Mokume-gane, or wood grain metal, is a metal with wood-like patterns. The value of modern wood grain gold craftsmanship is not just the word “wood grain”, but the craftsmanship inherited over hundreds of years. There are not many people who are willing to inherit this craftsmanship, and even fewer go to Japan to be an apprentice. The mokume-gane products made by traditional methods in Japan are especially precious.
Mokume-gane is a Japanese metalwork technique born in the Edo period. After the war era, it was used to decorate the appearance of the samurai sword, symbolizing the identity of the samurai class. However, after the Meiji Restoration and Westernization movement in Japan, the decline of the samurai class and the abolishment of swordsmanship made the Mokume-gane craft industry a big blow. However, at the same time, Mokume-gane was applied to different objects, such as various utensils and other daily necessities. Now many Japanese national treasures and cultural properties are works of this period. Nevertheless, Mokume-gane is not as flourishing as before compared with the Edo period.
In modern times, Japan recovered from defeat and became a major manufacturing and exporting country, becoming the world’s factory at that time. Mass production has become the mainstream of daily necessities production in Japan. The traditional craft industry has been hit hard by the competition of modern production, and the mokume-gane technique has almost faded. After Japan’s economic bubble burst in the 1990s, people began to reflect on the material era of the past and shifted importance to cultural and spiritual enjoyment. Various cultural and artistic industries are gradually being reborn. At this time, the European and American Institute of Metalworking and Jewellery interested in mokume-gane which makes mokume-gane be valued on the international metalworking art stage. Thanks to the efforts of many craftsmen and artists, the mokume-gane was reborn. Labro from Spain was also attracted by this craftsmanship. He learned from the Japanese wood-grain gold national treasure and moved to Japan to promote the mokume-gane technique. Mokume-ganecraft is no longer just for the rich and powerful, but it becomes the proof of each couple’s love, making a pair of exquisite craftsmanship and unique mokume-gane ring.