Despite the fact that wars are still being fought in our world over land or ideologies, despite the fact that hunger and poverty reign in large parts of our world, despite the fact that natural disasters are becoming more frequent and more intense due to climate change, China and India are still sending rockets to the moon and beyond, satellites from NASA, Europe, not to mention Bezos and Musk are still going into the air.
And what do we get in return? Well… if we keep it light we can say that we get jewelry made from meteorites in return. Called meteorite jewelry in this blog.
Did you know that we have found opal, peridot, and even diamonds in the material that falls to our earth from space? And I don’t mean, from space debris, so rocket parts that fall back to earth while the actual rocket continues to fly to (un)known destinations.
Earlier I reported that we keep it light, but still, something about the theory of those meteorites, so that you understand exactly what it is about.
First the terminology.
If a piece of rock detaches from a planet, such as the moon, Mars, etc., and ends up in orbit around that planet, we call that piece of rock a meteoroid. Shoot that piece of rock out of its orbit and if it starts to roam in the universe, it will become a meteor.
We sometimes see them in the sky as a shooting star or shower of stars. It has nothing to do with a star, but that’s what it is popularly called. If that meteor shoots out of its orbit, the temperature of that rock rises and it ‘wears away’. So it keeps getting smaller.
Usually, the meteor is completely ‘burned out’ when it enters our atmosphere, but if not and it falls to earth, the same stone is suddenly called a meteorite. And it can do some serious damage. Huge craters can form and there is even a theory that a meteorite was the cause of the dinosaur’s extinction.
Types of meteorite
Now that we have had the terminology, we should take a look at the types of meteorites that we have found: specimens that consist exclusively of rock or silicate materials, or of iron (in combination with nickel and cobalt), or a combination of these, which are also called pallasite. Most meteorites are rock meteorites or a combination of them. Only 6% of all meteorites are iron meteorites.
And at that high temperature and the ‘wearing off’ of the meteor, a unique pattern is created for each meteor (easy for recognisability), which is also called a Widmanstatten pattern.
End of class…
Today people are able to find out exactly which materials are in a meteorite. For example, one comes across opals, peridot, and even diamonds, which are often too rare or unprocessable to make jewelry. Meteorite jewelry is usually made from an iron meteorite. But first let’s look at the gems known to us, which we have found in meteorites. With a little imagination we could also call it meteorite jewelry, but again… the gemstones found in meteorites are not used in meteorite jewelry.
Opals on Mars
Opals were found in meteorites that came to Earth from the planet Mars through the universe. And from these finds, scientists became curious, very curious. Opal consists of at least 20% water, and that must therefore occur on Mars, or at least have occurred.
Opal is a gemstone that has bright and shiny colors, which you can compare to an iridescent rainbow. They form when silicon dioxide is dispersed, gets into rock cracks, and hardens there. It can even contain microbes, so life begins.
(silicon dioxide is a silicate, such as magnesium, aluminum, and potassium, which is the main component of sand, clay, stone, soil, and semi-precious stones. About 60% of the earth’s crust is made up of silicon and it is also found in plants, animals, and even water).
A NASA shuttle flying around Mars has discovered these opals fairly close to the surface. They seem to have formed much earlier, when there may have been water on Mars. And that water in the opals could potentially provide a water source for manned missions to Mars.
Peridot in meteorites
Above I explained that there are 3 types of meteorites and in the ‘stone meteorite’ and the ‘combination stone and iron meteorite’ you will find silica, olivine (peridot), and pyroxene. We find meteorites consisting of a huge rock containing iron, with fragments of that olivine and pyroxene inside, which are about 4.55 trillion years old. These are the oldest finds on Earth from space.
The most famous meteorite in which peridot has been found is the Esquel meteorite, from Patagonia/Argentina. In 1951, a farmer wanted to dig a water tank and came across a meteorite. Very inconvenient for him, such a large piece of rock on his land, but scientist Mr. Robert Haag was interested in it and bought it from the farmer in 1995.
That was a clear win-win situation. The farmer got rid of the obstacle and Mr. Haag had in his possession one of the most famous pallasite meteorites, which can come from the moon or from Mars.
