As a jewelry designer, we all need to deal with gold plating every now and then. It's important to understand the terminology, measurements, and general facts about gold plating.
As a jewelry designer, we all need to deal with gold plating every now and then. It's important to understand the terminology, measurements, and general facts about gold plating.
A list of the 8 most used bails in jewelry making along with pictures, descriptions, and links to the products.
An important aspect of a jewelry piece design is the clasp. The clasp may not be the most noticeable component but it is the most functional when it comes to wearing a piece and securing it into place. In some cases, the clasp can also become a striking part of the design too.
There are so many types of clasps to choose from so here is a guide to help explain what options are available and how to use them.
Stud earrings are simple earrings that consist of a straight post that goes through the ear piercing and has a small adornment of a stone, metal ball, or shape that is attached. The first earrings you wear after piercing, studs create the illusion that the adornment is floating on an earlobe, as the post and backs are not visible. Common backs that keep the posts in place are butterfly backs, also known as friction backs, or screw backs, that literally screw onto the post.
Gold has been a captivating precious metal since ancient times and a favored material for jewelry making ever since, due to its rich natural yellow color. Pure gold has commonly been associated with power, immortality, and beauty in many cultures around the world because it does not corrode or tarnish. Today gold is still very beloved and fashionable but many hand-made or fashion jewelry lines do not use solid Karat gold because of the costly expense due to its rarity. So what alternative gold material options are available and how do you decide which one to use?
Basic Jewelry Findings Terms
Findings: The component parts and materials used to complete a piece of jewelry.
Bail: Components used to easily attach pendants or charms to a chain without the soldering being required.
Bead: A small, often rounded piece, with a hole through it so it can be strung. Beads can be made from a variety of materials.
Bead Cap: A metal ornament, which is used to highlight beads and turn them into a focal piece. They are also used to cover up any imperfections or damage around the drilled hole of the bead.
Bezel: A metal ring that holds a stone in its setting.
Cabochon: A highly polished gemstone used in bezel settings. They have a curved top and flat bottom to allow them to sit in the settings.
Clasp: A device that allows the two ends of a chain to close together. They can be functional and decorative, coming in many styles and shapes.
-Lobster Claw Clasp: With the look of a lobster claw, it has a rounded top with a self-closing bottom hinge that opens when a small lever is pushed.
-Spring Ring Clasp: A round hollow ring with an inner wire that is opened and closed by pulling and releasing a lever on its side.
-Magnetic Clasp: Attracting magnets on each end are used to close securely and open easily.
-Toggle Clasp: Has a bar that is pulled through a ring and cannot pass through again, making it secure.
Crimp Bead: A small round or tubular hollow bead that is secured to jewelry by flattening it with pliers. Often times they are used to secure clasps or floating beads on stringing material.
Earwire: A curved and looped piece of wire that is one part of an earring. The curved part fits through the piercing of an ear and a loop is used to dangle a decorative finding.
Faceted Stone: A polished gemstone with many flat cut surfaces called facets. This helps the gem reflect light, making it look brighter and shimmer.
Gauge: The thickness measurement of wire or metal. The higher the number is, the smaller the size.
Gold Filled: Legally required to contain 1/20 gold by weight and more valuable than gold plated. It will not tarnish or fade over time like gold plated due to a different bonding process.
Gold Plated: Covering another type of metal with a thin layer of gold using electroplating.
Half-drilled Bead: A bead that only has a hole halfway through it and can be glued onto metal pegs to create charms, pendants or stud earrings.
Jump Rings: Small, round connectors used in jewelry making.
-Open Jump Rings: Have a divide in the wire that can be pried open and closed using pliers.
-Closed Jump Rings: Cannot be opened as they are soldered shut. They are ideal for projects that require a stronger connector for heavy or expensive pieces.
Oxidization: A reaction that occurs when sterling silver is exposed to oxygen, sulfur, and moisture in the air over time that results in a dark tarnish on its surface. Some jewelers purposely give a black patina to sterling silver by using chemicals to speed the process up.
