Much of the mokume gane made at Maxwell West Design is made from sterling silver, copper, and shibuichi. Shibuichi is a traditional Japanese alloy of silver and copper, and produces the darkest bands of color. Copper and copper alloys react with skin in different ways. These reactions range from having no noticeable effects to actually etching away the molecules of copper. In these extreme cases, the copper layers may, over the course of years, actually etch away to reveal topography-like patterns in the surface of the mokume.
The patterns on a piece of mokume gane jewelry are most visible when the jewelry has a satin or matte finish. High gloss finishes make it difficult to see the patterns easily. This matte finish can be easily produced by rubbing the piece with a green scotch brite pad in a circular pattern. This may lighten the pattern by removing surface oxidation.
Also, chlorine and iodine will attack the surface of silver alloys, so it is best to remove silver jewelry before swimming in chlorinated pools. People in health care professions use iodine regularly and this can affect the look of silver jewelry. If discoloration occurs due to chlorine or iodine contact, it can be removed easily, believe it or not, with Paul Mitchell #3 shampoo! All silver jewelry tarnishes over time and must be polished to keep it looking beautiful. All Maxwell West Design jewelry is sold with a small rouge cloth for this purpose. Enjoy!