The modern cymbals of a pair are round, slightly conical plates with a raised dome in the center. In the middle of the dome is a small aperture through which the leather strap is attached. The rim is smooth.
For reasons of tone cymbals are generally thicker in the center than at the rim.
To produce the best possible tone the plate is hammered with special hammers before it leaves the factory. This procedure requires great care and skill because it is very easy to damage the instrument. It is this technique that gives cymbals their typical dented appearance.
Cymbals are made using brass wire, sheet brass, nickel silver or bronze alloys. Just as the type of hammering employed varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, the composition of the alloy used is also a jealously guarded trade secret. One possible alloy used by the famous Turkish cymbal manufacturers Zildjian (Armenian for "cymbal maker") is four parts copper, one part pewter and a quantity of silver.