You may have heard the term "Damascus steel" floating around the past few years, especially when it comes to swords, knives and men's rings. It's a fancy name, for sure, but what does it really mean? Will your wedding band be able to carve a path through the dense jungles of Peru? Will you be able to use it to slay that pesky pet dragon your neighbor lets crap on your lawn?
Maybe not, but Damascus steel has some real value to bring to the table, if you know what you're looking at.
The first thing to know about Damascus steel is where it came from, and what it is. Originally utilizing "Wootz steel" from India, Damascus steel was the name given to a specific type of steel produced for knives and swords. These swords were often sold in and around Damascus, the capital of Syria, and they gained a reputation for their strength, durability and unique "flowing water" appearance.
Scientists have studied ancient Damascus blades and determined that the steel contained "carbon nanotubes." These nanotubes were likely the result of bladesmiths adding certain "biomass" elements into the mix while smelting the steel (we're talking sticks and leaves here, bro. Please get your mind out of the gutter).
Unfortunately for us today, the original methods for producing "Wootz," and more importantly, Damascus steel, have been lost to time. The exact recipe and techniques used in ancient times are unknown and are likely impossible to truly recreate. However, a man by the name of William F. Moran developed a technique called "Billet Welding" in the early 1970s that comes fairly close to the original Damascus steel look and durability; this technique is one of the processes used to create today's Damascus products.
The folding and welding process that makes today's Damascus steel creates the same "wavy water" pattern seen in the blades of old. The pattern was so unique, and many of the blades were of such high quality, that several legends took shape about the "magical properties of Damascus steel." You know the old cliché about the sword that is so sharp, a hair dropped on the edge will split in two? Yep, thank Damascus steel for that.
These blades were so renowned that they even impressed the Vikings. Yes, the Vikings. That's saying something.
Maybe it was the recipe of the Wootz steel ingots, or the process of adding those impurities to the smelting process (as any "Good Eats" fan remembers, adding different metals and elements to the molten steel affects the final product. Things like adding Nickel to add hardness to the steel, or Chromium for shine.... What? I like that show!). Maybe it was something about the forging process that yielded such impressive blades.
What you really want to know is, "Why should I choose a Damascus steel ring?" So we have to ask, "Why wouldn't you?"
To start off, they're not yet as common as other ring styles on the market, and they will stand out when you hit the town. If you're going to wear a ring, why not go for something with flair, something that's as unique as you?
Secondly, there's just something innately primal, raw and manly about them. The history of Damascus steel is rooted in weapons, battle and glory. It's not just some precious metal, kept safe and sound in the vault with all the other shiny baubles. This is warrior metal, working man type stuff. It speaks of strength and power. Does that sound like you?
Thirdly, there is the issue of quality. While not every Damascus product on the market is worth it's salt, properly crafted items offer a level of strength and durability not found in many other products. Sure, you likely won't be using your ring to bash down the gates of an enemy castle, or be dueling to the death with it against a guy with a battleaxe. But you will be going to work, busting your hump at whatever the day brings. Don't you want to know your ring can take the stress right alongside you? Preferably, without cracking or breaking?
That is Damascus steel. A tribute to old-world bladesmiths, a lesson in history. It is old-school quality in the modern age. Here at Manly Bands, we choose to honor that tradition with rings that bear that traditional Damascus look, while still preserving the time-honored quality. These rings are tough, durable and sleek.
Look at the Aspen, a Damascus steel ring with Antler inlay (more on Antler rings in another post). It's sharp, intricate and undeniably manly. This isn't the ring of some sissified nobility hiding on his throne. This is a warrior's ring, the ring of a man who knows how to earn what he wants, and isn't afraid to fight for it.
Mild soap and water works to keep the shine and if you find some friends in the crevices grab a toothbrush and some toothpaste to scrub them out.
Don't forget to stop by our ring size guide and get your Manly Ring Sizer to make sure you know your size first. It'll save a lot of headaches and pre-wedding fights. Trust us...
You know you want one. So, go get it, dear warrior bro!