The latest addition to Preciosa’s portfolio of eco-friendly glass colors is anything but ordinary. Born from recycled magnetic car parts and a decades-long friendship between two career chemists, Mesmera is the sublime amalgamation of serendipity and science.
Květa Sázavová, Preciosa’s leading color expert, has known Václav Gruber for thirty-five years. So, it came as no surprise to her when Václav, a researcher in the Department of Environmental Engineering at the prestigious Czech Academy of Sciences, reached out one afternoon to inform his friend that he and his team had found something he thought she might find interesting. “He called me up one day to tell me that a team of researchers had managed to extract neodymium from some recycled electromagnetic car parts,” explains Květa. “I was immediately intrigued because I had always wanted to work with neodymium but had never gotten the chance because it is extremely expensive, and not often used for open-ended experimentation.”
Generally regarded to have one of the most complex spectra of the chemical elements, neodymium is a rare-earth metal well known to chemists and glassmakers alike for its metameric properties, that is, its ability to cause glass to change color under different light sources. “The development process in the case of Mesmera was exactly the reverse of our typical approach,” says Martina Kolbergerová, who oversaw all of Mesmera’s melting trials. “We suddenly had access to this hard-to-come-by element of which we already had a theoretical knowledge, so instead of setting out to achieve a specific color we let the neodymium sort of do what it wanted and just focused on getting the formula right.”
After three months of development and regular consultation with the Academy’s research team, an unforeseen issue presented itself: “Because the color was intentionally developed to appear differently under different wavelengths, we quickly realized that very specific control conditions were needed to measure the consistency of every new crystal batch,” adds Martina. In the end, Preciosa’s quality control experts determined that meticulous regulation of both the semi-finished and final product yielded the most consistent results.
Imagine! A niche electromagnetic recycling program underway at a publicly funded research institution coincidentally extracts a highly sought-after glass additive that finds its way onto the desk of a chemist who works for one of the world’s leading glass manufactures and ends up as the metameric coloring agent for the commercial production of an exclusive, game-changing new crystal color.