The History of Mokume Gane:
From Swordmaking to Fine Jewelry
- the kozuka, a small utility knife which fit into a pocket on the wooden saya
- the tsuba, a Japanese sword guard. Most preserved Mokume Gane objects from this period are tsuba.
Denbei Shoami: Father of Mokume Gane
The history of mokume gane starts with Denbei Shoami. Denbei Shoami was a superb Japanese craftsman who received permission to use the name Shoami from Shoami School (founded in the late 1500s in Kyoto). He was also supported by the Satake clan – which was then Daimyo (大名) – in the Akita region.
From Guri Bori to Mokume Gane
At first, Shoami named his technique Guri Bori because the pattern was similar to Guri, one of the Tsuishu techniques in lacquer work (Urushi) that originated in ancient China.
It’s unclear whether Denbei Shoami was trying to achieve what we know today as Mokume Gane, or if he was attempting to imitate the Urushi lacquer technique. However, we do know that early in its history, Shoami’s technique was referred to as Guri Bori.
The Earliest History of Mokume Gane
What Does Mokume Gane Mean?
Mokume Gane can be translated as “wood eye gold.”
Mokume Gane’s Evolution
Bringing Mokume Gane to the Western World
Although the basic technique concept hasn’t altered dramatically over the centuries, greater scientific understanding has resulted in more advanced equipment and designs. That said, the best Mokume Gane pieces cannot be achieved by large manufacturers or assembly lines. It’s important to look for small, specialized studios run by artisans who are dedicated to mastering this art form by using hammer and heat alone.
Mokume Gane Jewelry
While Mokume Gane is an ancient metalworking technique, its use in jewelry making is a fairly recent development – and is rarely paired with gemstones. With Jaume Labro’s bespoke jewelry creation, each piece is entirely handmade using traditional Mokume Gane techniques. Our exclusive mokume engagement rings as well our mokume wedding rings and bands are growing in popularity due the quality, craftsmanship and history behind each piece.
Discover how our artisans fuse ancient methods, modern designs, and unparalleled gemstones to create our Mokume Gane jewelry.
If you want to know more about the history of mokume gane and the future of the technique, we will be glad to share the same passion with you.