Japanese Engagement Ring: Mokume Gane
Mokume Gane is a blacksmithing process of combining two different metals to create an intricate pattern of stripes and lines. This was originally used on samurai swords.
History of Mukame Gane
Between the 1600s and 1800s, the samurai swords made a transition from being a fighting weapon to becoming a symbol of someone’s social status. The more intricate the design is, the higher the quality of materials, the higher his stature is in the society.
Now, samurai swords are becoming but ornaments and traditional symbols of goodwill. However, the practice of Mukame Gane slowly made its transition towards engagement rings and wedding rings.
How To Choose The Right Mukame Gane for Your Wedding or Engagement Ring
There are actually different ways on how a Mukame Gane ring is made. The mukame gane wedding ring or engagement ring using the most complicated technique is, naturally, the most expensive kind.
One or two metals are heated in one mold. As the metals melt, they fuse, creating patterns. It is also when they the metals are soft are they carved to form a ring. As the metals become hotter, the patterns become more complex.
This process is done by hand and a blacksmith has to be experienced to be able to do this. The metals must be heated to the point of becoming soft enough to be carved but hard enough to be controlled.
This is the original process used by blacksmiths in Japan in creating samurai swords. This is also the most expensive kind. There aren’t a lot of blacksmiths in japan who forges metals.
Soldering or Brazing
Soldering is the process of connecting two metals by using a third metal (called the solder). The solder is melted between the two metals which sticks the metals together. A welding melts two metals and stick them together for the two metals to stick together when the metals cool. Soldering does not melt either of the metals, it uses a third metals that will bind them together.
Solid State Bonding
Solid State Bonding is the modern technique used in making Mukame Gane engagement rings. It uses mechanical equipment such as the hydraulic press to force metals to follow a mould and to create different intricate patterns. This technique also allows Mukame Gane to have complicated and more intricate patterns.
Mukame Gane Colors and Styles
There are few metals that may be fused or soldered together but a modern technique is now used to color the surface of a metal or highlight the current one by using a patina.
Some jewellers use Roskusho. Roskusho is a compound that can color metals. The metal is dipped into a boiling Roskusho. It is kept under until the color of the metal changes. Roskusho usually turns dark purple.
Roskusho is native to Japan and there are almost no other country that produces this material.
The other alternative is to do Pickling, the process of brightening the existing color of metal. The metal is submerged into a chloride and sulphate solution. This will make components of the metal that give it the natural color to becomes stronger, making the color brighter.
However, if you want to be a purist when it comes to your ring, stick with the original color of the metal.
Designing Your Mukame Gane Ring
Things to Remember
1) Just keep in mind that you should choose two metals that are highly different in color for you to achieve a bright and noticeable pattern.
2) If you are using a Mukame Gane ring as a wedding ring, it is highly encouraged to use sterling silver as a liner. This is because sterling silver is the most affordable but if you are going for durability, go for white or pink gold.
A liner is the “border” of the band. The border does is usually smaller than .6mm in thickness. This may be adjusted, of course, according to your preference.
3) You can use three metals. Using three metals make the design “flow” a bit smoother.
4) Some combinations include white and yellow gold, platinum and silver, platinum and silver, yellow gold and iron,
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