Hall of Fame: Martin Heinrich Klaproth

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Martin Heinrich Klaproth was born in Wernigerode, Germany, in 1743. Initially, he trained as an apothecary, or chemist as we call the role today. He spent his early career in Hannover and Danzig before moving to Berlin to begin his own business.


  • Name: Martin Heinrich Klaproth
  • Date of Birth: 1st December 1743
  • Country of Birth: Wernigerode, Germany
  • Date of Death: 1st January 1817 (aged 73)


By 1792, he was lecturing in Chemistry at the Berlin Artillery School and became the first-ever Professor of Chemistry at the University of Berlin in 1810. However, Klaproth booked his place in the history books several times over as he discovered multiple new elements. In 1789 he found zirconium (atomic number 40) which he named after the gemstone Zircon. He also discovered uranium (92) in the very same year, and he named it after the recently discovered planet Uranus. In 1795, he rediscovered titanium (22) after its earlier discovery in 1791 was neglected. He also found chromium (24) in 1798, named tellurium (52) in 1798 and co-discovered cerium (58) in 1803.

Martin Heinrich Klaproth

His discovery of titanium brings him into the gemstone sphere, as he was the chemist who named the titanium-rich gemstone Titanite, which had helped him in his work. You may not immediately recognise this as a gemstone, but it also has an alternate title more commonly used in gemology: Sphene.


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