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Acid-etched meteroic iron

I throw myself on the mercy of my wonderful Orchid online community.
A good friend of mine wants an 18k yellow gold, comfort fit, half
round wedding band, size 9, 7mm. INLAID in the center would be an
approximately 5mm ring of acid-etched meteroic iron. I have never
worked with meteoric iron, though I believe there have been posts on
Orchid dealing with it. Anyone out there willing to take a shot at
this? Thank you

David Barzilay
Lord of the Rings
607 S Hill St Ste 850
Los Angeles, CA 90014-1718

A couple thoughts. First, understand that if you want to retain the
native attractive crystal structure of the iron, which is what makes
it unique, after all, you can’t forge, work, or otherwise cause it to
recrystallize. Some cold forming may be possible, but it’s often
quite hard to form, and you nevertheless risk at least altering the
crystal pattern. That means that you can’t make a wire of the stuff
and inlay it in a gold band, if you expect to get the characteristic
crystal structure to show. instead, you treat it like a lapidary
material, which can be soldered to. So you’ll need a block of the
iron big enough to cut out the “inlay” band, intact in one piece.
then the rest of the ring is built around that band. A gold liner
inserted into the inlay, with gold side bands placed over the liner
on each side, and soldered into place, would do the job nicely. Your
customer should understand that this ring, once made, would be very
difficult, if not impossible, to resize at some later date, without
either pretty much remaking the gold parts, or considerable damage
to the iron. Solder seams or welds will show, and the stuff is known
for being quite hard and stiff, due to the high nickel content.

Your customer should also understand that meteoritic iron is not
stainless. It rusts. Rather easily, in fact. the ring will need
periodic coating with a sealant of some sort, such as a good wax, to
protect the iron. Also, he/she should understand that though the
iron is hard to work or bend, it nevertheless will wear down, and
depending on how they wear the band, if the iron part is not made
recessed under the gold surface, the etched pattern will rather
quickly be dulled down, and then lost, requiring the process of
re-etching, and that is not something most jewelry owners will wish to
do at home. In short, while beautiful and an interesting idea, this
is not likely to be a low maintenance ring.

By the way, if you like the idea of iron in modern jewelry, you
might take a look at Jim Binnion’s web site. one of his recent
mokume bands is made with laminates of iron and platinum. Very
beautiful combination. And, as Jim says in the accompanying text, it
needs maintenance. Here’s the link…

Peter Rowe

David and Peter,

I've worked with this stuff many times, and it is possible to bend

it into a ring. Sometimes. If the material is clean and free of
voids, it will bend with only mild persuasion. Since you are using it
as an inlay, you will have to file (or mill) it fairly thin, like
1.5mm. Material this thin should bend easily. I have run it through
the rolling mill (lightly) without losing the pattern. I have not
tried making wire out of it, but I have forged it. Yes you will lose
the beautiful crystalline structure. Just polish it back to 400 grit,
place it in an oven at 350 degrees or so, for several (like more than
6) hours. The pattern will re grow. Etch with 10 percent nitric mixed
with alcohol, not water (you don’t want to encourage rust). The
slower you grow the crystals, the larger they will be. But, you just
never know what you’re gonna get…

You may have to experiment a little before you get it right. Again,

I have seen a lot of variation in this material. Man didn’t make it,
and the One who did didn’t follow any rules. If you need some of this
material, let me know. I have some flat slabs around that I have been
working with, and would be willing to share it.


Douglas Zaruba
35 N. Market St.
Frederick, MD 21701
301 695-1107
Why Wait? Move to EarthLink.

A couple of comments, First Peter you mentioned soldering it. I have
heard that if you solder it you will completely destroy the unique
crystal structure (widmanstaten lines) and that you will end up with
rather mundane crystal patterns when you etch. So I would suggest
laser welding to keep the heat affected area to a minimum. Doug did
you solder the ends of your band together or did you use the laser?

