Have you ever heard of the mokume gane jewelry-making technique? Most people have not. The name is a little hard to remember so it isn’t much talked about. Mokume gane is an ancient Japanese “wood grain metalworking technique” and is pronounced moe-koo-may gah-nay.
It was originally developed to make high-end swords (1651-1728) and ultimately became a symbol of status for those who owned one. In the late 1800 s, Tiffany & Co. started mastering the process and won several awards in Paris but later moved on to continue developing their signature silver collection.
Today, we are happy that the mokume gane technique has been revived by several metal smith jewelry artisans. The process generates unique patterns and designs and when coupled with precious stones, the results are spectacular
Here is How it Works
Jewelry designers who work with this technique know the best metal combinations to achieve the desired look. The process is so versatile; it can be used for complex engagement rings or even simple wedding bands. Lisa Krikawa, award-winning jewelry designer, explains, “We start by laminating together precious metals in different colors then set in a kiln in near-melt temperatures. Think of it like a stack of paper that is compressed and melded together with high heat. When it is rolled out, it is then forged, twisted or ground depending on the look we are trying to achieve. Once the metals are manipulated, the gorgeous grains and patterns are revealed. The process creates unique results that our clients love.”
Create your own unique mokume gane ring
Whether you’re in the process of getting engaged, married or simply want to treat yourself to a luxurious piece of handcrafted jewelry art, here is how you can get started. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
- Select your metals or request a colorization
When you’re not completely sure what works the best, ask your jeweler to show you different combinations. They know what works the best. The most common metals are: platinum, palladium, golds (white, yellow, rose or green), and sterling silver. Some metals show best with certain skin tones and you’ll also want to select them based on their durability and your lifestyle. You would not want to choose soft metals if your activities require hours of handling hard objects, for example.
- Precious stone or no stone?
The result of this beautiful technique is amazing with or without a center or accent stones. Your budget can dictate what will work for you. Gemstones and diamonds come in all colors and prices, so it is probably best if you narrow down your choices so it doesn’t become overwhelming. Colors are very personal and it is important to select the colored stones that will go the distance and delight you for years to come.
- Request a mock-up
Nothing builds confidence more than seeing a rendering of your design before it is made. Excellent jewelers will have on-site software that can create the design on-screen so you have a crystal clear idea of what you are buying. This is the perfect time to make any alterations, so don’t be shy. After each change, you should receive an additional mock-up for review. Take your time to ensure every detail matches your vision.
- Add a sentimental inscription
If this ring is being designed for a special event, such as a wedding, engagement or anniversary then why not add a little phrase, date or whatever will remain significant for the duration? Every time you look at or wear this outstanding creation, you will be reminded to be appreciative and grateful for what you have.
The mokume gane is gaining in popularity around the globe. The finished pieces will always look original because they are hand crafted, so they will never look like they are off-the-shelf. But be careful and make sure to find a jeweler who has developed the necessary skills and experience to produce the ring of your dreams.
By Sandra Faleris, Marketing professional and writer.