The Surprising History of the Mokume Gane Technique

Ancient Japanese Technique of Mokume Gane

Inspired by fabled Damascus steel sword making of the 9th century, Mokume Gane techniques have been used to create distinctive Japanese metalwork pieces for over 500 years.
Decorative patterns were hand-hammered and fired to craft the handles and sheaths of Mokume Gane katanas. The intricate artisanship meant that these pieces were status symbols in feudal Japan – especially in samurai society. Today, you’ll most often find this art showcased in Mokume Gane jewelry

What Does Mokume Gane Mean?

The word “Mokume” translates to “wood eye” and “gane” means “metal.” Looking at Mokume Gane jewelry, it’s a superb way to describe the distinctive wood-like patterns that run through each piece.

The Mokume Gane Technique

First, layers of precious and semi-precious metals are forged into a solid Mokume Gane billet through extremely high heat and pressure. Though copper, silver, and gold alloys were typically used in feudal Japan, palladium and platinum are increasingly popular Mokume Gane metal combinations.
Mokume Gane Billet

Once the Mokume Gane billet is formed, it’s hammered by at least 50%. This is the most crucial part of the process because if these metals begin to fall apart, the process is ruined. The carving and subsequent forging of the Mokume Gane metals is repeated until the desired pattern is obtained.

Mokume Gane Rings, Necklaces, & Earrings Take Shape

Once the patterned metal is flattened, filed, and bent, it’s shaped much like other conventional fine jewelry pieces.

The last steps involve finishing Mokume Gane jewelry with a matte, satin, or sandblasted veneer (or acid-etching) to show off the color contrasts. Acid-etching provides more definition to the pattern. This is also the time to include an engraving. 

Why This Technique Is So Important

While each artist has their own unique vision and chiseling techniques, many modern jewelers actually design “Japanese folded metal rings” – not Mokume Gane like they claim.

Jaume Labro is different: Our artisans only use a traditional hammer, chisel, and heat to create true Mokume Gane jewelry. 

Jaume Labro Mokume Gane

The Impact of Mokume Gane Jewelry

Haze mokume Gane Ring

Over the last few decades, Mokume Gane jewelry has experienced a dramatic increase in popularity. Modern consumers desire exceptional, one-of-a-kind pieces – especially when it comes to Mokume Gane engagement and wedding rings. 

Men’s Mokume Gane Rings

Yugen Mokume Wedding Band

Surprisingly, men’s Mokume rings are the fastest growing trend in this field. With unique, masculine options for each band, this ancient technique creates enduring metalworks that stand up to regular wear and tear (unlike standard gold alloys).

Matching Mokume Wedding Bands

Uranus & Ourea Matching Rings

Another major request from customers has been matching wedding rings. Forged from the
same billet, whichever Mokume Gane pattern you choose will be expressly yours and yours
alone. No two creations will ever be identical, just like the bond shared between your loved one.

Jaume Labro: Jewelry with a Conscience

Not only are Jaume Labro fine jewelry pieces crafted with exceptional workmanship, but
they’re also created with love and respect using the best sources possible.

Ethical Gold

Recycled Gold Jewelry Maker

Gold mining takes an enormous toll on mine workers (e.g. child labor, health issues) and the surrounding environment. In order to create something beautiful, it must come from a place of respect.

That’s why we pay close attention to our sources and use purified, recycled gold (which is as perfect as freshly-mined gold) and purchase from groups like Fairmined and the Alliance for Responsible Mining. That means your Jaume Labro jewelry builds up communities rather than
destroying them.

Ethical Diamonds

Making Mokume Gane

Our fair trade diamonds are traced using the Kimberley Process, but when we purchase our gemstones, we go one step further.

To ensure there’s no worker exploitation or environmental damage, Jaume Labro personally
visits each mining site. Our company can trace each ethical diamond’s journey directly to our workshop.

Discover Fine Jewelry Pieces by Jaume Labro

Your Mokume piece likely commemorates an extraordinary, significant event in your life. Whether you choose a simple or elaborate design, our expert techniques and knowledge will help you every step of the way.

Browse through our Mokume Gane engagement rings or create one of your own with the help of
our expert designers.