Second I have been wearing a 22k and iron mokume ring since January
without any special maintenance and it has not shown any rusting. I
am trying to find out how stable they are in rough day to day wear
as I get a lot of interest in them but have some concern about the
amount of maintenance needed. I think as long as you wear it daily
it will not rust. – Jim Binnion

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160

Member of the Better Business Bureau


When ever possible, I prefer to set the meteoric iron rather than

soldering it. This can be by simply surrounding it with a bezel, or
trapping it like channel setting. The laser is the obvious choice
for soldering, but you can use easy silver solder and not totally
destroy the crystalline structure. (Use black flux) This is not
always the case, however, and you may find that the pattern has
weakened or disappeared completely. I have had good success by
putting the piece in an oven at 350 degrees and holding it there for
a day. At the temperatures that you use to fuse layers of metal
together, I’m sure you will eliminate all crystal structure. I have
taken it to a dull red heat and forged some of this material,
changing its shape slightly. I was able to get a crystalline pattern

I have been using the Gibbeon material. I have been able to die

form it, make spheres, set stones in it, carve it, even roll it
through the mill to get a consistent thickness (but not reduce it by
a lot). If you don’t heat it, the pattern will be there no matter
what you do to the surface mechanically. If you sand or file it, for
example, a mild etch will return the pattern. Yes, you can even put
it in a (fresh) sodium bisulfate pickle, and the pattern will emerge,
but you may also get some staining that you may not like. The
nitric/alcohol etch is quite safe, if you treat it like any other
nitric acid etch (we all know the rules here, RIGHT?). And make sure
you use a neutralizing rinse after etching, or you may find that
some acid has become trapped in the pores of the metal and staining
will occur later. I use baking soda and alcohol, followed by an
alcohol rinse.

As far as rust forming on the meteoric iron, it will happen. True,

if you wear the material in a ring, and the ring is not emersed in
salt water, and it is always being rubbed, it will be difficult for a
layer of oxide to form. Inside the holes you’ve drilled for stones,
or the back side of a ring top…well, that’s another story. . Rust
Happens. I like to warm the material slightly, and soak it in a light
oil to impregnate all the pores. After it dries, I apply a light coat
of micro-crystalline wax. If it is an area that will always be
hidden, like the inside of a dome on a ring top, I will apply a thin
coating of Incralac.

As for your 22k and iron mokume ring, you will probably not notice

any rust unless you get it in salt water (like the ocean) or you get
a lot of sweat on it. I have been selling damascus bands by Namu Cho
for many years, and I have only had 1 person who had a problem with
them. I have seen rust appear on many of these, but it is a very easy
cleanup. Just like a gold ring, they will need refinishing

Get some meteoric iron and experiment with it. 


Douglas Zaruba
35 N. Market St.
Frederick, MD 21701
301 695-1107

A couple of comments, First Peter you mentioned soldering it. I
have heard that if you solder it you will completely destroy the
unique crystal structure (widmanstaten lines) and that you will end
up with rather mundane crystal patterns when you etch. So I would
suggest laser welding to keep the heat affected area to a minimum. 

the few examples i did with this material actually soldered (I
usually set it like a gemstone, in a bezel), did not have any
apparent alteration in the pattern. But I soldered it with a rather
easy flowing gold solder, so the temperature was not all that high.
I would think you’d need to get hot enough for recrystalization to
take place, and that might be quite hot (like the usual annealing
temps for steels).

Several people say they forge and work the metal, and even then,
still get the unique pattern. Now THAT I find surprising. I’d have
thought working the metal would make a very big difference in the
patterns. I’d have expected that to pretty much destroy the unique
patterns. But several people on Orchid say they have successfully
forged meteoritic iron, and it still etches to about the same


Hey Doug,

I’ve been thinking of alloying some gold with meteoric iron. Or
grinding some to add to a casting for a speckled blue effect. Of
course ordinary iron would work but the cachet of actual meteoric may
be more interesting, at least for myself.

Is there any on the market that is unsuitable as a specimen and
available? I’m also curious about typical composition, iron I know
but how much nickel is common?

Daniel Ballard


There are meteorites that are not iron/nickle. I just like the
Gibbeon material, since I found it very easy to work with. So, I
bought a few large slabs. If you’d like some to play with, let me
know and I’ll send you some small cut-offs.

I like playing with colored gods, and using meteoric iron sounds
cool to me, too. I made purple gold at a workshop I was teaching a
few years ago. To create an oxygen free atmosphere, I dumped sugar on
the melt after emersing the aluminum. Worked perfectly, but what a
candied mess!

I’d like to see the results…


Douglas Zaruba
35 N. Market St.
Frederick, MD 21701
301 695-1107