Important information about meteorite rings

Being able to wear something that’s 4,566,300,000 years old and that came from space is mind-boggling. Meteorite rings are unique, beautiful and the story behind them is truly amazing.

But there is some important information you need to consider before deciding if this kind of ring is really for you.

Nickel allergy risks

Meteorite rings contain nickel, around 8.4%. The unique way the nickel crystal structure form after being slowly cooled down over a million years in zero gravity is what makes the beautiful pattern in the Muonionalusta meteorites. However, nickel is bad for humans. You might already have, or develop an allergy to it with long term exposure. Please read up on nickel allergy and how it might develop over time before deciding to get a ring.

To reduce the amount of nickel released onto your skin each ring is delivered with a surface coating, either of microcrystalline wax (“Renaissance Wax”) or with a bottom coat of durable resin and a top coat of “Everbrite ProtectaClear”. The coating will wear down over time and you will need to apply a fresh layer now and then to keep the protection intact. It’s better to apply a layer or two too often than not often enough. Both options give a good protection from too high nickel exposures, as long as the coating is properly maintained, but they give different surface finishes, affecting how the ring looks and feels. Further down, you can read about the two coating options and how they differ from each other.

Still, it’s important to keep in mind that meteorite rings are made to be worn occasionally and on special occasions only. We do not recommend using them as your primary wedding band. The risk of developing nickel allergy is directly linked to the length of exposure. In addition to maintaining the coating, and wearing the ring only on special occasions, we highly recommend selecting a ring with a liner*, this reduces the nickel exposure, as less skin is in direct contact with the meteorite. It also makes the ring feel “warmer” on the finger and it can make the ring more comfortable to wear. As mentioned below, the lining also reduces the risk of rust development.

*A liner is a second material that has been added to the inside of the ring.

If you gift this ring to someone you must give them this information along with all other information on this page!

A ring with a Carbon fiber – weave liner

Rust

This type of meteorite is mainly comprised of iron, which is a material that rust when in contact with water and oxygen. If you get a scratch on the ring apply a fresh protective coat as quickly as possible to prevent rust from forming. This is especially important to do immediately if you have the ProtectaClear coating, so that no moisture has time to penetrate the ring and be “locked-in” when a new coat is applied, otherwise rust can form and grow beneath the surface coating.

Our rings are delivered with a surface coating, either of microcrystalline wax (“Renaissance Wax”) or with a bottom coat of durable resin and a top coat of “Everbrite ProtectaClear” to prevent rust and protect your skin to a certain degree. The coating will wear down over time and you will need to apply a fresh layer now and then to keep the protection intact. It’s better to apply a layer or two too often than not often enough. Both options give good protection from rust, as long as the coating is properly maintained, but they give different surface finishes, affecting how the ring looks and feels. Further down, you can read about the two coating options and how they differ from each other.

A ring that was worn for an extended time without any maintenance nor was it removed before doing wet/abrasive activities (This ring had the ProtectaClear coating option)

We offer the option of adding a liner* (such as carbon fiber) to the ring. We highly recommend this as it greatly helps prevent rust forming on the inside of the ring (the most common place for it to form). It also makes the ring feel “warmer” on the finger and it can make the ring more comfortable to wear. As mentioned above, the lining also reduces the nickel exposure, as less skin is in direct contact with the meteorite.

*A liner is a second material that has been added to the inside of the ring.

Variations in finish

Iron meteorites are not completely homogenous. They have small cracks and inclusions* throughout the material which can lead to variations in finish.

These inclusions are rare but we think this makes the rings even more unique and interesting. If you don’t, please be aware that there is a chance your ring might end up having these, and this is not a valid reason for a return or refund.

A visible inclusion

During the making of the ring, small cracks might be discovered. These small cracks can lead to the ring breaking during the lathe turning operation. The risk of this happening greatly increases as the thickness is reduced. Therefore we normally don’t make super-thin rings. Adding a liner to the ring does make it easier to reduce the thickness as the meteorite has increased support. If you request this we will try our best to accommodate your wish, but we have to “listen” to the material during the process and perhaps stop reducing the thickness of the ring to avoid ruining the precious material. Please note that a thicker ring than requested is not a valid reason for a return or refund.

Small cracks can also lead to small pieces falling off at the edges during production. That is why we specify a +-1mm variation in width to give ourselves leeway to try and remove these. In some cases it’s simply not possible, in which case we will try to fill them out with resin to make the ring feel smooth. Please note that this is not a valid reason for a return or refund.

