The Rare and Beautiful Metal That Isn’t Gold

roll of bright spangled galvanised sheet metal

If someone mentions ‘rare metals’, what do you think of? Platinum, rhodium, gold? It’s true that these valuable metals are among the world’s most scarce, but artists and designers are desperate to get their hands on the very last supplies of a hard-to-find, decorative sheet metal: spangled galvanized steel.

Big, bright spangled galvanized steel is instantly recognisable by the ‘spangle’ shapes that adorn its surface. With their jagged edges and six-fold star form, these beautiful patterns are similar to those left on windows by frost.

But what are the spangles? And why is the metal so hard to find?

The process of galvanising steel happens when the metal is dipped in a bath of molten zinc, which causes a chemical reaction that leaves behind a coating of zinc carbonate. This is tough stuff, and it’s what makes galvanized steel so good at beating the elements. When zinc cools to below its melting temperature, its scattered atoms snap together in formation, making the trademark, starry markings. Variables such as the cooling speed and the purity of the zinc can all affect the size of the crystallites (spangles), but the effect is always stunning.

Several years ago, spangled steel was a familiar sight. But new processes and a demand for metals with a more even surface and a lower lead content all changed the way steel was galvanized, resulting in a new look metal. The spangles were still there, but not as visible (and beautiful) as they were before.

Spangled sheet steel was about to get relegated to the metal history books when along came the trend for all things industrial. Suddenly, artists, designers and gardeners were clamouring to grab rolls of the glittery stuff. Who wouldn’t want those geometric patterns on their sculpture, cladding or walls?

The good news is that we managed to hunt down some of the last coils of big bright spangled steel on the planet. We have supplied the spangly metal to artists, interior designers and landscape architects, all of whom have been searching for the perfect mix of sparse industrialism and a striking pattern. At Buy Metal Online, we’re one of the last sheet metal suppliers in the country to sell this rare breed of galvanized steel. Once it runs out, it runs out, but for now, it’s still available.

So, there it is: the rare, shiny, beautiful metal that’s not what you think – and of course, galvanized steel prices are much cheaper than gold!

Grab your share of the last of the big bright spangled galvanized steel here.

Spangled galvanized steel sheet has a unique star pattern on its surface.

One of the last coils of galvanized steel with spangles in our warehouse.