Pave: Tiny gemstones set close to one another with no visible metal that results in a “paved” stone surface look.
Pins: Straight pieces of wire, which can come in many gauges and lengths.
-Ball Pins: Have a small ball at the end to prevent beads from sliding off. Loops can be created with pliers to attach to other findings.
-Eye Pins: Have a small loop at the end. The loop can be attached to other findings to make longer pieces.
-Head Pins: Have a flat or round end that keeps beads from sliding off. Loops can be created with pliers to attach to other findings.
Quality Tag: A small, flat piece of metal that has the metal quality stamp or trademark of the manufacturer or artisan. They usually have a hole on each end to easily attach to the chain with jump rings.
Rhodium Plating: Done like gold plating with electroplating, rhodium plating is used to prevent scratching or tarnishing on sterling silver. Rhodium is a precious metal of the platinum family and is also a good option for those with nickel allergies as it is hypoallergenic.
Rose Gold: Done like gold plating with electroplating, rose gold is a combination of specific amounts of silver, copper, and gold.
Slider Bead: A bead with an inner silicone layer that allows the bead to grip chain or cord. The silicone allows the bead to stay in place while also making it easy to adjust its position if needed.
Sterling Silver: An alloy of silver with a silver content of 92.5%silver. The remaining 7.5% is of other metals.
Wire wrapping: Using wire around a bead, stone, other findings, or itself, to create pendants, charms, or decorative patterns for jewelry pieces.
Vermeil: Vermeil is a combination of sterling silver and gold, usually a sterling silver core with thicker gold plating of 2.5 micron thickness.
Explore all of the findings AZ Findings has to offer: https://www.azfindings.com/wholesale-jewelry-findings
Finding the right necklace length can be frustrating, especially if you love a particular chain but can only wear it with certain necklines or pendants. Adjustable necklaces are the perfect solution and can help make a more versatile jewelry collection. Below are several types of adjustable necklaces and the pros and cons of each one.
The first type of adjustable necklace is the classic chain with extender rings. It consists of a thin chain with jump rings located at the 18”, 20”, and 22” point. This type has more cons than pros as it can only adjust to a few fixed lengths. It is also more burdensome to create, therefore more expensive, because it requires 2 inch chain pieces to be soldered or attached with jump rings at each length point. Another con is the extra dangling chain can be an eyesore and easily tangle up.
The next type of adjustable necklace is the necklace with extender chain. This is a regular necklace chain with an attached 2-4 inch piece of a larger link chain. This allows for more size options than the first, as this type can be adjusted to any length between 18 inches and 22 inches. It is also a more cost effective option than the first since it is easier to make. One con to the extender chain is that if it is not matched well with the regular necklace chain, it can look awkward. It can also be tiresome to adjust to the right length, having to open the clasp and close it on different links if you need to alter it.
Another type is the adjustable necklace with slider bead. This necklace is made by attaching a slider bead with silicone at one end and running the other chain end through it. A tag or charm can then be fixed to the chain end to prevent it from sliding out. Adding the tag or charm is not only practical but it allows the necklace to be more fashionable and customizable. Another great perk of the adjustable necklace with slider bead is that any necklace length is possible, from choker to 36 inches. It can be adjusted on the go with just a pull and without fumbling with a clasp. The only major con is that the necklace link has to be small and thin enough to fit into the slider bead’s limited hole size.
Lastly, there is an adjustable necklace with a two hole sliding bead. Both chain ends can be pulled through the two silicone filled sliding bead holes to alter the length, and anything from pendants to tassels can be added on the chain ends to keep them in place. This popular style, also known as a lariat, allows for more unique design opportunities and again is easy to adjust like the slider bead necklace. The same con of the slider bead necklace can also apply here, the chain link size is limited to the hole sizes of the slider bead.
