Materials & Processes: Mokume Gane

Mokume Gane designed and crafted at Chris Ploof Designs includes traditional patterns, but we also find inspiration exploring new designs and color components. Many different combinations of metal can be used in mokume gane with gorgeous results, from bold color contrasts to subtle waves of layering. Even in the most delicate combinations such as the white-on-white of palladium white gold and sterling silver, the effect is truly moving. The wearer can spend hours learning the intricacies of the pattern.

Our Mokume Gane rings are a blend of traditional techniques, and state of the art research. We create all of the mokume gane used in our work at our studio. Very few artists practice the technique today. It is a precise technical process that requires a thorough knowledge of the different properties and melting temperatures of the materials used. First, between 15 and 35 separate layers of metal are bonded together to make a solid billet. After bonding, the billet can be twisted, cut and re-assembled, ground down in areas with burs or shaped with punches or chisels. It is then rolled out to a workable thickness, revealing its new patterns, or formed into seamless rings and other jewelry.

Not only do we make rings that are built in the traditional manner (straight pieces of metal are patterned, then bent into a circle and joined together), but we also are the only maker of seamless mokume gane rings. These rings have no seam to interrupt the pattern. The mokume gane used in all of our rings is thick enough to ensure longevity. The inlaid mokume is at least one millimeter thick, and the solid mokume ranges from 1.9 to 2.3 millimeters thick, depending on size and style. We want you to be able to wear these rings for many, many years and are happy to make rings based around custom color and style requests. Please contact us with your specific requirements. Currently, Chris Ploof Designs offer the following mokume combinations as stocked options:

  • 18k yellow gold and silver
  • 14k red gold and silver
  • 14k palladium white gold and silver
  • 18k yellow gold, 14k palladium white gold and thin layers of silver
  • 18k yellow gold and 14k red gold and thin layers of silver
  • 14k red gold and 14k palladium white gold and thin layers of silver
  • 18k yellow and 18k green gold and thin layers of silver
  • 22k yellow gold and Gibeon Meteorite
  • Palladium 950 and silver
  • Palladium 950 and 14k palladium white gold

We do not use copper alloys in our rings. Many people have a reaction to copper, or have slightly acidic sweat that can etch the copper right out of a ring. Whether or not you have a reaction to the copper, it will, when combined with other metals create a galvanic cell, a type of weak, natural battery. This will cause the copper (or any copper alloys such as shakudo and shibuichi) to quickly deteriorate. This can happen in as little as one year. Copper and copper alloys such as shakudo and shibuichi give incredibly beautiful dark color contrasts, but they are not durable. For those who insist on copper alloys in their mokume gane, it is available, but not recommended. All professional makers of mokume gane do not use copper based alloys because of the above.