Color variations – Due to the slight variations in the composition of both the meteorite and chemicals used in the etching process the final color will vary from ring to ring. They can range from dark black to goldish to bright. Small rust-colored patches and/or rust-coloration along cracks may also appear during the process, these will not cause deterioration of your ring and are considered a normal variation.

A ring with rust-colored streak along a crack

Please take a look at the image gallery to get a good picture of the variations on already made rings. Please note that this variation is normal and is not a valid reason for a return or refund.

*Pockets of other materials than iron or nickel, such as gallium, germanium, iridium, chromite, daubréelite, schreibersite, akaganéite or troilite.

Maintenance

How often you need to apply a new coat will depend on how much you wear the ring and what you do while wearing it. This is not a ring that’s intended for every-day use, and it requires some special attention. Take off the ring before any contact with water, cleaning agents, chemicals, alcohol, etc. Sweat from your hands as you wear the ring will over time affect the coating as well. You should, therefore, remove the ring if a situation will cause your hands to sweat more than normal (eg exercising). You should also remove the ring when doing anything that can cause abrasions or scratches to the surface coating. If the protective layer has been worn or damaged, apply one or more new coats according to instructions for your coating type.

If maintenance is not kept up with, the ring may rust. If this happens you may be able to clean off and re-coat the ring, but if the rust is really bad the ring might need to be sanded and etched again. Following the instructions above about situations when the ring should be removed and keeping the coating in good condition will keep your ring from getting rust damage. Any scratches that penetrate the coating may also scratch the meteorite itself. The meteorite is made mostly from iron (and nickel), which is harder than gold, but softer than titanium. Penetrating scratches may “muddy” the pattern in the ring, even if the protective coating is re-applied. If the ring’s pattern has been damaged, it may be possible to re-etch the ring, but it’s a better practice to avoid this altogether by removing the ring while doing anything that could damage the surface. Re-etching may give a different result than the original.

The different coating options

We offer two different coating options – Renaissance Wax or ProtectaClear. With your ring, you will always get a tin/bottle of the coating, so that you can maintain your ring. We recommend the Renaissance Wax, as the maintenance is so much easier, and more repairs are possible without re-etching, making ownership more care-free, even with more frequent maintenance. If you have any questions about which coating to choose after reading this text, please contact us and we’ll try to guide you to the best choice for your situation.

Short pros and cons for the two options

Renaissance wax

  • Super easy and quick to maintain
  • Natural, metal, feeling
  • Less glossy surface
  • The ring might become lighter with use
  • More frequent maintenance required
  • Deep scratches don’t spread rust and are easier to repair
  • Light rust removal can be done by the owner without leaving visible difference in color without the entire ring being re-etched

ProtectaClear

  • No color change as long as maintained properly
  • Smooth, warm, feeling
  • More glossy surface
  • Less frequent maintenance required
  • Difficult and time consuming to apply new coats
  • Deep scratches can spread rust and be very difficult to repair
  • Rust removal will almost always leave visible difference in color if the entire ring is not re-etched

Renaissance Wax coating

This coating is developed by the British Museum to protect its priceless and unique antiques (read more about it on this website). It’s made to protect the materials from oxidation by penetrating the surface of the metal and creating a protective barrier, without affecting the look and feel of the original material. Unlike other waxes, Renaissance Wax does not stain or discolor with aging. When Renaissance Wax is used to protect a meteorite ring, you might notice that the ring will become lighter in color with initial use/wear. This is because the oxide layer created when etching the ring is not sealed in by the wax, and will therefore gradually fade with use. The unique meteorite pattern will not be affected, as the metal is protected by the wax treatment. The Renaissance Wax can be compared to a wooden table that has been oiled/waxed – it doesn’t change the feel of the wood much, but it is more susceptible to damage. On the other hand, it is easy to repair, and moisture can’t penetrate and spread beyond the scratch. It needs more frequent maintenance in the form of applying a new layer of wax, but this process is very easy and requires no particular skill, just a bit of cloth and a couple of minutes of your time. We recommend that you give your ring a fresh coat of wax after every couple of day’s use. If you haven’t used your ring at all, we still recommend a fresh coat of wax to be applied at least every three months. There is no downside to having many layers of Renaissance Wax on the ring. It’s better to apply a layer or two too often than not often enough.

