This is part 2 of an article written by my friend Mark Mann. It was published in 2004 in a magazine that unfortunately no longer exists. Mark has kindly allowed me to post this here.
By Mark B. Mann
Technical Contributions by James Binnion, James Binnion Metal Arts, LLC, Bellingham, WA
Last month, we reviewed methods and techniques used by James Binnion to design and manufacture mokume gane jewelry. In this installment, we review installation methods of the rails and liners on his mokume-gane bands and common service features associated with mokume-gane articles of jewelry.
Rails and Liners
Rails and liners are terms used to describe edge trim pieces and the inside solid flat surface of a single alloy for mokume gane bands. They are optional features on James Binnion’s mokume gane bands and here are some examples of how his products are offered:
This band has no rails or liner and the mokume gane pattern is visible from all views.
There are yellow gold rails on each side of the band and the pattern remains visible on the top and inside ring views. The rails provide a single-color design element on each side, essentially framing the mokume gane pattern.
This band has yellow gold rails and a liner. The pattern is visible from the top view. The liner enhances engraving possibilities on the inside of the band making it easier to read. Occasionally certain individuals may have a sensitivity to one or more of the metals in a mokume gane laminate and the liner (made of gold or platinum) inhibits direct and constant contact with those alloys and this can alleviate the sensitivity issue.
Installation Techniques for Liners
Caption – This palladium white gold and sterling silver mokume gane band is being prepared for a 14-karat palladium white gold liner. Here it is mounted in a lathe and the cutting tool will create a flat surface inside the band.
The inside edges of the shank are then chamfered. The palladium white gold liner is made to specifications and after precise fitting, it is inserted and mechanically pressed into the band then flared on each edge.
Installation Techniques for Rails
For this palladium white gold and sterling silver mokume gane band, grooves are cut on the sides and 14-karat palladium white gold rails are precisely fit. The rails are wired to each side and the band is prepared for soldering.
Beads of 14-karat white gold easy solder are evenly placed around the seam between the rail and the band. A hot air gun is used to dry the flux and to secure the beads of solder. The ring is placed on a custom stand and soldering is completed.
Mokume Gane Jewelry Service Considerations
Like most jewelry products, mokume gane jewelry may require sizing and alteration to meet customer’s special requests. Here’s a quick guide to handling mokume gane for the retailer:
- Sizing – Binnion Metal Arts offers sizing to retailers carrying his products. The ring sizing is accomplished through compression and expansion to fulfill the sizing requirements. Since ring sizing gauges and ring mandrels differ, Binnion provides brass sizing blanks marked with the ring sizes for his customers. They are calibrated to Binnion’s studio mandrels for precise sizing results. By performing the ring sizing through expansion and contraction, the pattern remains consistent around the ring.
- Custom Orders – Binnion accepts custom orders for his mokume gane jewelry. He creates and provides CAD (Computer Aided Design) images to his customers for easy viewing of the custom designs.
- Finishes – Binnion Metal Arts produces several finishes on their mokume gane jewelry. Jewelers can easily reapply the finishes after wear or they can be returned to Binnion’s studio for refinishing.
- Gemstones and Settings – Gemstones and settings can be added by jewelers using standard soldering and setting techniques. Flush setting can be done in the mokume gane as well as soldering for settings.
- Display – With daily handling (set up and take down of displays) mokume gane jewelry will need to be periodically cleaned. Binnion provides easy cleaning instructions or offers to clean the products free of charge.
Mokume gane offers a unique product category for retailers. The metal combinations, colors and patterns created in mokume gane jewelry are endless, so it’s virtually impossible to have two items alike. Although wedding sets are designed to be complimentary in color and pattern, each is a singular work of art.
James Binnion has been a jewelry designer and metalsmith for over 20 years. He established James Binnion Metal Arts in 1991 to refine the art of mokume gane. His line includes earrings, pendants and cufflinks in addition to his wedding, engagement and commitment rings. To find out more about mokume gane and James Binnion Metal Arts, visit www.mokume-gane.com. For questions related to mokume gane, contact James Binnion at firstname.lastname@example.org. For questions related to Binnion’s mokume gane jewelry products, contact Terry Binnion at 360-756-6550 or by e-mail at email@example.com.