Damascus Steel

Damascus Steel Pendant in Stainless Steel

Damascus Steel Pendant in Stainless Steel

I have a new love! That's right. Just when I thought I had seen it all, I found one of the most beautiful cabachons that I ever laid eyes on and it isn't even a rock. It is Damascus steel. In rock language, it looks like a black malachite or psilomelane.

Psilomelane in 14KGF

Psilomelane in 14KGF

Malachite in sterling silver

Malachite in Sterling Silver

True Damascus steel has a very long and mysterious history. It dates back to the 3rd century and possibly before. It was originally called Wootz steel and was made in India and Sri Lanka. However, it was imported into Damascus Syria where it took on the new name. It was there that it was popularized during a thriving weapon making period. But, by the 17th century it had lost favor and the exact method of manufacter was lost.


Today, Damascus steel typically refers to hand wrought steel with the same beautiful visual characteristics. The stunning patterns come about as many layers of metal with different compositions are hand forged and hammer welded together with each new fold in the blank contributing to the intricate patterns.


Some of the best Damascus steel that I have seen can be found here and here. The patterns are so incredible. It is mind boggling to me how it is done. Suffice to say that it requires a very time consuming, demanding skill to create it. 


Damascus steel is made with various ferrous metals- stainless steel being one. My necklace cabochon is stainless steel and the pendant and chain are made with stainless steel, as well.


Not one to shy away from a challenge, I have decided to try to make some cabs myself. I bought a billet (bar) of Damascus steel and will attempt to cut some precabs from it and cab it. I chose a raindrop pattern. The pattern in my necklace is called random.



damascus steel billet

My Damascus Steel Billet - Raindrop Pattern

It won't be easy to do, but I am determined. I have gotten some new tools and should be able to start experimenting this week. As you can see in the pictures above, it should make some very nice cabs!


After I manage to cab a piece, I'll need to drop it in acid to bring out the pattern. The acid used is the same one we jewelers use to etch sterling silver. Because the pattern is created by folding the metal, true Damascus steel should have a pattern going all the way through. I sure hope so!


Wish me luck on my new adventure!