2017.05.29 - Experiments
Discovering the Legacy of Milgrain: A Jewelry Design Technique Rooted in European Tradition

Milgrain is a fascinating jewelry design technique that has been handed down through generations in Europe. The name of this technique, which means "one thousand grains" in Latin, refers to the rows of tiny metal beads that are laid out beautifully on the lines and edges of rings and other jewelry, giving them a unique and exquisite look.

18k Gold-Platinum Diamond Necklace. 19th century.
Platinum-18k Gold Emerald Diamond Brooch. 19th century.
Evolution of Jewelry Making and the Role of Milgrain in the Democratization of Jewelry

The history of jewelry making in Europe is characterized by custom-made craft works for the privileged classes, such as royalty, nobility, and the clergy. However, with the industrial revolution of the 18th century, jewelry became accessible to the moneyed classes, and by the end of the 19th century, it had become a ready-made product sold over the counter.

The arrival of platinum as a new precious metal and the expansion of materials in jewelry making allowed this craft to permeate all social classes. Milgrain was one of the most noteworthy techniques in platinum jewelry of this period, with its primary purpose to soften platinum's bright white glare.

The Rare Art of Milgrain: A Meticulous Craft Perfected by Skilled Artisans

Milgrain work requires a high degree of precision, which was originally done by pressing a roller with a series of indentations on the edge of a jewelry piece. Over time, this became a manual process that is carried out by skilled craftsmen.

At kataoka, every single grain is worked by hand, using a tool called a beading tool to engrave each point as though pressing it in carefully. The craftsman must work their way around the piece, and each bead has a diameter of about 0.2 mm. The beading tools are numbered from 0 to 22, and each is used separately according to its size.

The execution of milgrain work is judged by whether or not beads of a uniform size, roundness, and depth are lined up at regular intervals. Milgrain is a genuine craftsman's skill, and the only way to acquire this technique is by building up sensation in the fingertips through repeated practice on copper sheets. In due course, the number of artisans who possess these advanced techniques will be limited.

kataoka's Milgrain Jewelry: Timeless Heirlooms

kataoka is a company that holds a deep passion for the art of jewelry making. For them, delicate and fine jewelry is more than just a product; it is a symbol of traditional craftsmanship that speaks of practiced skill and enthusiasm. We are committed to preserving the legacy of artisanal jewelry-making by blending traditional Japanese aesthetics with Western techniques, resulting in a unique and timeless jewelry line.

Yoshinobu Kataoka, the founder of the company, has infused his own Japanese subtlety and attitude into the milgrain technique, creating jewelry pieces that are not only visually striking but also possess a lasting quality. The expression of milgrain is one of kataoka's answers to the world flooded with mass-produced commodities, as its dignified beauty and formidable presence only deepen with the passing of years. Each piece carries a unique story that embodies the perfect balance between elegance and longevity, making for a beautiful and meaningful collection that can be cherished for generations to come.