What is the best Damascus steel ring pattern?
The foundation of a damascus steel ring is the pattern
Not all Damascus Steel ring patterns are created equal
With many things in life, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this is definitely true for Damascus Steel rings. That being said, there are a number of things to consider when choosing the right Damascus pattern for your wedding rings. This post will hopefully help you understand the differences between patterns, what to look for and what to avoid.
I think of Damascus Steel ring patterns in four categories – Wood Grain, Geometric, Symmetrical and Water
Wood grain patterns are flowing natural looking patterns made to reflect the essence of wood in metal form. The word Mokume Gane in Japanese literally means “wood grain metal”. These patterns constitute the majority of the Damascus on the market and are characterized by flowing parallel lines with accents of burls or knots to increase the likeness of real wood. Some achieve this remarkably well and others fall short.
Geometric patterns are the inverse of Wood Grain. They are structured, uniform and often repetitive in their features. These patterns provide a modern take on an ancient craft and can be quite striking when done well.
Symmetrical patterns are quite demanding to make but we think the efforts are well worth while. Creating symmetrical or mirror image patterns usually requires multiple forging operations to carefully fold the metal in a very uniform way. These patterns can be organic as in our BOOKMATCHED wood grain rings, or have a tight geometric structure like our REFLECTIONS rings. There is a way that our natural design sensibilities respond to these beautiful patterns which feel familiar and fascinatingly unique at the same time.
Water patterns are the most challenging to achieve and take much skill to pull off. The importance of the flowing movement of the various design elements is even more critical than in Wood Grain patterns. Understanding the way hot metal flows is paramount when forging these patterns. It takes a lot of patience to form patterns that transcend the materials from which they’re made. The intentional use of negative space in these patterns is often what separates the masters from the apprentices.
3 tips to help you make the best choice:
Find photos of a ring you can view from every side, not just one. Many makers repurpose material that was originally meant for knife making, not ring production. When used for rings, this material is characterized by opposing sides of a flat sawn wood grain pattern with simple diagonal straight lines of edge grain connecting them. Quality photos that show a pattern in its entirety are key in choosing a ring you will wear for the rest of your life.
Purchase directly from a skilled craftsman. For my father and myself, this is our art and our life’s work. We make each ring to order, one at a time to incredibly high standards that far exceed what can be achieved by mass manufacturers. A machine can never make real time adjustments to coerce the best possible pattern out of a piece of Damascus. In addition, through working directly with an artisan, their experience and knowledge can be of great value in guiding you to the patterns that fit you best.
Choose a pattern that means something to you. When we create a new pattern we do it purposefully. We usually take our inspiration from some natural material, concept, or experience - whether it is a slab of red oak or a bubbling mountain stream. Then we take that idea and deconstruct the elements within it to recreate their essence in the patterns we make. Designing from scratch for the end product - rings - and not repurposing other Damascus material is how we create patterns that resonate with us in our creative endeavors and you in your life or relationship.
The truest answer to this question is ultimately quite simple. The best Damascus Steel ring pattern will always be the one that you choose to wear on your hand.