Diamond from an ancient dwarf planet
Scientists have found a very old and special diamond that came to Earth from space. They assume that these diamonds were formed after a collision between a dwarf planet and an asteroid about 4.5 billion years ago. They are called ‘lonsdaleite’, with a very rare natural hexagonal shape, and occur in ureilite meteorites.
It is believed that the lonsdaleite in the meteorite was formed by a liquid that was pressed into graphite (a component of diamonds) at high temperature and medium pressure. When everything cooled down and the pressure decreased, the material lonsdaleite turned into a diamond.
The meteorite phenomenon is not a new phenomenon. For hundreds of millions of years, meteorites have been falling from the sky and have been found by humans. Now the question is what does a man do with a meteorite, say from a few thousand years ago?
Egyptian meteorite jewelry
Throughout our human history, there have been people who have seen stones fall from the sky with a fiery ball. They were often regarded as religious objects to be venerated. After all, that object came straight from the realm of the gods.
They also made jewelry or art objects from it. But those were only intended for high-ranking figures. Because everything from heaven represented strength and power, so not intended for the common people.
A good example of this is the dagger, which was found in the tomb of Tutankhamun. The handle is made of gold and precious stones, just like the protective cover. But the material for the blade is made from a piece of meteorite. That must give him incredible power. This knife was probably never used, but it was a (grave) meteorite jewelry.
Another example from Egypt is the discovery of a number of beads made from a meteorite, found in a tomb that is at least 5,000 years old and is located south of Cairo. This meteorite jewelry is very special. The material is very hard, so it is difficult to work. Yet the Egyptian workmen, with simple tools, managed to make such fine beads, from which a meteorite ornament was formed.
These beads are considered to be the oldest iron objects or the oldest meteorite jewelry in the world, long before the Egyptian Iron Age began.
Inuit people and meteorite jewelry
About 10,000 years ago, a large meteorite fell from the sky on Cape York Peninsula in Greenland. Around 1300 years ago, the Dorset Culture people came up with a way to extract the iron that will be in the meteorite.
From the stones around the meteorite, it became clear that many attempts were made to make tools, spearheads, knives, and probably also meteorite jewelry from the iron meteorite.
The Egyptians are not the only ones who discovered the meteorite to make meteorite jewelry and objects. In a grave near Havana in Illinois/USA, beads made of meteorite material were found in 1945.
These meteorite jewelry were made by people from the Hopewell culture, who lived along the rivers in the Northeast and Midwest of the USA between 200 BC and 500 AD. It was not a tribe or a nation, but a collection of nations linked by trade, known as the Hopewell Exchange System.
The meaning of the material meteorite for these peoples is not entirely clear, but it was very important to them because this material could not be found anywhere else.
The Hopewell Culture meteorite jewelry found in the tomb consisted of 22 beads made of iron meteorite. Research shows that the beads were probably made from a meteorite that fell in Anoka/Minnesota and that the meteorite jewelry was traded to Havana/Illinois.
So nice for the researchers that all meteorites have their own characteristics and can therefore be distinguished from each other and therefore recognizable.
Even today, a meteorite remains a rare, special, and sought-after piece of stone or iron. A meteorite of 4.5 billion years old was found in Sweden in 1906 near the Muonio River, and is therefore called ‘Muonionalusta’. It was a meteorite weighing almost 27 kilos and was paid $18,900 by a buyer from Hungary. That is 40 times more than the price of gold per gram!
And that can become a profitable business model for Sweden, as a meteorite falls from the sky every two years in Sweden!
Importance and meaning of meteorite jewelry
As can be read above, many cultures regard a meteorite as something special, as something with a special meaning and power. That is why religious icons, meteorite jewelry such as amulets, and other objects that must radiate power were made from this material.
And not only were power and power attributed to meteorite jewelry and objects, but it was also believed that meteorites had beneficial powers. Iron meteorites are known that if they were encased in meteorite jewelry and were therefore worn by people, they could bring balance and strength to life. And nickel could purify the blood of one who wore meteorite jewelry.