Applying a new coat of Renaissance Wax

If the ring is very greasy, you should give it a quick wipe over with a rag dampened with paraffin, or wash it with water and mild soap and dry completely, before applying the new coat of wax. To apply the wax, use a soft, lint-free, cloth, free from chemicals and other waxes. Apply a thin coat of wax with light pressure. Let sit for a couple of minutes, then lightly buff, removing excess wax. That’s it.

ProtectaClear Coating

The ProtectaClear coating will give a deep and glossy finish, offering a smooth feeling with less metal characteristics. As long as the coating is properly maintained, the ring will not change in color with use. The ProtectaClear can be compared to a lacquered wooden table – it’s tough, but if a scratch penetrates the coating, moisture might penetrate and spread underneath the coating, and it might be difficult to “repair”. This coating is specifically designed for jewelry and the manufacturer claims that this coating seals off the jewelry and makes it hypoallergenic (read more about it on their website).  There is no downside to having many layers of “Protecta Clear” on the ring. It’s better to apply a layer or two too often than not often enough.

Applying a new coat of Protecta Clear

Before applying a new coat clean the ring with isopropyl alcohol. If you do not have access to that then you can thoroughly wash with the ring in mild soap, rinse completely with water and dry off as quickly as possible with a lint-free material. Avoid touching the cleaned ring with your bare fingers as oils can prevent the coating from properly bonding to the surface. Simply apply on a thin layer using a small paintbrush or by swiftly dipping the ring into the solution. Hang the ring on the tip of a needle and let it dry. During the first minutes check that no drops are forming, if they do; remove the drops by absorbing them with a paper towel. You can add a new layer after around an hour. After you’ve applied the last layer let the ring dry for a day. You can find more information on https://www.everbritecoatings.com/ProtectaClear.htm

Finding your ring size


It is
very important that you get the correct ring size, as our meteorite rings are very difficult or even impossible to resize.

All sizes on our site are in millimeters, the size of a ring is given as the inside diameter in millimeters. If you live in a country that uses non-metric units of size, please use a conversion chart from a trusted source to get the size in millimeters. Double and triple check as it’s not possible to resize a meteorite ring using traditional means.

If you do not know your ring size you can try on different size rings until you find one that fits, you can borrow some from your friends or family. Then use a good quality caliper set to mm and carefully measure the inside diameter (in a pinch, you can use a ruler, but this won’t be as accurate). Please note that our rings are either “standard fit” or with a slight “comfort fit”, so you should make sure that your “sizing ring” is not a full comfort fit, as this will give you too small a size.


Another good way to find out your size is to go to your local jeweler and have them help you find your size. If possible, go to two different places to make sure the sizing was made correctly. Please note that most ring sizers that jewelers use (as shown above) are quite thin, and if you’re planning on ordering a ring that is over 8 mm wide, you should try on a wide ring when you determine your size, as wider rings can feel tighter on your finger.

The last and least accurate way is to take a piece of string and wrap it around your finger. When you have a loop that you feel is a good size, mark the place where the string overlaps. Unroll the loop and measure the length of the string. This will give you the circumference, divide the number by pi, this will give you the diameter. We do not recommend this method, as it’s very uncertain if you get the correct size or not.

 

Authenticity

Iron meteorites are composed of iron-nickel alloys, and some, like the Muonionalusta, display a curious feature called a Widmanstätten pattern.

A Widmanstätten pattern is comprised of intersecting lamellae (bands) of
kamacite and taenite — two nickel-iron minerals with different nickel-iron ratios. These crystals formed in the material when it was cooling through the “dark red hot” temperature range. The size of the lamellae depends strongly on how slowly the material cooled through that temperature range. In order to form macroscopic lamellae like these, the material had to be cooling at a rate in the range of 100 – 6600 °C per million years (Reference) and in zero gravity.  These conditions cannot be created in a laboratory. In fact, about the only imaginable conditions that would create large masses of red-hot nickel-iron alloys that cooled at a rate of order one degree per millennium would be the core of a small protoplanet. (It couldn’t be the core of a large planet; Earth’s own core is cooling at a rate of ~100 °C per billion years)

While the vast majority of meteorites do not exhibit a Widmanstätten pattern (because they are stone meteorites, too rich or poor in nickel, or cooled at the wrong rate), the subset of meteorites that do have this macroscopic pattern (a couple of percent of all findings) are the ones that are the easiest to identify as a true meteorite beyond any reasonable doubt.

More sources:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012821X11003694

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012821X10003651

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0009281909000038