Adjustable necklaces are growing in popularity, proving that they are more stylish, affordable, and simple to use than fixed length necklaces. AZ Findings offers adjustable necklaces, as well as the jewelry findings used to create them, at great wholesale prices. Check them out on our website here: https://www.azfindings.com/adjustable-chain-necklace
The garnet is the first birthstone of the year, a vivid red semi-precious stone linked to people born in January. The word garnet is derived from the Latin word for seed, “granatum”, because the gemstone is reminiscent of a red pomegranate seed. The garnet has a lengthy history, often used as a talisman by tribes going into battle or individuals going on journeys, as a protective power from injury or illness. It is also known as the “Gem of Faith” because of the belief that those who wear it, and do charitable acts, will reap the benefits of their good actions by receiving prosperity, happiness, friendship, peace, and good health. On the other hand, those who wear garnet, and commit evil acts, will have bad fortune bestowed upon them.
The amethyst is the birthstone for those born in February and is usually known for having a purple color, though some amethyst stones are more pink, blue, or red depending on the cut of the stone. Amethyst is composed of a type of quartz that is often found in geodes between cooled lava. Quartz is very durable and sturdy, so it is a great gemstone for jewelry making. Not only is amethyst physically strong but it is known to possess qualities that provide the wearer with mental strength and courage. The stone is said to give clarity, calmness, and a sharp wit to those who wear it. Ancient Greeks believed the gemstone protected from drunkenness also, so much so, that the word amethyst comes from the Greek word “amethystos” meaning sober.
March: Aquamarine and Bloodstone (Heliotrope or Blood Jasper)
Those born in March have two birthstones associated with them, Aquamarine and Bloodstone, but Aquamarine is the most familiar.
Aquamarine comes in light blue-green hues, though some larger stones may have more concentrated, deeper tones to them. The commonly known light blue-green color is most reminiscent to that of the sea. Actually, the name aquamarine comes from the Latin words aqua and marina, “aqua” meaning water, and “marina” meaning the sea. Considered sacred to Neptune, Roman God of the Sea, Roman sailors believed the stone to be sacred too, guaranteeing them a safe and prosperous journey. Similarly, Greek sailors would carry talisman with Poseidon in his chariot, the Lord of the Sea, etched into the aquamarine gemstone, for protection during ocean voyages. With such strong ties to the sea, it is no wonder that aquamarine evokes the feeling of tranquility and calm, like the ocean waves washing up on a sandy beach. That is why the gemstone is a great meditation aid, thought to heighten awareness and help with communication, with both your inner-self and others.
Bloodstone, also known as blood jasper or heliotrope, is the second birthstone for March. It is a dark green stone streaked with vibrant red spots of iron oxide that resembles splattered blood, hence the name bloodstone. Many early cultures prized bloodstone as being magical and healing, believing it to cure people with blood disorders or help wounded warriors on the battlefield. Some also regard the gemstone as a martyr symbol, even giving it religious connotations, saying that the red spots on the stone represent Christ’s blood that fell from the cross onto the jasper stone below.
Though each birthstone for March may look strikingly different, they both signify the protection and improvement of the wearer’s health and well-being.
April: Crystal and Diamond
Those born in April have the most sought-after and popular gemstone, the diamond. However, due to the diamond’s costly nature, rock crystal or crystal quartz has become a popular alternative, so both are considered April birthstones.
The diamond is the hardest mineral on earth, made up of tightly formed carbon crystals; it can only be cut with another diamond. Since diamonds made from the earth are said to be millions to billions of years old, the diamond has become a symbol of everlasting love, thus their use in engagement rings. Their beautiful, colorless, and clear sparkle is also why they are prized gifts to loved ones. They are said to bring happiness to relationships and success at work. They are also said to give the wearer inner strength and peace, protecting them from negative energies.
Like diamonds, crystals are said to protect from negative energies too. They are known as healing stones, aiding in both the wearers mental and physical well being. They are thought to increase energy, mood, and boost the immune system. Crystal quartz is quite plentiful, so jewelry designers find it a cost-effective and fun option for their jewelry pieces.
