I have a client that wants me to inlay Meteorite into his wedding
band. I have not work with Meteorite before and I have no idea
where to get it or work with it.
To start, find Bill Gangi’s web site.
He’s usually got meteoritic iron pieces in stock at reasonable
prices. Or at least, he did the last time I saw him… (last year’s
The stuff is Nickel/Iron, sometimes with inclusions of olivine or a
few other things. That makes it fascinating as a material is the
unique and characteristic crystal structure it shows. So in using it,
you want to both show this structure, and not do anything to it that
would destroy or hide this structure. It’s possible to solder the
stuff in place, but you have to use low enough grades of solder that
the crystal structure never starts to anneal or temper, etc. Safer is
simply to treat it as a gem material. Grind or file it to shape as
you might any piece of steel. If there are mineral inclusions, these
might be rough on a file, so use some care. As it is steel, you
could, if you wish, heat it and forge it to other shapes. But doing
this would destroy or damage the unique crystal structure.
When you buy it, it may already have been etched to show off the
structure properly. You’ll want to wax or otherwise protect the
"stone" from rusting, or at least advise your client to keep it waxed
or oiled in some way.
If you need to re-etch it because you had to shape or polish the
surface, concentrated Nitric acid, a small portion, added to
denatured alcohol ( as with adding water to acid, add the acid to the
alcohol, with stirring, not the other way around), will etch it. Do
this fairly quickly, then dilute that acid (after removing the
meteoritic material) with water, then neutralize and discard. The
reason is that the acid and alcohol mix is not stable. Dilute it for
safety. Do the etching outside, with proper safety gear. If you are
starting with a nice smooth surface (fine abrasive paper, such as 600
grit, should be enough. You don’t need to fully polish it before
etching), the pattern shows up very quickly. After etching, soak on
baking soda solution to neutralize any acid, then soak the steel in
only denatured alcohol. Anhydrous alcohol would be better, but
ordinary hardware store grade will do it. The idea is to make sure
all traces of water or acid are removed, to avoid rusting. Then dry,
and wax or oil. Set it the same as you’d do with any other stone. If
you get the stuff from Bill Gangi, ask him for details on how to etch
it, in case my memory of how (described above) is missing anything
important. Same thing if you get it from anywhere else.