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Jewelry Metals Guide

There are many metals used in the creation of handmade jewelry. Being informed about the metals, their benefits compared with each other, and their unique qualities, you will be able to make a better,  more informed decisions when purchasing jewelry.

Most of the pieces you will find at Your Daily Jewels are made of Recycled Sterling or 14K gold filled.

Sterling Silver is a mixture of pure silver and some other metal, usually copper. The resulting alloy gives the silver strength. Sterling Silver contains no nickel.
The standard is at least 92.5% silver. Hence the .925 stamp you see on some sterling silver items. 

This standard alloy is used to assure consistent quality among sterling products. Sterling is 92.5% pure instead of 100% pure in order to achieve the requisite hardness and stability to resist wear and tear, and hold its shape

Silver that is not sterling has less pure silver content and will often be softer, darker in color and less shiny.Such as:
  • Bali Silver: Jewelry items made with a minimum silver content of 92.5% guaranteed, are individually handcrafted by highly skilled silversmiths in Bali, Indonesia. Also: Thai Silver.

Argentinium: Argentium Sterling (AS) is a patented alloy of silver. It is resistant to tarnish. It is Sterling mixed with an alloy of 2% Germanium and is as strong as Sterling, brighter, and does not tarnish like Sterling.

Fine Silver: I work in 100% recycled fine silver for many of my wax seal pendants. This is .999 as opposed to sterling which is .925 pure. It is whiter and brighter, but it does tarnish and wear the same as sterling.

Gold is measured in the Gold Carat. There are several carats available for gold. The carat is the gold content of the metal. The carat measures the proportion of pure gold mixed with other metal alloy to make up the final metal.

(You may have noticed that carat or is also used to measure the weight of diamonds and gemstones. Although the same name is used, the two measurements are measuring different characteristics of jewelry)
The higher the proportion of gold used in the final metal, the more valuable and expensive the metal will be.

    * 9kt yellow gold contains 37.5% pure gold (375 parts per thousand parts).
    *14kt gold contains 58.5% pre gold (585 parts per thousand parts).
    *18kt gold contains 75% pure gold (750 parts per thousand parts).

The remainder of the metals is a combination of alloys. These different metals are what can help to give the gold its unique appearance, such as white gold, rose gold, etc.

Gold Filled   (this is what I work in.)It is made of a base metal (usually brass) covered by sheets of gold in a mechanical bonding process.
It has a very  thick coat of gold; the legal requirement of gold content is 5% or 1/20  (one part per twenty) of the total weight. It is constructed in two or three layers. Most gold-filled is 12kt or 14kt gold-filled. It wears as well as  gold and even jewelers have difficulty telling the difference by eye.

Gold filled is used for much top-of-the-line jewelery. Usually made with 14k gold, it is hard wearing. With reasonable care it will not peel or flake, and should last as long as solid 14k gold jewelry.

It is a high quality material, is easy to care for, and will maintain its golden shine for a lifetime.

Gold Vermeil (Pronounced: Vermay) is sterling silver that has been gold-plated. Most of vermeil is plated with 24K gold. This is a good combination for those with allergy to normal, plated findings. It is thought of as a high quality plated metal.

The difference between vermeil, and gold-filled is:
1)the thickness of the gold. 2) the base metal used. In vermeil, the base is sterling silver. 

 Gold plating is the process of adding a thin layer of gold to another metal in order to give that metal a gold-like appearance. In most cases, the layer of gold is very thin, just enough to cover all exposed surfaces of the other metal. It is commonly used in decorations and in jewelry plating.(The standard is for the Vermeil gold plating is much thicker than ordinary gold plating)

The benefit of gold plating for jewelry is that it gives the look of gold, but is much cheaper. And much cheaper than gold filled too.The drawback, it flakes and wears poorly compared to Gold Filled.

Gold electroplating is the process in which one metal is coated with another metal using electricity

Base Metals used in Jewelry are non-precious metals used as a core for plating and gold-filled items. Brass is the most common base metals in jewelry. Nickel is not used as regularly anymore because many people are sensitive to it. Copper is also used.

Copper and brass are very much in style these days. Especially with an antiqued patina. They are great, affordable alternatives with which lovely artisan jewelry pieces are made.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions that are not answered in this brief guide.

Thanks for reading!
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