Mokume-gane (木目金 Mokumegane?) sometimes spelled Mokume-game,is a mixed-metal laminate with distinctive layered patterns. The translated meaning is burl metal. The name was borrowed from one type of pattern created in the forging of swords and other edged weapons.
First made in 17th-century Japan, the mixed-metal was used only for sword fittings until the Meiji era, when the decline of the katana industry forced artisans to create purely decorative items instead. The inventor, Denbei Shoami (1651–1728), initially called his product guri bori for its simplest form’s resemblance to guri, a type of carved lacquerwork 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. This was useful in the traditional techniques of fusing and soldering the layers together.
Modern processes are highly controlled and include a compressive force on the billet. This has allowed the technique to include many nontraditional components such 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.