Japanese shakudo plaque earrings, circa 1870 – 1880. The Japanese metalworking technique of shakudo involved creating an alloy of copper and gold, inlaid with a range of coloured alloys set into a dark base which is usually very black in appearance. The range of colours achieved by the Japanese craftsmen was far greater than that known in European work of any period. The technique was developed by the Samurai sword-makers for the decoration of the sword-mounts and guards, but the same type of work was also found on decorative items, especially after samurai were banned from bearing arms in 1876. Here the Shakudo iroe [coloured picture designs] depict storks surrounded by cherry blossoms. The earrings are silver with gold wires and measure 1 and 3/4 inches by one inch. Immaculate.