Like pattern in wood they are similar but all different. Today’s Mokume-Gane craftsmen bring their skills to combine metals such as as titanium, platinum, iron, bronze, brass, nickel, silver, and various colors of karat gold including yellow, white, sage, and rose hues as well as sterling silver. Creating a unique marbled or rather “wood grain” effect in the metal.
Like many jewelry and metal forging techniques…they date back many centuries. Mokume-Gane was the brainchild of superb craftsman and innovator Denbei Shoami (1651-1728), who lived and worked most of his life in Akita Prefecture of Northwest Japan. Denbei Shoami was influenced from swordsmith techniques of forge welding which he adapted to nonferrous laminates. These could be joined together to create patterns similar to that of lacquer work. He later named this pattern Mokume-Gane.
His oldest work in Mokume-Gane was used in the Kizuka (sword hilt) using relatively soft metals of gold, silver, Shakudo, and copper. Metal sheets were stacked and carefully heated creating a solid billet of simple stripes which could be forged and carved to increase the pattern’s complexity.
Today’s process typically use modernized aids such as a temperature controlled furnace and a hydraulic press to compress the materials. Still the art and science of metallurgy create beautiful and unique patterns each with their own signature much like the grains in wood.
Here are a few examples with various metal combinations.
Prices range due to varying materials and intricacy of the design.