Meteorite is one of the most popular materials that Patrick Adair Designs uses for its rings. Many are consumed by its fascinating properties and origin, but what exactly is meteorite? What is the difference between a meteorite, meteoroid, and a meteor? There are many types of meteorites that have graced the earth's surface and in this blog post, we will talk all about this captivating material originating from our solar system.
Meteorite, Meteoroid, and Meteor: What's the difference?
Before we go in depth on meteorite, it is important to distinguish between these three things: meteorite, meteoroid, and meteor. All three of these things are related to the flashes of light known as "shooting stars" or "falling stars" that are often seen streaking through the night sky. In fact, they are all the same object originating from outer space, but we call it a different name depending on where it is while it's traveling through the Earth's atmosphere. According to NASA, meteoroids or "space rocks" are objects in space that range in size from dust grains to small fragments of asteroids. While the majority of these objects come from asteroids, some originate from comets and are of Lunar (moon) and Martian (mars) origins. When meteoroids enter Earth's atmosphere (or that of another planet like Mars) at high speeds and burn up, the fireball streak of lights are called meteors. When a meteoroid survives a trip through the atmosphere and hits the planet's surface, it's called a meteorite. Millions of meteoroids travel through the Earth's atmosphere every day, however a majority of them do not touch the ground. Scientists estimate about 48.5 tons of meteorite falls on the Earth each day. A meteor shower occurs when there are a dramatic number of meteors that fall through the Earth's atmosphere during a given night.
What is Meteorite Made Of?
Upwards of 60,000 meteorites have been found on Earth. We won't bog you down with the exact specifics, but meteorites have traditionally been divided into three broad categories: stony meteorites that are rocks, mainly composed of silicate minerals; iron meteorites that are largely composed of metallic iron-nickel; and stony-iron meteorites (pallasites) that contain large amounts of both metallic and rocky material. Iron meteorite is the most common type of meteorite used in our rings as well as other meteorite jewelry.
Meteorites come in all shapes and sizes. If a meteorite is large enough, it creates what is known as a meteorite crater. A meteorite crater is a impact crater that creates a large bowl shaped basin. One of the most popular meteor craters is located in northern Arizona known as the Canyon Diablo Crater. This crater was formed over 50,000 years ago and is about 3,900 feet in diameter while being 560 feet deep!
The Most Famous Meteorites
Throughout history, many memorable meteorites have touched down on our planet's surface. Some of the most famous include:
The Hoba Meteorite - Meteorites come in all different shapes and sizes. Currently, the largest meteorite known to mankind right now is the Hoba meteorite located in Namibia, South Africa. The Hoba meteorite is 60 tons and almost 9 feet long! It is mostly an iron meteorite with traces of other elements such as nickel. It was first discovered in 1920 and is over 80,000 years old.
The Willamette Meteorite - Weighing in at 15.5 tons and standing at ten feet tall, the Willamette Meteorite is the largest meteorite ever found in the United States. It was discovered in 1902 and was believed to land around 1,000 years ago.
The Allende Meteorite - The Allende Meteorite landed in Mexico in 1969, originally the size of a car before it broke down into smaller fragments. It is one of the most studied meteorites of all time and a prime example of a carbonaceous chondrite.
How Old is a Meteorite?
Meteorites range in age anywhere from 200 million years old to over 4.5 billion years old. The iron meteorite Patrick Adair Designs uses for its products is the Muonionalusta Meteorite originating in Sweden. It happens to be the oldest known meteorite, estimated to be over 4.5 billion years old! The Allende Meteorite is also said to be upwards of 4.5 billion years old which is older than the Earth itself!
Are Meteorites Worth Anything?
Meteorites are typically sold by weight. The actual value of meteorite is determined by a variety of factors including condition, rarity, origin, and appearance. It is important to note that if a new meteorite is discovered, it is first made available to the scientific community for study. Once a new meteorite is classified and analyzed, it is then made available on the commercial market. The process of meteorite being accepted into official scientific literature adds value to the meteorite.
The price of meteorite will vary depending on the source but common meteorites can be found for as cheap as $0.50/gram to $5/gram. More premium meteorites will sell anywhere from $20/gram to $50/gram. Martian meteorites, some of the scarcest meteorites, have gone for over $1,000/gram or more! In comparison, the price of gold is currently $58.02/gram.
Shop the PAD Meteorite Collection
Crafting a meteorite ring is an extremely time-consuming process. Meteorite is an extremely difficult material to work with and requires a lot of attention to detail. As a result, each meteorite ring is crafted with incredible detail and thought. All of our meteorite pieces are truly one-of-a-kind due to the irreplicable Widmanstätten patterns that each piece exudes.
If you are interested in the step-by-step process on how a Meteorite Ring is made, visit our "Handcrafting a Meteorite Ring From Start to Finish" blog post and shop our Meteorite Collection here.