The beautiful green of the emerald is what makes it the perfect birthstone for the spring month of May. It is also appropriate because the emerald is a symbol of rebirth, fertility, and new beginnings. It has long been cherished throughout history, admired by historical figures such as Aristotle, Cleopatra, and Catherine the Great. Aristotle claimed that owning an emerald could increase a person’s competence in business and grant legal victories. The emerald also signifies wisdom, some claim it can strengthen memory, even make one clairvoyant. The emerald also has a rich history in various cultures as a symbol of good luck and loyalty.
June: Pearl, Moonstone, and Alexandrite
Three birthstones are linked to the month of June, so those born in June get to choose between pearl, moonstone, and alexandrite.
The pearl is a unique birthstone for the fact that it is the only one to come from a living creature. A natural pearl is produced when an oyster, mussel, or clam cannot rid itself of an irritant within its shell, so it deposits layers of a fluid coating called nacre over it as a defense mechanism. As a result of this layering process, a shiny pearl is formed. Pearls are known to have an iridescent sheen to them and are most known for having a creamy white color. However, there are black pearls that come in shades of purple, blue, silver, and green. Pearls can also be dyed in many colors too. The pearl in many cultures is a symbol of purity, honesty, and innocence which why it is a traditional custom for brides to wear pearls on their wedding day. Due to the rarity of natural pearls, they became extremely popular with nobility and royalty, making them a symbol of wealth. But due to the development of cultured pearl farms, the pearl is now more accessible and affordable than ever for jewelry making.
Moonstone complements its fellow June birthstone the pearl because it too has a lustrous gleam to it. Roman natural historian Pliny named it moonstone, noting that the gemstone appeared different with the phases of the moon. When moved, moonstone exhibits the optical phenomenon called adularescence, which emits a bluish or milky iridescence. This is due to the dispersion of light by the microscopic layers of feldspar, a rock-forming mineral, which moonstone is composed of. Because of its enchanting look and name, moonstone is closely tied to the moon in many cultures. It is said to help with insomnia, encourage positive dreams, and protect nighttime travelers. Moonstone is also thought to enhance fertility and breed passion in new or old love.
The final birthstone for June is the rare and pricey alexandrite. It was only discovered in 1834 at a Russian emerald mine and was allegedly found on the birthday of the future Russian Czar Alexander II. The gemstone is unique due to the uncommon chemical makeup that gives it a color changing ability. Alexandrite in the daylight is bluish green and under lamp light is purplish red. Those who wear it are said to have heightened instincts and creativity.
The ruby, also dubbed the “King of Gems” is the July birthstone. The ruby is from the corundum mineral family, which includes sapphires, but the presence of the element chromium is what makes it red, therefore distinguishing it as a ruby. Chromium is also what causes fluorescence in the ruby, making it seem like the gem is producing a red glow. In earlier times, many thought an internal flame lit the ruby, so it became synonymous with love and passion. The ruby is also thought to bring the wearer protection, courage, vitality, and riches, which is why many warriors would adorn themselves with them during battles.
August: Peridot, Sardonyx, and Spinel
August is another month represented by three birthstones, so those born in August can choose between Peridot, Sardonyx, or Spinel.
Peridot is one of the few gemstones found in one color, lime green, but it can be in differing shades with more yellow or olive hints to it. Formed due to volcanic activity, peridot is also known as “the evening emerald” because it retains a beautiful light green glow at all times of the day. Peridot’s green truly stands out when paired with sterling silver findings in jewelry pieces. Many believe this gem helps with depression and brings happiness and peace. It is also said to protect the wearer from nightmares and ward off evil.
Sardonyx is made up of two types of chalcedony, orange carnelian and onyx, when they layer together to form a reddish type stone with white stripes. This gemstone is thought to make the wearer more articulate. During the Renaissance it was popular to see public orators wear them, to help them communicate clearly and be more persuasive.
Spinal is the last gemstone for August and is often mistaken for rubies or sapphires because it can be found in red, blue, pink, and orange. Spinal is said to bring inspiration to the wearer and re-energize them.
