Mixing Metals

Characterized by the use of contrasting metals in a single piece, the technique of Marriage of Metals is a popular process used by jewelers to achieve a multi-colored design on a flat surface. This particular technique is a puzzle-like method of assembling metals of different tone or color. Brass, silver, copper, nickel and bronze are all well suited for this process.

Marriage of Metals uses an inlay technique to create a design with positive and negative spaces  that are formed with different types of metal with different colors. One metal is used to fill in the negative space of another. The technique can be used to create a variety of interesting designs and can even be used to give the illusion of depth in a flat piece. A more dramatic effect can also be achieved with different patinas and oxidation techniques applied to the piece.

I used this particular technique in my own work to create a pendant in which I soldered together different metals to create a faceted design. I created the piece first by sketching out a design comprised of different colored triangles that sit next to each other in a randomized pattern. I cut each of these triangles out in different types of metals (brass, copper, and nickel to be exact) and soldered each of them together to form the larger design. As I cut out each piece in metal, I used the cut pieces to trace the next one, so that each sat perfectly flush next to each other. I filed down and sanded the pieces to create a perfectly flat surface and finished it off with a copper backplate and an oxidized finish.

marriage of metals

The final product.

Marriage of metals can be used to create an endless amount of interesting and intricate designs and the technique is used by many professional jewelers to create fascinating work. Here are a few examples to check out!

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Aaron Willoughby

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Chikako Ando

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Catherine Hills

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Geoffrey D. Giles

Want to make your own original marriage of metals pendant? Hone your sawing and soldering skills at our upcoming Mixed Metals Pendant class and create your own designs!

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