Mokume Gane

Combination of Great Beauty and Artist Intention

People have always appreciated beauty and uniqueness in all things. This appreciation is perhaps most evident in jewelry. Jewelry has always been a form of self-adornment as well as self-expression. Humans, with their long history with jewelry, have always treasured whatever piece of jewelry they possess both for their beauty and uniqueness, and for their value.

There are many ways of crafting jewelry. Some methods are more modern while others are infused heavily with tradition and the knowledge of which is handed down from generation to generation. Some methods put a twist in the old ways, and what was old becomes new. The method of making Mokume Gane jewelry is just one example of old traditions being fused into new ones.

Mokume Tsuba
Mokume wedding
Mokume Tsuba
Mokume wedding ring

What is Mokume Gane?

Mokume Gane is a Japanese term that literally means "wood eye metal." It is an old method of metalworking that was invented in the 1600s by master metalworker Denbei Shoami and was used to create adornments on the handles and the hilts of katana, the swords used by the samurai class in medieval Japan. The samurai class was once the ruling class of Japan in its medieval ages, and even within that class, status and wealth are important. Such marks of status and wealth can be seen in the adornment of their katana.

The method of adorning metal with the use of Mokume Gane results in patterns on the metal that mimics burls or grains on wood. It is a beautiful and unique pattern that somewhat echoes the harmony of nature as embodied in wood, but with the strength and polish of metal.

The samurai class may all be dead in this modern age, and the demand for katana is now limited to collectors and to people who practice martial arts as some sort of hobby. Nonetheless, the art of metalworking embodied by the Mokume Gane endures. It is now used to create fine, unique jewelry and other objects of art.

The Process of Making Mokume Gane

Traditionally, the process of making Mokume Gane involves the fusion of different sheets of metal alloys. Modern creators of Mokume Gane jewelry and art objects have introduced changes to the traditional ways, but nonetheless, the basic process remains the same.

Originally, gold, copper, and silver are the metals used in making Mokume Gane, although today, metals considered to be non-traditional in this form of metalworking are now included as well. These non-traditional metals include titanium, platinum, iron, nickel, and bronze.

Basically, what happens in the process of making Mokume Gane is that sheets of metal with different colors are layered together in such a way that these sheets would fuse together but not completely melt and meld together. This fusion is created with controlled heat and pressure. These fused sheets of metal would result in a solid block of metal with stripes, called a billet.  After the billet has been formed, it is usually hand-cut to produce the desired wood-burl patterns.  The modern technique makes use of computer software to guide the metalworker in carving out the desired patterns.

After the patterns have been cut, the billet is then hammered, forged and rolled to flatten it and to reduce its thickness. Then, it is shaped to whatever object the metalworker desires it to be, be it for jewelry or any other objet d'art.

The Beauty of Mokume Gane Jewelry

The art of making Mokume Gane jewelry is derived from the ancient art of adorning swords.  Jewelry made in the Mokume Gane style nonetheless has a look to it that is contemporary, comparable to pieces made during the art deco era.

Mokume Gane Jewelry

Tsuba With Mokume

Price: $562 USD

About the Author

David Weitzman

The jewelry artist David Weitzman combines ancient and sacred knowledge into a unique line of jewelry designed to bring people both beauty and inspiration. David's artwork harnesses the power of spiritual symbols and sacred geometry from around the world to bring those wearing this sacred jewelry happiness, vitality, excitement, and love.

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David Weitzman is the force behind Ka Gold Jewelry. David has a vast knowledge in the fields of Kabbalah, Sacred Geometry, Ancient Egyptian wisdom, Jewish tradition, Tibetan Buddhism and other sacred concepts. David's work harnesses the power of spiritual symbols to bring those wearing them happiness, vitality, excitement, success, and love.

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