Those with September birthdays usually think of their birthstone, the sapphire, in its signature blue color, but sapphires can come in all shades of the rainbow, with the exception of red, which is categorized as ruby. Sapphires were fashionable with royalty and clergymen because they were thought to bring integrity, discipline, loyalty, and sincerity. It is thought the blue color attracted heavenly guidance that would lead one onto a virtuous path.
October: Opal and Tourmaline
Those with October birthdays are represented by two very distinct birthstones, Opal and Tourmaline.
Opals are composed of tiny silica spheres that, when shined with light, produce a kaleidoscope of colors. Because the rainbow of colors can shift and change with the light, the opal was thought to possess the power of whatever gemstone its color was reflecting at the time. This gave the opal the title “Queen of Gems” and made it a precious good luck charm.
Tourmaline is another gemstone that is found in a vast array of colors and like opal, can display more than one color at a time. Tourmaline can represent a strong relationship to nature and help protect one from pollutants and toxins. It is also said to protect against negativity and promote charity.
November: Citrine and Topaz
The beautiful fall foliage complements the orange and yellow tones of November’s birthstones, Citrine and Topaz.
Citrine is named for lemon in French, due to its citrus coloring, which is caused by traces of iron in quartz crystal. Known as the “merchant’s stone”, it is said to attract wealth and help maintain it. It is also known to help comfort, calm, and soothe those who wear it.
Topaz can be found in many colors, but the amber tones are more associated with November. Many gemstones were previously thought to be topaz until modern science could correctly categorize them. Topaz is said to help rid people of nightmares and release anger. Many also believe it bring wisdom that will lead to a longer life.
December: Blue Topaz, Zircon, Turquoise, Tanzanite
Beautiful hues of blue make up December’s many birthstones, making them the perfect winter gemstones. Blue Topaz, Zircon, Turquoise, and Tanzanite were all dubbed December birthstones and are great, affordable gems for jewelry pieces.
Blue Topaz can range from a light, almost clear blue to a bright, sky blue. It is part of the Topaz family so many of the topaz influences can be found within it. It is said to help release the mind of stress and negative thoughts, even helping those with “writer's block”, creativity, and public speaking.
Zircon, the oldest mineral on earth, plays an important part in understating how Earth came to be. Because zircon contains the radioactive element uranium, which changes the stone over time, scientists use it study how Earth was formed. Zircon comes in many colors, but the most prized and used color in jewelry making is blue. It is believed that zircon can raise confidence in the wearer and make them more empathetic.
Turquoise is one of the first gemstones to be used in jewelry, used by Ancient Egyptians as early as 3000 BCE. Turquoise is formed in arid areas when rainwater breaks-up copper in the soil and it combines with phosphorus and aluminum. Some turquoise stones have dark webbing to them, which happens when the turquoise is formed on top of rocks. The stone is thought to have protective powers; so many early warriors adorned themselves, their horses, and their weapons with it. It is said that dreaming of turquoise means success and victory.
The last December birthstone and most recently discovered one is tanzanite. Named for Tanzania, where it was unearthed, tanzanite can range from a pale blue to a dark blue. Due to it being only found in one small region of the world and it becoming so popular, tanzanite is becoming quite the rare gem.
Each birthstone has a rich history and story behind it to match its rich beauty. AZ Findings has a variety of shapes and sizes of birthstones for you to choose from. Below is a list of the birthstones we offer.
February – Amethyst
March – Aquamarine
April – Crystal
May – Emerald
June – Moonstone
July – Ruby
August – Peridot
September – Blue Sapphire
October – Opal
November – Citrine
December – Blue Topaz
There are a lot of articles talking about how to test silver. Many techniques are only suitable for silver bars and silver coins. Testing silver jewelry or findings is unique. It is worth another article to cover this specific topic and share our years of experiences in trading and testing silver jewelry and findings with you.
