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Mokume Gane Rings

Mokume Gane Rings

The tale of Mokume Gane Rings began centuries ago in the forge of a lone master smith in feudal Japan. Today, you'll find the best of his tradition perfected here, in the most attractive collection of custom designed Mokume Rings ever assembled. From everyday wear to incredible Mokume Gane W...READ MOREedding Rings, history lives on at Titanium-Buzz!

Translated into English, "Mokume Gane" means "wood grained metal" -- take one glance at any of the rings in this collection and you can see why. With beautiful inlays that seem almost delicate, these rings are as mesmerizing as they are deceptive. The swirling, wood-like pattern in each inlay is created from a durable mix of precious metals, forged unique for each customer at a place where science meets art. And the body of each ring? Built from the powerful elegance of titanium.

Bring more of the best techniques of the ancient masters to your fingertips when you check out our truly one-of-a-kind Damascus Steel Rings! And, if you like the look of these inlays, then come with us for a journey back in time when you visit our gallery of Meteorite Rings!

The History of the Mokume Gane Technique

What is Mokume Gane? It's a technique that began, we believe, sometime in the late 1600s in the forge of just one man, Denbei Shoami. Shoami, a master smith living in the northern region of the main Japanese island of Honshu, used a variety of older metalworking techniques to invent an entirely new process for forging layers of different metals together into a single bar or billet. When carved, this hybrid billet revealed striking patterns where the metals had fused together into a swirling arrangement of colors unlike anything that had ever been seen before. Some said the patterns looked like flowing water; others said it reminded them of the movement of clouds; others described it as marble turned to metal; and still others said the result was like lacquered wood.

To create a Mokume Gane billet, sheets of metal alloy are stacked together in alternating layers. This is usually a mix of valuable, malleable metals like gold and silver, or silver and copper, or shakudo (an ultra-pure blend of gold and copper). The sheets often range from as thin as paper or foil to nearly half an inch thick -- the width of each sheet influences the pattern and depends on the skill of the smith.

After being thoroughly cleaned of dirt, oils, and oxidizing agents, the layers are diffusion welded at high temperatures that allow the "joints" of each layer to partially liquefy and permanently blend together, forming a single billet of the mixed alloys. The pattern of these joints becomes visible by carving, chiseling, or sanding into the billet.

Revealing the pattern of Mokume Gane is an art in itself. After achieving a good weld, the billet can be cut, restacked, and re-forged to create even more elaborate patterns, in much the same way Damascus Steel uses extra folds to create complex, wavy styles. Billets can also be milled, twisted, or stamped to achieve unique effects. The possibilities are literally endless.

Complex yet organic, the unique look of Mokume Gane in all of its infinite variety has made it a prized style for a devout following of artists and metal enthusiasts almost since its inception. Fans of Asian history and art can also tell you that some of the finest decorative weapons ever made in Japan were being produced around the time Shaomi invented his technique. As Shaomi began sharing his knowledge with other smiths, many used Mokume Gane to create elegant sword fittings, guards, and inlays for katana blades and other edged weapons. Other early examples of Mokume Gane include vases, bowls, and small pieces of decor.

Due to the considerable difficulty and skill required to master the process, however, only a handful of the most experienced artisans ever adopted the Mokume Gane technique. For this reason, early period Mokume Gane pieces are relatively rare. Throughout much of the 17th and 18th centuries Mokume Gane objects, though well-respected, were little known in Europe and elsewhere except among the most knowledgeable and discerning scholars and art collectors. Even today, Mokume Gane is not as widely practiced as its recently rediscovered cousin, Damascus Steel. It remains a challenge to all but the most talented smiths.

Mokume Gane in the 20th Century and Beyond

In fact, the entire process was nearly lost to history. Confusion over the proper steps to the technique, along with its difficulty, meant that only a bare handful of smiths in Europe and the West attempted to make or were even aware of Mokume Gane items clear until the second half of the 20th century. It was even less popular in Japan, which was in the process of reinventing itself as a modern power with little interest in what was regarded as folksy arts and crafts.

Fortunately for the art, Mokume Gane was rediscovered by American academics in the 1960s and perfected by modern artisans throughout the 1970s and 80s. The style has since exploded in popularity and, despite being a challenging discipline, is more popular today than at any point during its long and elegant history.

All of the Mokume Gane Rings and Mokume Gane Wedding Rings featured at Titanium-Buzz are specially produced by one of the best and most talented American artists in the industry. Each ring is a custom creation that has been crafted unique for our customers. No two of our Mokume Rings, including yours, will ever be exactly the same. From our all-time best-selling Gold and Silver Mokume Gane Wedding Band to the stylish slashes of our Mokume Shakudo Ring, over three centuries of skill and superior craftsmanship lie behind each and every one of these pieces.

We want to work with you! Want to see something that's not already on the site? Whether it's a different combination of alloys, different shapes, or a different style altogether, we want to hear your thoughts! Feel free to contact us with your ideas!...READ LESS
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