Titanium comes out of the ground. In rocks. It is popular because of a very high strength-to-weight ratio (thanks wiki!) To use an example, it might take a pound of steel to hold up king kong, but it only takes 1/2 a pound of titanium to do the same thing. While heavier than aluminum, pound-for-pound, titanium is twice as strong.
The benefits for using titanium in eyeglass frames now seems obvious. This metal will result in frames that are equally as strong as steel frames yet are only half the weight. Titanium makes a lot of sense. Don’t let any retailer tell you it will change the world, but it will provide a lighter pair of glasses equally as strong as a steel pair. Also, the other side of this is that if you know you’ll only be wearing a pair of glasses an hour or two at a time (e.g., sunglasses or fashion glasses), you might get the best bang for your buck out of cheaper steel frames.
A final note is that titanium is often alloyed, or combined, with other metals such as nickel. Some titanium frames are 100% and some are alloys. Unfortunately, the online retailers don’t seem to be disclosing this information. I will contact a few and post again in a couple of days. Generally, you want to avoid an alloyed frame if you are allergic to nickel or other metals with which titanium might be alloyed. The rationale behind the alloying process is that the manufacturing process is easier and the titanium becomes easier to manipulate.
This nice looking pair of frames is from EyeBuyDirect
The style name is “Free.” It looks like this particular pair runs about $40, plus probably $20 or so in coatings and upgrades. A whole lot better than the $400 I remember my father paying for a pair back in 1999.
Update: I stumbled upon this blogger whose father squished a pair of titanium eyeglasses. They were all mangled, but apparently they were able to be fixed without any breakage! Pretty neat metal, that titanium.