Knives are built for utility and longevity, and occasionally, the blending of those two leads to beauty. Materials like Damascus steel, mother-of-pearl and Swiss walnut not only hold up to daily use, they’re also visually appealing, making for something you’d be proud to use in the field, then one day pass along as the next generation ventures out. By virtue of excellent construction, timeless design and robust materials, these knives are all worth keeping in the family.
Buck 124 Heritage Frontiersman
The Frontiersman, with its shiny black Micarta handle and polished aluminum guard, is beautiful. It eschews more modern looks for the sake of proven tradition, and the 420HC Steel blade provides excellent corrosion resistance and great durability. With a 6.25-inch blade length and weighing in at 13.3 ounces, it’s a “don’t mess” knife that future generations will covet.
Helle makes some of the most beautiful knives on earth. They’re simple tool knives meant for daily use, crafted with gorgeous natural materials. The Blåfjell (Blue Mountain) is a true hunting knife with a dark oak handle with solid cast brass trim for great heft and feel. The 5.1-inch blade is a plain edge with a straight back and a Scandi grind, ready for all types of field use.
Boker 588 Damascus
With Damascus steel in an “Odin’s Eye” pattern, the 588 Damascus is a traditional fixed-blade hunting knife that also happens to be ready for a pageant. The 180 layer steel is eye-catching, as is the Belize Ziracote wood that’s both super dense and water repellent. The guard and the pommel are both made with solid nickel silver.
Case Genuine Mother of Pearl Mini CopperLock
This is a cowboy special if we ever saw one. Case is steeped in a tradition of western style and easy pocket carry, and their CopperLock uses reflective mother-of-pearl in the handle for a singularly gorgeous look. It also uses nickel silver rivets for long life and comes engraved with “Case XX” on the rear bolster. Carrying it might not make you a cowboy, but it sure does make you feel special.
Victorinox Rangerwood Damascus Limited Edition 2015
Gone is the red plastic and the shiny blades, despite the familiar Swiss tools present. Instead, the Rangerwood gets a Swiss walnut handle and a Damascus steel main blade with finger jimping. There’s even an inlaid stainless steel Cross & Shield logo, which doubles as the blade lock release. Production is kept to only 300 pieces in the States; if you can snag one, it’s just the kind of tool you need to open that 2009 bottle of Opus One Napa Valley Red.
Boker Anso 67 Wild Carbon Damascus
Boker delivers again, but this times goes dark. The carbon fiber handle has a “wild” look (rather than a standard weave pattern) and is contoured for comfort in the hand. The black 250-layer Damascus steel blade (with boomerang pattern) matches the handle, and both the clip and titanium frame lock get a complimentary satin finish. Each knife is handmade in Solingen, Germany — to the tune of a mere 100 units worldwide.
Rockstead is in the business of making some of the best knives in the world. Their high prices are backed by impeccable craftsmanship and high-end materials. The HIGO’s YXR7 carbon steel, DLC-polished blade is both dark and sophisticated — hand ground repeatedly before the carbon-coating process. And the dark ironwood scales are works of art, all by themselves. It’s one of those knives you’ll be hard pressed to actually use — not because it can’t handle it, but simply because it’s too damned beautiful.
Fallkniven consistently makes some of the most innovative, tough and handsome knives in the world; as expected, the NL3 ticks all three of those boxes. This boasts the world’s first laminated VG10 steel with 420J2 steel sides — and it’s not a gimmick, but a combination that provides torsional strength, edge retention and durability together as one. The handle is made with brutally tough oxhide, and each NL3 is handmade. With a 5.9-inch blade and a 9.9-ounce weight, it has heft to go along with the good looks.
SOG Bowie 2.0
It’s the best of both worlds. The big Jim Bowie-style blade, at 6.4 inches, gets high-tech AUS 8 steel with a tough black titanium nitride finish, and the handle consists of stacked leather washers that have been infused with epoxy for toughness and a touch of flair. The Bowie 2.0 has it roots in Special Forces use, so you know it’s not just good-looking — it’ll perform in the harshest of conditions.
William Henry Spearpoint Sable
William Henrys are not cheap, and there’s good reason why. Each knife matches attractiveness with functionality — if you dare use the “art.” The Sable’s handle is made with aerospace-grade titanium inlaid with rich carbon fiber. The spearpoint blade is crafted in ZDP-189 steel, a rare choice that’s incredibly strong, hard and chip-resistant. The decorative touch is the smoky quartz thumb stud and button lock — chosen as gorgeous punctuation marks on one stunning knife.