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    Knives as Art: Craftsmanship and Style

    By William Henry November 6, 2019

    From functional and life-sustaining tools to emblems of strength and style, handcrafted knives have become the quintessential instrument for the modern-day warrior. Behind a luxury knife’s razor-sharp utility and flawless aesthetic lies an enduring tradition of hand-engravers, silversmiths, and other highly-skilled artisans keeping the craft alive. 

    The advent of laser and machine engraving increased access to these sharp cutting devices but dwindled the need for imaginative artistry and decades of experience offered by knife makers. William Henry is on a mission to restore the purity of knives as an art form, as well as delight and inspire with exotic and sustainably-sourced materials that tell a captivating story.

    High-quality metal alloys and gemstones are only as good as the craftsman who molds and shapes them into an exemplar of ingenuity and technical prowess. We utilize ancient techniques to harken back to a simpler time and create inventive and daring designs on our handcrafted knife blades and handles. Explore more of the long-established knife-making techniques that we employ at our studios below.

    Fine Hand-Engraving

    Fine hand-engraving is a time-honored craft that requires multiple years of experience and refinement. Old-world engravers didn’t have the luxury of computer-aided design or our contemporary engineering innovations. Aspiring apprentices had to seek mentorship and spend years honing various engraving techniques. The slow and arduous process of learning the trade was eased with newer tools and processes.

    Hand-engravers use a basic technique called “push graving,” in which an engraver uses a hardened and sharpened steel tool called a graver to push through the metal’s surface. Simple, but refined hand engraving requires an adept mastery of motor control and pinpoint precision. Oftentimes, a small and lightweight hammer may be used to create deeper and more vivid details on the surface of a metal.

    Gravers are strong and durable implements with sharpened edges at specific angles meant to create various cuts on metal. As a masterful engraver pushes the graver forward, curls of metal spew from the sharpened edge leaving behind a smooth groove. Artisans hold the graver in various angles throughout the cuts to create thick and thin gradations in the line. These gradations come together to paint a bold design.

    William Henry carves all of their metals by hand with plain, but effective tools and techniques. Our first-rate silversmiths spend long hours in the studio crafting breathtaking and sleek carvings in hard materials such as sterling silver. On top of these artisan-crafted metals, we add a splash of precious stones and the finest gold available to add a luxurious and timeless touch.


    Parkerization of steel is used to protect the surface from corrosion and improve its toughness. We use an ancient Indian technique called “koftgari” to inlay fine gold and silver designs into parkerized steel or iron surfaces. William Henry's koftgari comes from two small villages in India, home of the very few Indian artisans that still master this technique. These heated metals are pounded into a flat surface to create a distinct shape and carve grooves on it.

    During the koftgari process, knife-makers must create a precise cross-hatch grid in the steel, which acts as a base for the fine gold or silver. After the cross-hatch grid has been created, fine gold or silver can be burnished into the pattern and be bound by the craftsman’s fine markings. After hammering and polishing the surface, the pattern is imbued as an enduring legacy.

    This ancient decorative art technique was originally created by the Mughals in India to emblazon their weaponry. Today, it can mark our most indispensable tools. The term koftgari refers to the beating technique used to flatten the pattern onto the iron or steel. Koftgari techniques differ from region to region and artisan to artisan. Regardless of differences in techniques, knife makers can create stunning motifs displaying years of acquired skill.


    At William Henry’s studio, we source all of our materials and techniques from the best artisans in the world. Our commitment to legacy and art led us to the discovery of Maki-e, an ancient Japanese technique used to decorate exquisite surfaces. The tried-and-true technique consists of sprinkling gold or silver powder onto a smooth lacquered surface using a fine brush.

    This decorative technique was first used in the Heian Period (794-1185) and flourished thereafter. While this ancient practice was primarily used to decorate household wares, it quickly developed a reputation as a luxury and refined art form for the wealthy. Maki-e artists use a variety of metal powders to create different hues and textures on a smooth surface.

    An expert Maki-e artisan must spend years, sometimes decades, learning the skills necessary to mix powders such as silver, copper, gold, platinum, or brass onto a blank canvas to create an idyllic or magical representation of life. After refining the technique, artisans can freely and proudly call themselves an exceptional Make-Shi (artist).

    The magic of Maki-e art lies in the Urushi lacquer derived from the sap from the native Japanese Urushi tree. This Southeast Asian sap is often collected by hand from over 600 different Urushi species. Then, the sap is painstakingly processed to create the Maki-e lacquer we all know and love. This adhesive base keeps the entire design in place.

    Maki-e’s technique requires craftsmen to use fine brushes to create multiple layers of lacquer, artwork, and inlaid metal flecks. This time-intensive project showcases an unrivaled ingenuity for using various materials in the most precise manner when we apply the technique to our luxury knives. The combination of these techniques produces the mesmerizing and refined William Henry knives available in various styles and designs.

    William Henry's artists take decades to perfect their hand engraving, koftgari, and maki-e techniques to craft dazzling and fresh designs over our blades and handles. Every inch of a William Henry knife features unique and handcrafted details that are a testament of our materials’ resilience and our penchant for groundbreaking artistry. Knifemakers are continually developing their unique artistic style to connect the user with the knife and its remarkable origins.


