Compared to other aspects of culture and compared to other countries, Western jewelry trends did not hit Japan until recently. That also means that Japanese style jewelry maintained its authenticity and evolved without influence until about 150 years ago. Western jewelry sometimes does not match with Japanese clothing and for the Japanese, traditional jewelry contained a practical component – sword fitting, combs, chopsticks and other types of pins.
There are some unique items to be found in vintage Japanese jewelry. Damascening, the technique of inlaying metals into one another (like gold and silver to create a dark and steely background with intricate patterns), is a traditional Japanese art, but started as a way to decorate weapons like swords. Vintage Japanese jewelry can be spotted as having this type of dark, oxidized background with a hand-chiseled design in the gold. The art of decorating metal has transformed into a beautiful art form and is responsible for some of the most beautiful pieces of jewelry in Japan’s history. Significant motifs for the Japanese include pagodas, mountains and cherry blossoms, all of which can sometimes be hinted at or found on necklaces, bracelets and amulets.
Japanese Shakudo is also a Japanese technique used for jewelry. Shakudo refers to low gold content alloy and was used to decorate certain amulets and jewelry. Because there were traces of gold – small traces – the pieces exhibited a blue or purple hue. The delicate process led to many eye-popping and breathtaking brooches and decorative jewelry.
More recently, Japan’s jewelry industry is flourishing and produces an estimated $30 billion annually. Japanese culture has embraced an infusion with the west and produces many wedding and bridal items as well, which typically asks for a higher price. It is often imported to countries like the United States of America, holding unique qualities and special combinations of gold and bronze.
Sometimes Japanese jewelry may contain kanji, the language’s characters on a pendant, ring or bracelet. This has become a trending item more so in western culture as consumers have demanded more Asian characteristics to distinguish international jewelry from domestic pieces. As the Japanese pride themselves on pure craftsmanship and perfect customer service, jewelry is a thriving industry with plenty of high quality products available.
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