About Damascus Steel & Damascus Steel Rings


Damascus swordmaker in Syria
A sword maker in Damascus, Syria, prior to 1900. (Wikimedia Commons Public Domain)

A UNIQUE CHOICE WITH AN INTERESTING HISTORY:

Damascus steel holds a legendary status in world history. Europeans became horrifyingly familiar with Damascus steel during the 11th and 12th century Crusades. Christian knights fought epic battles for control of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. It was during these battles that they first observed the Damascus steel swords carried by the Muslims. These swords could cut an armored knight in half with minimal effort. They retained their precision sharpness no matter how many mortal blows they delivered in battle. Damascus steel swords could also flex like rubber without breaking.


Muslims fighting with Crusaders with Damascus blades
The Muslims fought against the Crusaders with legendary blades known to made from Damascus steel (Newscientist.com; Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The reason Damascus steel was legendary because ordinary steel is not suitable for weapons like swords. Swords must deliver forceful blows without shattering on impact. Ordinary steel is an alloy of iron and carbon. It can be made harder by adding more carbon. However, adding more carbon makes it very brittle and therefore totally unsuitable for swords. But Damascus steel was no ordinary steel. It was made from a remarkable alloy known as Wootz steel. Wootz steel was incredibly hard and flexible at the same time. It was steel on steroids.

The Western World soon learned these amazing Damascus steel weapons had been made by master bladesmiths in Damascus, Syria. In fact, they had been creating Damascus steel swords and knives for hundreds of years prior to the Crusades. The first accounts of Damascus steel bladesmiths date back to around 300 A. D. Yet by the 1700s, the craft of making Damascus steel knives and swords was lost to the world.

Modern day Damascus Steel Sword
A modern Damascus steel sword. Made by Kevin Cashen of Cashenblades.com. (Image copyright by Kevin R. Cashen, 2006.)

WHAT EXACTLY IS DAMASCUS STEEL?

Damascus steel is characterized by an imbedded rippled pattern. This pattern is not etched or laser drilled. It is actually part of the composition of the steel ingot from which a blade is formed. The characteristic rippled look of Damascus steel can be obtained by two methods. The first method supposedly produced the superior blades of legend. The rippled pattern was actually part of the chemical composition of the steel ingot from which legendary swords were forged. This type of Damascus steel was known as Wootz steel for centuries.

Wootz steel reputedly came from only one location in southern India. It was then sent to Damascus, Syria where the best bladesmiths in the world created the formidable Muslim blades. Their process for making these seemingly invincible weapons was a closely guarded secret. But by the 1700s, Damascus steel blade making ceased. No one is really sure why this happened. One modern theory is that the Wootz ingots from the specific Indian locale contained a unique mix of impurities that were conducive to creating the famous Damascus steel rippled pattern. Once the area was depleted of these unique ores, Wootz steel ingots could no longer be produced. Therefore, the technique of forming superior Damascus steel blades no longer worked, so it was forgotten.
practical.

Many scientific attempts have tried to replicate Wootz steel and the Damascus blade patterns that could be derived from it. Antique blades of superior quality have been analyzed for composition. It is now widely believed that in addition to a unique mixture of alloys in Wootz steel, carbon nanotubes played a large role. Carbon nanotubes are incredibly strong microstructures that can flex and bend with ease. Ancient Damascus steel bladesmiths probably had no idea of their existence in Wootz steel ingots.

Damascus Steel knife by Holger Muller
A modern Damascus steel knife made and photographed by Holger Muller, 2011. (Creative Commons License 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

The second method of producing Damascus steel is called pattern-welding. This is the method by which Damascus steel rings and knives are created today. Pattern-welding involves forging/laminating sheets of steel with differing levels of carbon content together to form a "striped" ingot with both light and dark bands of steel. (The more carbon the steel has, the darker the band.) The striped ingot is then manipulated in the forge to produce the characteristic rippled look of ancient Wootz Damascus steel. Of course, pattern-welded Damascus steel does not have the strength of the Wootz Damascus steel of legend. But visually, it can look remarkably close to Wootz Damascus steel.

Damascus Steel Knife blade
A modern artisan Damascus steel knife blade made and photographed by Trails End Knife Company, 2011. (Creative Commons License 1.0, Wikimedia Commons)

The Vikings created their own variation of pattern-welded blades. And Japanese sword makers have been making laminated, pattern-welded blades for centuries. They named this technique of laminating different metals together Mokume Gane. Steel gun barrels were also made of laminated Damascus steel prior to the invention of smokeless powder in the late 1800s. While solving the problem of black powder fouling gun barrels, smokeless powder was too hot for the laminated Damascus steel and caused gun barrels to explode.