  • Articles

    10 Exotic Jewelry Materials You Never Knew Existed

    By William Henry November 4, 2019

    Innovative and striking jewelry pieces can confer a sense of wonder and adventure to any individual. From hand-forged metals to exotic woods, jewelry materials can transcend style, elegance, and artistry. Only an exclusive cadre of artisans take painstaking efforts to source the finest and rarest materials in the world.

    Whether you’re drawn to organic materials or tough metals, there is a treasure trove of exceptional mediums that can speak to your inner spirit. Skilled craftsmen begin with an inspired design that comes to life with a range of alloys, woods, and gemstones. If you want a jewelry piece with a story as unique as yours, consider these materials you never knew existed.

    1. Fossil Dinosaur Bone

    Bones can remind us of our mortality, but fossil dinosaur bones remind us of the earth’s enduring and biodiverse legacy. Fossil dinosaur bone is one of the most exotic jewelry materials available today. Although most dinosaur bone develops a rock-like consistency, truly skilled artists can turn the 100-million-year-old hardy bone into a jewelry accent that tells a story.

    William Henry uses fossil bone from ancient Apatosaurus found in the American Southwest. Wearers revel in its vibrant red, green or brown hue, and grainy texture. Owning a piece of jewelry with dinosaur bone provides you with a captivating history and one-of-a-kind craftsmanship.

    2. Fossil Woolly Mammoth Tooth

    While not as old as a dinosaur bone, a fossil woolly mammoth tooth goes back at least 10,000 years. From cave paintings to your wardrobe, woolly mammoth representations span a range of cultures and time periods. A woolly mammoth’s molar tooth features a striped chewing surface that can vary from piece to piece.

    Our fossil woolly mammoth teeth are harvested off the Alaskan coast. Each piece must dry for at least two years before our artisans can begin to process it. After an extensive drying period, the tooth is stabilized with acrylic resin, sliced, and polished to perfection.

    3. Fossil Mammoth Bone

    From its teeth to its bones, woolly mammoths provide artisans with plenty of storied materials to work with. These Paleolithic artifacts can adorn a statement jewelry piece by showcasing our ability to coexist with these majestic creatures. William Henry’s fossil Mammoth bone features a dark brown, wood-grain-like pattern that can make any piece stand out.

    4. Fossil Coral 

    Organic materials in jewelry connect you deeper with your ecological roots. 110,000-year-old fossil coral comes from Florida quarry mines and onto your wrist or neck. Our personal relationships with vendors have enabled us to source hand-picked fossil coral featuring intricate scales that are typically used to make cement. Instead of being turned into a cold, hard, and impersonal object, fossil coral continues to advance life in your wardrobe.

    5. Zinc Matrix Apple Coral

    Zinc matrix apple coral has an exquisite burnt orange and shimmering gray pattern. Found in southern China and neighboring countries, apple coral is a species of coral known as melithaea sponge. While most coral reefs are an unavailable commodity, melithaea sponge corals are an overlooked, but highly impressive, jewelry material. William Henry infuses the sponge with zinc to create a mesmerizing and original pattern.

    6. Spalted Tamarind

    Spalted wood can be a sign of death or disease in a tree, but as the circle of life comes to an inevitable end, the woods produce a unique color and pattern. Found in tropical Africa, Mexico, and South America, the spalted tamarind we use features a bold golden yellow hue. Who knew that a bushy tree originating in Africa could adorn your everyday accessories?

    7. Eyrie Vineyard Pinot Vine

    Sometimes, the best and most exclusive materials come from esoteric sources. If you’re a wine lover, you’ll appreciate our jewelry made with Eyrie vineyard pinot vine. The Eyrie vineyards are known for producing the first American pinot noir that could hold its own against the rich French pinot noirs.

    Maintain the remarkable legacy close to your heart with one of our limited edition writing instruments made with 35-year-old wood from those celebrated grapevines. Carry the hard work and dedication of these wine-makers in your very own William Henry piece today.

    8. Meteorite

    Meteorite makes for a show-stopping ice breaker. Wear something that is truly out of this world when you don a meteorite-infused jewelry piece. We use Gibeon meteorite from Namibia that has been used for many years by locals to make tools and weapons.

    Meteorite’s nickel-iron crystalline structure contains cobalt and phosphorus producing an extraterrestrial pattern. Each piece of meteorite is unique. Look towards the future and beyond with meteorite-inspired necklaces, bracelets, or cufflinks.

    9. Blacklip Mother of Pearl

    Blacklip mother of pearl is not like your typical mother of pearl. In fact, it is one of the rarest pearls in the world. Our finders source these diminutive shells from French Polynesia. Each shell carries an iridescent sheen over a black backdrop.

    10. Snakewood

    Snakewood has all the charm and none of the bite of an actual serpent. Its snakeskin appearance is just the tip of the iceberg. This Suriname-sourced wood has a rich red color that will brighten your jewelry and days. All William Henry woods are resin-stabilized for longevity and superiority.

    Exotic and rare materials are not easy to come by. In fact, there is only a handful of people that can find these precious fossils, shells, and woods to create one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces. They don’t come from a supply warehouse. These unique materials are a result of the stories that bring us together.


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