Koi - Ginrin KohakuKoi - Ginrin SankeIf any one class of Nishikigoi could truly be said to be a "living jewel", then it must surely be the Kinginrin varieties with their shimmering gold (kin) and silver (gin) scales. The overlaying of gold on the hi and silver onto white or sumi body colour produces a dazzling effect to which newcomers to the hobby are particularly drawn. The purists though would point out that these shiny scales can blur the pattern edges. Although great strides have been made in recent years with some truly stunning Kinginrin Koi with clear well defined patterns being produced, Kinginrin, usually shortened to just Ginrin in speech, are today seen in most varieties.

The big three, Kohaku, Sanke and Showa, predominate, however, the black and white of Utsuri and Bekko are well worth seeking as are the
metallic varieties on which the glittering scales overlaid on the shiny metallic base, produce another dimension in Nishikigoi.

Kinginrin scaling appears in two basic forms, those which appear in relief on top of the scales and those which appear set under the scales.The first type is the Pearl Ginrin also known as Tsubo-gin or Tama-gin on which the shiny centre of each scale stands out in relief giving the appearance of individual pearls laid on the body. Pearl scales are also often interspersed with the "flatter" types making good examples a rarity. The other drawback with this type of Ginrin is the tendency to become dull as the Koi grows, but they can be most striking when small.

The second type occurs in three forms. The first being Betagin, here the whole surface of the scale is covered with a sparkling iridescence giving almost a Mother-of-Pearl effect. Considered to be the finest Ginrin this type often suffers from uneven and scattered placement. The best examples are those on which the scaling covers the back and sides of the Koi completely. Diamond Ginrin also known as Hiroshima Ginrin after the area in which it was first found in 1969, as the name suggests, here the scales sparkle like the gemstone and have the appearance of cracked ice radiating outwards from the base of each scale. With the back and sides being neatly and evenly covered in Diamond scales a Koi of startling brilliance is achieved. This type is often considered coarse by the Japanese whose tastes are perhaps for a more subtle elegance.The last type is Kado-gin meaning edged, also known as Sudar-gin. Here only the scale edgings are sparkling, often making the scales look pointed, this is the least favoured type of Ginrin as it produces an uneven effect.

Koi - Ginrin Showa Koi - Gin Rin Shiro UtsuriWhilst identifying the various types is all very well in theory, in practice however, it is often difficult to accurately distinguish between the types of Ginrin, with the possible exception of the Pearl type. As Ginrin scaling can often be a combination of more than one type on a single Koi, the safest option is not to be too clever, hedge your bets, just call them Ginrin. In appreciating Ginrin varieties, good even shiny scaling on the back and extending down the sides is a major factor. However, one must not overlook that the Koi should also have all the qualities looked for in its no- Ginrin cousins in terms of shape, skin quality and the pattern of the particular variety. Indeed, it has long been a topic of discussion amongst judges when assessing Ginrin classes as to the priority between Ginrin scaling and the general requirements of the variety in question. Whilst good Ginrin scaling is a prime requirement, this must not be at the expense of a poor pattern, conversely a good general pattern will not make up for poor and patchy Ginrin. The ideal would be the best of both worlds in terms of sparkling Ginrin scaling, overlaying onto a correct pattern, an ideal seldom achieved and as with most things compromise has to be the order of the day.

Common faults among Ginrin are lack of all-over shiny scaling, particularly along the dorsal ridge from the back of the head to the front of the dorsal - this less fleshy area is often devoid of Ginrin scales. Scattered scales are another fault all too often seen as are koi with just isolated Ginrin scales randomly positioned. A good general rule of thumb here being if you can easily count the number of Ginrin scales the Koi cannot be considered true Ginrin. With the availability today of Ginrin in an ever increasing number of varieties. most ponds will benefit from their addition. but don't overdo it with these "living jewels" in order to keep a balance to your collection.

Stan Collinge