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A question about Damascene


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Hi. I've just been reading about Damascene work. Thanks for so much detail Fred.


Two questions.


Is all Damascene work Japanese?


And if they say K24, does this mean just the picture is 24 karat? Or the whole thing (base metal)?


I came across some chain-link cuff links at a garage sale (estate sale). They are very old, and I snapped them up (because they were pretty!). I didn't notice the K24 bit until I got home. One of the pairs has K24 stamped in a gold box underneath the picture scene. The other has K24, done in the same Damascene style, on the fob part of the cuff link.




I'm guessing these might be worth more than the $2 per pair that I paid for them ??


Any help you can give me would be much appreciated.


Regards, Sandy.

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Hi Sandy,


"Is all Damascene work Japanese?"


Damascene work has been done by several cultures. As the name indicates the origin may have been Damascus. It was introduced to Spain during the Moorish occupation of southern Spain and superb work was created during the 19th century for armor and other decorative items. Damascene work is still being produced in Toledo to this date.


The Japanese damascene or nunome zogan work of the late 19th century is of exceptional quality and can be identified by the fineness of work. Damascene work is still being produced in Kyoto, Japan.


Korea also has used the damascene process to decorate metalwork.


There are contemporary metalsmith thoughout the world who have found an interest in using this technique in their work and the steps required to do damascene work are being spread through workshops and online forums.


"And if they say K24, does this mean just the picture is 24 karat? Or the whole thing (base metal)?"


The items I have seen marked K24 are all Japanese and the maker has not been identified. The karat of the gold metal varies. The gold is only used for the decoration of the iron background and to goldplate the fittings that hold the decorated iron plates.


Your cufflinks probably date to the 1920s and as late as the 1950s. The second set was probably made prior to the first set. The blackened iron plates with the gold and silver decoration are applied to the gold plated cufflink findings with an adhesive much like liquid nails. These were made for export to the Western market. Sometimes you might find makers marks stamped into the backs of the fittings.


Hope this helps,


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