In addition, the metals such as iron and nickel in the meteorites caused these stones to become magnetic. And if you combine that with the fact that the stone came from the universe or the sky and was probably thrown down by the gods, then you can imagine that a meteorite was thought to have magical powers.
Meteorites to make meteorite jewelry from
Certain meteorites are very popular for making meteorite jewelry. Like the Muonionalusta meteorite, the oldest in the world (so far), which consists of iron, nickel, and a little gallium and germanium. It has a beautiful pattern, which looks a bit like the Gibeon meteorite.
The material of the Gibeon meteorite is most often used to make meteorite jewelry. This meteorite was found in 1838 in Namibia, but of course, dates back millions of years. This meteorite consists of iron, nickel, and a fairly large amount of cobalt and phosphorus and has a beautiful etching pattern.
The above meteorites are iron meteorites, but the Seymchan meteorite, found in 1967 in Russia, is a pallasite meteorite, which means there is iron and rock in this meteorite, along with a large amount of iridium, which makes the iron fairly rust-resistant. The material of this meteorite is also often used to make meteorite jewelry.
The same applies to the Fukang meteorite, another pallasite meteorite, which was found in 2000 in Fukang (Xinxiang province in China). It has beautiful olivine crystals, which look like stained glass windows when you look at a flat piece of it. This meteorite sold for $30,000 in 2021.
Pallasite meteorites are rare. Only 1% of all meteorites are pallasites, also because the majority of these meteorites do not survive the fall through our atmosphere.
Back to Fukang, because the circumstances in which this meteorite was found are special. In 2000, a hiker went out and sat down on a rock to eat his lunch. He thought it was just a weird thing. He saw iron, stone, and crystals. He broke off a piece and had this piece of stone analyzed in the USA. And they confirmed it was a Pallasite meteorite.
A real or a fake meteorite?
Suppose you really want to buy a meteorite piece of jewelry after reading this blog (unfortunately FlorenceJewelshop does not have a meteorite piece of jewelry in its collection), how do you know whether you are being offered a real or a counterfeit meteorite piece of jewelry?
Here are a number of characteristics by which you can recognize real meteorite jewelry:
- A real meteorite is magnetic. It contains iron and nickel, which makes the meteorite jewelry magnetic.
- Real meteorite jewelry is expensive, very expensive. Anything that is rare and difficult to craft is pricey. It only pays somewhat if the piece of meteorite that is in your meteorite jewelry is very small.
- A real meteorite cannot be reproduced because of the unique Widmanstatten pattern that each piece of meteorite has. And what makes every meteorite jewelry so unique and beautiful?
- A real meteorite piece of jewelry can rust, because the material is iron, which rusts over time. It may take a while, you can treat it carefully, but eventually, it will rust.
Pieces or slices of meteorite are used in watch dials, as the center band of a ring, or set in a bezel to make a pendant. The jewelry designer is then mainly interested in making the patterns of the meteorite stand out nicely (Widmanstatten). Those stripes in a pattern are actually crystals of iron and nickel, which form a kind of grid in the meteorite and have cooled very slowly.
As a designer, you can make these patterns more beautiful or more striking by cleaning and polishing them well and then placing them in an acid bath, so that the stripes are more visible.
A jewelry designer can also use a very thin slice of the green or yellow silicate crystals surrounded by the iron matrix to make a pendant, for example. The best thing is to allow the light to enter from behind.
In addition to using gemstones that can occur in meteorites such as peridot, opal, and a certain type of diamonds, pieces (not slices) can be placed in a pendant or ring.
After all this information about meteorite jewelry, the question is of course… are you going to consider buying meteorite jewelry. It is rare, is said to give strength and power, provides good balance, and is strong, very strong. It’s a bit pricey, that’s for sure. So what’s it going to be?
Then the question remains… what (meteorite) jewelry looks good on you, makes you look awesome, and gets the most compliments? It is difficult to choose the right jewelry. If you want some help or need tips… ask for my free PDF ‘Accentuate your best features with the right jewelry’. Fill in the form and it brings you straight to the free download.
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