Damascus Steel Knive blade
A modern artisan Damascus steel knife blade. Made and photographed by Doug Ponzio of www.Ponziodamascus.com.

Virginia blade smith, William F. Moran (1926-2006), founder of the American Bladesmithing Society, is credited for reintroducing the world to pattern-welded Damascus steel in 1973. He was known as "the father of modern Damascus steel." Modern metalsmiths have adopted his method. Today there are artisans of the craft who produce exquisite, museum-quality, pattern-welded Damascus steel blades. (See the list of artisan Damascus steel blade makers at the bottom of the page.) After William Moran's 1973 reintroduction, many artisan metalsmiths began experimenting with the technique for both knives and Damascus steel rings.

WHY CHOOSE DAMASCUS STEEL RINGS FOR OUR WEDDING BANDS?

Damascus steel rings are like finger prints. No two are ever alike. (However, a set of similar rings for him and her can be made from the same Damascus steel ingot.) When you choose our pattern welded Damascus steel rings for your wedding rings, they say this about you: You want your rings to be one-of-a-kind. You believe in long standing tradition, quality, and durability for the best price. Damascus steel rings are ideal for those who work with their hands or lead otherwise active lifestyles. They are tough and durable.

HOW DO WE CARE FOR OUR DAMASCUS STEEL RINGS?

The best way to care for your Damascus steel rings is simple. Just wear them! The natural oils in your skin are the best lubricant for keeping them rust and tarnish free. If you must store your Damascus steel rings for any length of time, choose a location with low humidity. With Titanium-jewelry's 5 year guarantee, if your rings should rust or tarnish, you can return them for polishing or replacement. Our 5 year guarantee also covers you if your finger size changes. We will then provide you with another Damascus steel ring free of charge. That's the Titanium-jewelry.com guarantee. It's why you should always purchase your Damascus steel rings from us.

WHY BUY DAMASCUS STEEL RINGS FROM TITANIUM-JEWELRY.COM ?

Our Damascus steel rings are guaranteed for life.

damascus steel wedding banddamascus steel ring with wood
At titanium-jewelry.com, we want to provide you with the best selection of Damascus steel rings and best customer experience for buying your Damascus steel rings. But that's not all. You'll soon discover how eager we are to do what it takes to add you to our growing list of 65,000+ happy customers! Why? Because we want to be your jeweler for life.

With our Damascus steel rings, you can enjoy beauty and durability at an affordable price. Our Damascus steel rings are made by a skilled craftsman who artfully blends both modern and classic styles. We carry Damascus steel rings with inlays of precious metals such as Yellow Gold, Rose Gold and Sterling Silver. They feature patterns like the Flat Twist, Zebra, Tiger and Basket and many other variations. Some designs feature other materials like wood inlays and gemstones. Each of these options adds to the unique signature style Damascus steel rings can offer you.

Would you like a one-of-a-kind Damascus steel knife to compliment your Damascus steel rings from Titanium-jewelry.com?
Here's a list of Damascus steel bladesmiths that will surely impress!

DAMASCUS STEEL ARTISAN BLADE SMITHS:

Bruce Bump - www.brucebumpknives.com
Kevin Cashen - www.cashenblades.com
William Henry Studio - www.williamhenry.com
John Jensen - www.jensenknives.com
Bob Kramer - www.kramerknives.com
M. Miller - www.mmilleroriginals.com
Conny Persson - www.connyknives.com
Doug Ponzio - www.ponziodamascus.com
Shane Taylor - www.taylorknives.com
Devin Thomas - www.devinthomas.com
Trails End Knife Company - www.trailsendknifecompany.com

REFERENCES:

ARMA: A Layman's Understanding of Damascus Steel by Parker Brown, www.thearma.org

JOM:The Key Role of Impurities in Ancient Damascus Steel Blades by Verhoeven, Pendray and Dauksch, 1998. www.tms.org

NYTimes.com: The Mystery of Damascus Steel Appears Solved by Walter Sullivan, 1981. www.nytimes.com

Discover Magazine Blog: Carbon Nanotechnology in an 17th Century Damascus Sword : Not Exactly Rocket Science by Ed Yong, 2008. www.discovermagazine.com

The Washington Post: Bill Moran, 80; Damascus Steel Bladesmith by Joe Holley, February 15, 2006. www.washingtonpost.com

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