewelry manufacturers to try to copy you?

Obviously the meteoric rise of our patented black titanium has fueled a feeding frenzy for like materials. Unfortunately the only solution thus far has been realized through coating processes. These coatings do not have the durability, versatility, or integrity of black titanium. The coating processes are low cost and therefore used on low cost products where quality and durability are not an integral component in the credibility of the product.


Any other developments that you introduced to the industry?

This one would take me hours. Aside from our involvement in the jewelry arena we are also extremely involved with various organizations and formidable players in the titanium industry. The titanium industries primary focus is on high tech, aerospace, medical, and industrial applications. We are working with some real cutting edge technologies that would dwarf anything currently used in the manufacture of jewelry. These include powder metallurgies, laminations, metal growth through depositions, and many others I am not at liberty to discuss. I will say this; the technology in this sector is as far removed from what one sees in jewelry as the old tube radio is from today's High definition movies.


Which is your favorite EM collection?

Thats a tough question for the product designer to answer. As with most designers I too always favor the next collection. I find that each assortment has an appeal to its own audience. I thought I could guess which group would gravitate to each collection but after doing a bunch of trunk and trade shows over the past 35 plus years I've learned that you really can't judge peoples taste by appearance. That's especially true of men. For some it's the complication of the engineering, for others it's the look, and for still others it's the image perception that they wish to communicate. I have my own theory on mood and product. Some days I just get an urge to put something on that just says today is going to be different.


When you aren't creating new technologies, or cool new jewelry styles, what hobbies do you enjoy?

In my former life I was a professional musician and artist. I recorded over 100 records on my own and as a studio musician. At 26 I was the managing art director of a design studio in NY called Zodiac. My love for art and music reflects in everything I do. I play golf. It's a great game for learning life lessons. You learn patience and focus. Most of all you learn what famous golfers say "sometimes you get good lies, sometimes bad ones. In either case you have to play the lie you are given". I love motorcycling. It's solitude in its purest form.


What's on the horizon for Ed Rosenberg?

As you probably know, what rocks my boat are the possibilities not yet realized. I'm not only referring to materials and technologies, I think there are an amazing number of applications within the gift, table top, marine, automotive, architectural, and other industries. We are already working with DuPont, Motorola, Dell, and a number of motorcycle companies to name a few. My studio at Spectore resembles what you might imagine as a laboratory of a mad scientist. It is our own personal museum of titanium history.

-- J.R. Yates

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