Almost everyone knows to look for a 925 mark on the surface of your jewelry or findings. However, this method becomes tricky when it comes to jewelry chains and findings. Please note “925” mark is not on all authentic sterling silver pieces. For example, jewelry making bulk chains that are sold by the foot do not have the 925 mark. It’s just impossible or too expensive to stamp on every single link of the chain. Some small jewelry findings are not marked 925 as well. For example, jump rings don’t have 925 marks for the same reason as jewelry footage chain. When you place an OEM order with manufacturers for small silver findings, you can choose whether or not to stamp. Having that said, if you bought some silver jewelry findings that have no mark at all, don’t panic. It doesn’t mean it’s not real silver. You may just need to do further testing if you want to find out.
Be aware of other marks besides 925. For example, “925 FAS” mark could mean “Fused Alloy Silver”. That is not authentic sterling silver. Some other letter marks may be a brand name for your jewelry, don’t be confused. Ask your seller if you are not sure. Tibetan silver is not 925 silver, it only contains 30% silver. However, do not confuse Tibetan silver with Thai silver. Thai silver is sterling silver or could contain even more than 92.5% silver. “ALPACA” mark is for Alpaca silver or Alpaca Mexico silver. It is not sterling silver either. The same can be said for German silver.
This works for most silver jewelry findings. However, it has some limitations that you need to be aware of. Do not use this method for certain findings like clasps. In order to let clasps function, some non-silver parts are needed, like the spring, which cannot be made of pure silver. As a result, many clasps will react to a magnet. Just run magnetic testing on the part that should only contain silver. For example, chain links, jump rings, blanks, etc.
Certain rhodium plated findings may have a very weak magnetic reaction. Rhodium does not stick readily to silver. In order to stick them together, a thin layer of other metal will be used. That may cause weak magnetic reaction. Please be aware of this when you test your rhodium plated pieces.
Put a droplet of bleach or oxidize solution on silver to test its authenticity. If it turns a dark color, then it is silver. This method works well for silver jewelry or findings without any plating. However, many of today’s silver jewelry pieces have anti-tarnish plating or other kinds of plating on top of silver, so only applying the oxidizing test on the surface may not be enough. Don’t panic though if your silver item cannot be oxidized. Scratch the surface with filling at least half way down, and then do the oxidizing test on the exposed rough silver part. With the surface removed, you can then tell if your piece is solid silver or if it just has silver plating.
You can purchase acid testing kits online around $10. It comes with acid solution and a testing stone. Follow the instruction that comes with the kit. Sterling silver should turn into dark red color. Brown is for 80-90% silver. Green is for 65-75%.
Same as in oxidize test, make sure remove the surface plating layer when doing the acid test.
There is mention to many other silver testing methods on the internet. For example, Ice Test, Sliding Test, Ring (sound) test, Density test. They are more suitable for testing bigger and heavier silver objects, such as silver bars and silver coins. They do not normally work well for small jewelry findings.
What about sophisticated XRF and Electronic tests?
If you have a questionable silver piece that you don’t want to apply any intrusive testing, you can consider an XRF (X-Ray Fluorescence) test or Ultrasonic electronic test. However, as a jewelry trader for many years, I do not normally recommend this test for jewelry findings. Both electronic and XRF test will cost you money and are not 100% reliable when you don’t want to break the silver object apart. Check out this Youtube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89ATeNy3DIo) and see how a fake silver bar passed XRF test. Please note even the Ultrasonic machine used in that video can be fooled too. Most of the silver findings are not very expensive, it is better off to do an intrusive but cheap oxidize or acid test mentioned above.
As an importer and distributor, we routinely test our silver products. The same test techniques we use can also be used by most jewelry designers, sellers, or buyers. Out of all the testing methods we mentioned above, we recommend the oxidizing and acid tests. Always purchase from companies with a good reputation too. AZ Findings only sources silver jewelry chains and findings from the best manufacturers in the Industry. We only find new manufactures from the best industry trade shows to ensure our product quality and give ourselves, and our customers, a peace of mind. I hope this article is helpful to you. Leave a comment if you have any questions or call us at 1-888-500-1586.