Ah, Damascus steel. No other metal is surrounded by so much mystery. For everything we know about its ancient history, there are two things that we don't. What we do know is that the rings made with the pattern welding method that we now call Damascus steel are unique in a way that's unrivaled by any other metal or any other jewelry. Mesmerizing folds, spectacular patterns, unstoppable strength, there's a reason the legend of Damascus steel endures.
Here are a few other things we know about Damascus steel:
What is Damascus steel?
Damascus steel is more of a method than it is a metal. In fact, Damascus steel can be made from metals other than steel. Our Damascus rings are made from two types of stainless steel that are pattern welded at high temperatures and then machine-hammered. The process is repeated several times until we're left with a solid billet. Individual rings are cut from the billet at different angles to reveal the rippling, wave-like patterns inside the metal. These patterns are unique and no two Damascus rings will ever look alike.
While the technique can vary, most Damascus steel products are based on some variation of this method, which is similar to the Japanese art of mokume gane.
Why was Damascus steel considered a lost art?
Damascus steel jewelry and weapons were in production as far back as 2,400 years ago. Although named for the region that is now the capital of Syria, classic Damascus steel was made from Wootz steel, which was perfected in and imported from India. Remember, Damascus steel is the result of a metalworking technique, not the metal itself. An early global commodity, Damascened Wootz steel was highly sought around the world and was in global production through the 1750s before mysteriously disappearing from the world stage.
Theories abound as to why the art was lost. Some sources argue that a depletion of the ores used to manufacture Wootz steel was to blame. Others point to the breakdown of trade routes, while others argue that the technique was kept "too secret" and was not passed on to enough metalsmiths to survive. Some blame British colonial rule in India for suppressing the technique, while still others claim it was a combination of all these factors. A few metalworking historians even argue that the art of Damascus steel wasn't lost at all, but instead quietly evolved into different, more modern processes.
Modern Damascus steel, which attempts to replicate the ancient art through reverse engineering, was only introduced in the past century. Although the finished products look as fantastic as their historical counterparts, it is unlikely that the exact original process for making Damascus steel will ever be known.
Is Damascus steel really as strong as some people say it is?
Although prized for its distinctive, almost hypnotic patterns, Damascus steel was used to create much more than pretty serving ware and ornamental weapons. Damascus steel swords and knives are legendary for their sharpness and balance, to the point where incredible tales of their power became some of Damascus steel's best-known characteristics: Swords that were impossible to break, knives that were so sharp they could splice a human hair, blades that would never lose their edge, armor that could stop any bullet, guns that would never misfire -- all became part of the Damascus steel mythos.
While most of the stories are exaggerated, and some of the things Damascus steel can purportedly do are literally impossible, there is still something magical about this ancient art that continues to inspire the imagination today. It's no surprise, for instance, that Damascus steel was the inspiration behind Valyrian steel, a fictional metal from a certain TV show you may have heard of.
While you won't be taking down any White Walkers with your Damascus steel sword anytime soon, scientific analysis of ancient pieces of Damascus steel has revealed the presence of carbon nanotubes in its molecular structure, which could account for its incredible strength and durability.
Can I get personalized engraving on my Damascus ring?
Yes. It used to be that modern engraving equipment couldn't handle the texture or style of Damascus steel rings, but that is no longer the case. Optional personalized engraving is now available for most styles.
Can I get my Damascus steel ring resized?
Most of the time, no. This is why one of our favorite mantras is always know your ring size. If you need your Damascus steel ring to be a different size, you will need to exchange your ring for one in the correct size. There is a charge for this service.
Subscribers to our Protection Plan, however, are covered for one free size exchange. Coverage lasts for one year from the date you placed your order. You will only be responsible for shipping.
If you have any questions or concerns about sizing, please call 1-866-215-1861 or send us an email.
What is an acid finish?
After we build each ring, many of our styles are dipped in a diluted acid bath. Why would we do this? Because it darkens the patterning and reveals the different reflectivity levels of the steels used to create the ring. Some patterns look like water, some look like wood grain, and others take on more mind-bending looks like zebra patterns or tiger stripes. We can even use acid finishes to bring out some cool straight-line effects that definitely set these rings apart from historical relics.
Please note: In many of the pictures of acid-etched rings on our website, the metal looks darker -- almost black -- than it actually is. In reality, acid-etched Damascus rings tend to be more of a flat, dark gray offset by lighter areas.
Will Damascus steel rust?
Nope. We only use stainless steels in our billets, which will not rust or tarnish over time.
How do I clean my Damascus steel ring?
Damascus steel may be the world's most mysterious metal, but there's nothing mysterious about how to keep it clean: Soap and water. Just like washing your hands.
Keep in mind that even though Damascus steel may be the stuff of legends, it can eventually show wear. If this ever happens to you, we can handle it -- send your ring back to us, and we will refinish it for you.
Is a Damascus steel ring right for me?
Damascus rings are almost more of a calling than a style. They aren't right for everyone, but for those who feel their allure, the pull of the metal is irresistible. Nothing else looks like them, nothing else feels like them, and nothing else you will ever wear will have such a rich and complex history.
If you're ready to explore the mysteries of Damascus steel, then check out our full selection of Damascus rings.