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Working with meteorite


#1

Can anyone tell me about working with meteorite as a component of
gold rings? I have potential custom order wishing to incorporate
meteorite as a layer on a gold band. Any recommendations for
suppliers of, how to work with it, safety considerations… anything?
Never worked with it before. Do I want to? And “Gibeon” meteorite vs.
other sources?

Thank you in advance!

Laura
www.LauraGuptillJewelry.com


#2
how to work with it, safety considerations... anything? Never
worked with it before. Do I want to? 

It’s iron. plain and simple. Treat it as you would any other
lapidary gemstone material. Sand, file, grind, etc, to shape. Polish.
Etch with a brief dip in nitric acid (check orchid archives. usual is
a mix of acid plus alcohol, which needs to be done safely). The
neutralize acid with baking soda solution. Then dip in pure alcohol
to dry off any water remaining, and oil or wax it to prevent further
corrosion or eventual rusting.

The key to meteoritic iron is the fantastic crystal patterns that
acid etching shows you. There can also be attractive olivene
(peridot) inclusions. You probably should avoid trying to solder it.
Although iron can be soldered, you don’t want to be heat treating it
in any way that might alter that wonderful crystal structure. That
might also include anything like rolling or forming. Iron certainly
will do that, but then the crystal structure will be changed, and
probably not for the better in appearance.

As to safety? It’s just iron. Anything you could safely do with mild
steel you can do with meteoritic iron. In other words, about
anything.

the main consideration in jewelry is that the beauty of the stuff
depends usually on that surface etched pattern it shows. Wear that
off, and it’s just a chunk of grey iron (though it can be re-etched).
Get it all rusty, and it doesn’t look so good. That might be a
consideration in rings, more than in, say, a pendant.

Peter Rowe


#3
Although iron can be soldered, you don't want to be heat treating
it in any way that might alter that wonderful crystal structure.
That might also include anything like rolling or forming. 

I have used meteorite; but have handled it as I would a stone. I
would not try to form it in any way. But Peter may have had
experience working it and is more informed about its working
properties.

The qualifying ‘might’ is a bit confusing.

KPK


#4

Thanks, Kevin and Peter. I have seen it as a complete band around a
ring, sort of “inlaid” I presume, with a gold band next to the skin.
Would they have cut it from a large chunk and bored a hole in it to
make into a ring? If they couldn’t roll it or solder it… right?

Laura


#5

Laura,

The problem with talking about working meteorite is there are a bunch
of different meteorites and each has slightly different composition.
Some (5% or less) are mostly iron some of these contain nickel iron
crystals some are mixed iron and iron silicates. If what you have is
mostly metallic iron you can possibly bend it round and inlay it in a
channel. Unfortunately the only way you are going to find out how
malleable your meteorite is will be by trying to bend it.

Heating the meteorite to aid in bending it is risky as it is easy to
ruin the crystal structure ( widmanstatten patterns) that are so
prized in this type of jewelry. I have seen it soldered by people who
work it a lot but I have also seen it ruined by heating. You cannot
reproduce those crystal structures if it is ruined as it take very
slow cooling to create them, something on the order of 1-100 degrees
per million years.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#6

Laura meteorite is commonly sold at Tucson shows as ‘plates’, or a
thin sheet. If I were doing it I would do it as I do stone inlay.

Would they have cut it from a large chunk and bored a hole in it
to make into a ring? 

No, it would be impractical and wouldn’t suit the nature of the
material.

KPK


#7

I have seen rings that were turned on a lathe from a solid block.

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co. 80210


#8

easiest material is from the fall near Gibeon, south Africa, hence
the material is called “Gibeon”. although i am not attending Tucson
this year, expect to pay $0.75-$1.25 / gram.

I incorporated some of this material, cut as a cab, into a
ceremonial breastplate. I avoided using my standard cabbing
equipment, the composition of this meteorite has about 8% nickel, so
you don’t want to grind it on a conventional lapidary grinding wheel,
which has diamond nickel plated onto the wheel, as the nickel from
the meteorite bonds to the nickel on the diamond, stripping the
diamond off of the wheel.

so, trim the material to your approximate size using a jewelers
metal wire saw, then shape using a coarse file. To show the best
internal pattern, finish with 400# sandpaper, then etch 20 seconds
with a 2% nitric acid, neutralize with baking sodaurn and coat with
wd-40. a finish any finer than 400 grit and you lose the pattern.

you can vacuum sputter gold onto the surface, and although i have
not tried it, you should be able to coat with a layer of 24k gold,
aka Kumboo, by burnishing gold foil (0.001’ thick) onto the meteorite
at 600 deg F.

Mark Zirinsky
denver
pemed.com


#9

Thank you Mark. As usual, Ganoksin is the first place to turn with a
question~ Ganoksin rocks!