The history of mokume-gane
From the late 1600s to mid-1800s Japanese swords were a symbol of wealth and power, often associated with ancient warriors in battle. It was during this period the mokume-gane technique originated to create the decorative handles and sheaths of these distinguished swords.
This time-intensive technique delivered a wood grain-like pattern that became highly revered and the loftier one’s social status, the more decorative the sword was required to be. A ‘forge’ was used to fuse the metals, creating strength and durability untapped by one metal alone.
Despite its prestigious role in feudal Japanese times, by the twentieth century this technique was nearly lost, due in part to the difficulty in mastering the mokume-gane process, but also Japan’s focus away from handcrafted work. It was a process of complexity — the successful fusing of metals and ability to join layers with integrity proved near impossible to master. Centuries of generational teachings largely came to an end. Only a sprinkling of Japanese metal-craft enthusiasts and scholars were familiar with the technique. It is in recent years that mokume-gane has been given a modern resurgence. This former status symbol is now finding its way onto wedding rings in the modern-day.