Many jewelry designers would want to make jewelry using different types of metals wonder on which metals would bring the best returns. Finding the perfect piece of jewelry presented with various metals can be quite tasking. Well, all jewelry designers must understand the difference between base metals and precious metals. Let us dive in to understand what base metals and precious metals are and get which of these is the best choice.
What are precious metals? These metals are considered to be of high end-value in society due to their rarity and high economic value. Precious metals come in a wide range and designers have a variety of precious metals to choose from. They include Gold, Platinum, Palladium, Silver, Gold Vermeil (Gold plated over sterling silver). Some precious metals such as Gold, Silver, and Platinum are noble metals. This means that they are highly resistant to corrosion.
Gold is soft and malleable. For this reason, it is mixed with other metals like silver or zinc to make solid and wonderful jewelry pieces that can be worn for a longer period. Gold is cherished by most designers and is used for making jewelry designs in wedding rings, earrings and necklaces.
Don’t you love sterling silver? It is versatile, has a stunning look, and is cherished by a vast majority because of these. Not only that, it is the best option for people on a budget because it is affordable than gold. Jewelry designers find it great for everyday use because of its durability and it does not react with the skin.
Vermeil is a precious metal owing to its composition, gold, and silver. A gold layer is applied to sterling silver to make vermeil. The gold layer used in making vermeil jewelry in the United States must be of high quality. The minimum purity must be 14k with a thickness not less than 2.5 microns. Vermeil has no allergies since it is made of hypoallergenic metals. It is durable and the jewelry pieces created from vermeil look like solid gold.
Gold plated jewelry is also just like vermeil. However, the difference comes in on the base metal used in gold plating. The base metal could be brass or copper, which is low quality than silver. Unlike vermeil, there are no specific requirements set for gold plated jewelry, and the gold layer may be less than 2.5microns.
Platinum is becoming a popular choice for jewelry designers because of its beauty and physical properties. It is silvery-white, highly durable, and can be mixed with other metals. Besides, it is resistant to tarnish, making it ideal for making rings, bracelets and everyday jewelry. However, Platinum is extremely rare and therefore pricier than other metals.
This metal is also silvery-white in color, just like Platinum. Jewelry designers fancy it because of its color, density, hardness and tarnish-resistant nature. For designers looking to make lighter pieces of jewelry that require low maintenance, Palladium would be an excellent choice. Furthermore, its price is affordable than Platinum.
Base metals are an excellent choice for jewelry, though they are not precious metals. They are a mixture of few metals that are combined to form one base metal for jewelry. Metals that are durable and commonly used as base metals include copper, aluminum, tin, zinc, nickel, and lead. It is important to note that base metals can be plated. However, the plating wears out eventually, and replating may be needed. For jewelry designers who need to make desirable jewelry that is super affordable, base metal is the way to go. Let us have a look at a few of the base metals.
This metal is soft and does not rust. Besides, you can add custom colors to aluminum. However, when aluminum comes into contact with oxygen and water, it oxidizes. The oxidized layer then forms a layer preventing the aluminum from further corrosion, which is good news!
Copper is a soft metal and has a bright reddish-orange color. Because it is a highly reactive metal, it darkens and gains patina. It discolors the skin when worn in jewelry designs like a wedding or engagement ring and tight-fitting bracelets.
Nickel is an alloy of copper, zinc, and nickel and is usually silver in color. However, it has no sterling silver component whatsoever. Jewelers find nickel components attractive because it costs less than sterling silver. Though jewelers and jewelry designers need to be aware that it may cause allergic reactions in some people. The law provides regulations on nickel’s use in jewelry.
Lead has been used to make jewelry pieces despite being a heavy and toxic metal, being that it is a cheap base metal. It does not degenerate therefore harmful to the environment. Also, it is harmful to human beings when ingested as lead accumulates in the human body. Jewelers are advised to comply with the strict laws by maintaining a low percentage of lead weight in their designs.
No. it is not a precious metal. It doesn’t matter how good the plating is done, it will eventually fade out and you will end up with a piece of worthless brass jewelry with an ugly faded gold plating.
Gold-filled jewelry is 5% of the total weight of gold bonded to copper/brass core. So, 95% of the jewelry is still base metal. A gold-filled layer will last much longer than most gold plating. However, it is still not considered a precious metal. Also, gold-filled jewelry can only be made from gold-filled sheets or wires, it cannot be made from casting. It imposes relatively high restrictions on the design.
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
What is Gold Vermeil?
Gold vermeil has been increasing in popularity but interestingly enough, not many people know what this is. Although vermeil might seem like a new trend, this type of metal has existed for centuries.
If you are into jewelry that looks like gold, vermeil may interest you. It is an affordable and durable alternative to real gold. Although there are other similar options as well, such as gold-plate and gold-filled.
So, what is Gold Vermeil?
In short, vermeil refers to a variety of gold-coated metal. For metal to be considered vermeil, it needs to meet three main trade criteria:
If these three criteria are not met, then the metal becomes gold-filled or gold-plated. You can also find gold vermeil in a variety colors such as rose gold, white gold and so on.
How is Gold Vermeil made?
To create gold vermeil, the item is first crafted in fine or sterling silver and is then covered in gold using the process known as electrolysis. In the past, vermeil was crafted using the process of fire-gilding, but this was later banned due to the dangers inherent in this process, especially the issue with mercury causing blindness. Electrolysis results in a consistent thickness and quality that is capable of lasting for a very long time.
How long does Gold Vermeil last?
The durability of your gold vermeil actually depends on the thickness of the gold plating. In other words, gold is the primary factor when determining whether or not the gold vermeil will last. As a general rule of thumb, the thicker the gold plating, the longer the life of the piece.
Another factor to consider is the purity of the vermeil. As you may know, the higher the purity of gold, the softer it is and more susceptible to scratches and damage. If you would want gold vermeil that will last for a long time, buying 14 k or 18 k gold vermeil is recommended. Anything higher will be too soft and lower would not have the color of gold you may be after.
How does Gold Vermeil differ from Gold-Plated and Gold-Filled?
Gold vermeil, gold-plated and gold-filled jewelry are very similar in concept. Only slight differences in execution and materials distinguish these three methods:
Gold Plated- There is no standard metal or gold thickness when it comes to gold-plate. You can find gold plate in a variety of thicknesses and on a range of varying metals and alloys. With gold-plating, there is the high likelihood of the gold finish wearing out and chipping over time as the gold coating is very thin.
Gold-filled jewelry is more valuable than gold-plate. It contains more gold as the gold coating is quite thick. Also, the base metal used for gold-filled items is often a gold alloy. This is hypoallergenic and also does not tarnish. Gold-filled is the next best thing to solid gold. This is why it is costlier than gold-plate or even vermeil.
Gold vermeil is similar to gold-plate in terms of affordability and amount of gold used. The main difference between the two is that vermeil has its strict standards and is made entirely of precious metals (both silver and gold are considered precious metals) while gold plate has different levels of gold thickness and is made with any base metal. If the same criteria is met for both, gold plate and gold vermeil can be one and the same!
How do you maintain Gold Vermeil?
With proper care and maintenance, gold vermeil jewelry can keep sparkling through the years. Here are some tips for cleaning and storing your gold vermeil jewelry.
Gold vermeil is the ideal choice if you love the look of gold but affordability gets in your way. It gives you the look without the steep price. The main reasons people choose gold vermeil over the other two is because it is more affordable than gold fill and more valuable than gold plate. Make your decision based on your preferences and what you deem is important.