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- bridal, custom bridal jewelry, diamond jewelry, Galleria, george sawyer jewelry, mokume gane, Scheherazade
What does ancient Japanese sword making and modern jewelry have in common? Quite a lot if that jewelry is crafted using a metallurgical technique dating back to 17th century Japan. One of the masters of the mokume gane (pronounced moku-may gah-nae) technique of combining metals into jewelry is Minneapolis-based designer George Sawyer. Galleria and Scheherazade shoppers can meet the designer during a two-day Meet the Designer and trunk show event starting Friday, December 5 (10:00 AM to 8:00 PM).
What is Mokume gane
Originally, the mixed metal medium was used exclusively to create sword fittings until the Meiji era (1868 to 1912), when the decline of the katana industry forced artisans to create purely decorative items. Its inventor, Denbei Shoami (1651 to 1728), originally called mokume gane guri bori. In its most basic form guri resembled a type of carved lacquer work with alternating layers of red and black. (Other historical names for it were kasumi-uchi (cloud metal), itame-gane (wood-grain metal), and yosefuki.)
The traditional components were relatively soft metallic elements and alloys (gold, copper, silver, shakudo, shibuichi, and kuromido) which would form liquid phase diffusion bonds with one another without completely melting. Modern processes are highly controlled. This has allowed the technique to include many nontraditional components such as titanium, platinum, iron, bronze, brass, nickel silver, and various colors of gold including yellow, white and rose hues as well as sterling silver. The result is a broader range of jewelry colors.
George Sawyer’s Start
While attending the University of Minnesota, George Sawyer studied art history and sculpture. During his studies he was fascinated with Asian art. After completing his studies George developed design and metalworking skills while working for a company that built specialized racing cars. It was during these formative years of his career that George learned about metal fabrication from the world’s best automotive artisans by day. At night, he studied jewelry design. Combining these skills, George began to design his signature style, patterned-metal jewelry.
As his metallurgical knowledge and experiences advanced, George became one of the first to develop special techniques for creating patterned jewelry metals from colored gold alloys and precious metals. For more than four decades, he has folded and forged precious metals into beautiful patterns that suggest images of wood-grain, swirling water or ancient and mysterious impressionistic forms.
With his palette of multicolored patterned-metals, George creates truly original jewelry ranging from simple wedding rings to complex art objects. In addition to creating incredible mixtures of metals and metal colors, his decades-long passion to this craft has led to the development of many propriety tools of the trade George invented.
Forty years is a long time to dedicate one’s life to a craft. But four decades later George Sawyer has developed a signature technique based on the original mokume gane metal techniques. Here’s what the designer says about his work:
“The material still inspires me as I find new painterly effects and symmetries to explore. Expanding my color palette beyond colored gold alloys, silver and copper to include a variety of shakudo alloys and Japanese roksho patina colors has contributed an additional dimension. Recently, developing my new ‘Koi’ and ‘Wabi-Sabi’ metals with colored golds and fine silver has led to much more subtle impressionistic and abstract imagery. I find it very rewarding to create both materials and finished pieces that are art in their own right. With these colorful, complex, solid patterned materials it is a great pleasure to create art pieces ranging from small wedding bands to large objects. All of our gemstones are conflict free and all of our precious metals are from sources that only use recycled materials.”
Mokume gane Jewelry
For today’s bridal customers looking for unique designs, mokume gane jewelry is a leading choice in design options. As metallurgical techniques advance each year, there are more and more color and patterns to explore. And, George Sawyer is consider one of the leaders in mokume gane jewelry. His jewelry is featured in museums, galleries and fine jewelry stores in the US, Canada and Europe. George is also member of the Society of North American Goldsmiths, the Contemporary Design Group, and twice president of the American Jewelry Design Council, he has received numerous jewelry design awards.
“Moku” means wood and “-me” means eye. If you have an eye for wood patterns and beautifully crafted pieces of jewelry with unique characteristics mokume gane is an ideal choice. Couples like to purchase mokume gane matching wedding bands. And, as the relationship grows and blossoms over time, mokume gane requires very little if any maintenance.
Quite often much attention is given to a woman’s engagement ring and coordinating wedding band. But mokume gane gives a men’s wedding band a unique story that dates back several centuries. A woman’s wedding mokume gane ring can be a perfect match to her husband’s ring, symbolizing a complementary partnership that will last a lifetime.
Mokume gane jewelry can be set with a variety of gemstones, but with its unique patterns and colors, this jewelry has an inherent beauty that stands alone. See for yourself the beauty and uniqueness of George Sawyer’s mokume gane jewelry, from earrings and necklaces to bracelets and rings, December 4 to 5. Support a local designer that has dedicated his career to an ancient Japanese metallurgical process that is capturing the attention of today’s discerning jewelry buyers.