Metals – Gold-Plated

We are continuing our metals series with gold-plated, a metal that we are slowly starting to incorporate into some of our design. As you might know we mainly work with precious metals such as sterling silver, gold-filled and 14K gold. We work with those metals because first of all, we can forge them and move them into the designs we want and secondly, because they are known for its value and longevity. Gold-plated is a metal used mostly for costume jewelry, which is often mass produced and not meant to last forever.

That being said, gold-plated can be a very affordable solution for people who are not looking to spend big bucks on 14K gold or the less expensive gold-filled. We recently gold-plated several of our items for people who were looking for that gold-look yet didn’t want to place a heavy investment. The result was beautiful, and while it may rub off after some time, you can always get it redone.

So with that in mind, what exactly is gold-plated? As you might already know from our gold-filled blog post, gold-plated is a thin layer of gold around a base metal. The base metal can be sterling silver, but is most commonly a less expensive metal such as copper, rhodium, or brass. To create gold-plated, the base metal has to go through several processes with its final one being dipped into a bath of electroplating solution which contains gold. Then when an electric current is applied, an electrochemical reaction occurs and a thin layer of gold is deposited onto the base metal. As you might have already guessed, this layer is a lot thinner than the layer of gold on gold-filled items, making gold-plated less valuable and more affordable. Take a look at the image below to get a better idea of what gold-plated looks like compared to gold-filled and solid 14K gold.

The differences between gold-filled, gold-plated and solid gold.

The differences between gold-filled, gold-plated and solid gold.

The image above says that the layer of gold on the gold-plated piece is 14K gold. However, this is not always the case. While 14K gold and gold-filled are metals regulated by the government, gold-plated is not. That means that there is no necessary standard, which can lead to very poor quality gold, worth a lot less than 14K gold-plated.

When it comes to cleaning your gold-plated jewelry, you should treat it like you would your solid gold jewelry. Simply use a mild soap and water solution and a toothbrush to get rid off any dirt or oil films left on the jewelry. Also try not to wear your gold-plated jewelry when you are using household cleaners as those can damage the jewelry very easily.

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Metals – Gold-filled

Hi Everyone!

Today we are continuing our metal series with gold-filled, a cheaper alternative to solid gold. While gold-filled is not as valuable as solid gold, it should not be confused with gold-plated, as the two are very different. Gold-filled items are 50 to 100,000 times thicker than most gold-plated items, making them much more valuable and resistant to tarnish. Unlike gold-plated items, gold-filled items will not rub off or turn colors either.

So what exactly is gold-filled? Gold filled items are made from solid gold (ranging from 10K to 14K) and filled with other alloys such as rhodium, brass, or sterling silver, making gold-filled a more affordable alternative to solid gold. Gold-filled consists of several mechanically bonded layers, which are created when the base metal is put through a process of mechanically bonding and heating the gold to the base metal.

The differences between gold-filled, gold-plated and solid gold.

The differences between gold-filled, gold-plated and solid gold.

Even though gold-filled is not as well-known as other metals, it has played an important role in the jewelry industry for over 150 years. It was originally developed to help reduce costs of jewelry and other “gold” items without sacrificing durability.

Like most metals, gold-filled items are regulated by the government. (On the other hand, gold-plated items are not regulated and therefore much less valuable). In the jewelry industry the quantity of gold must be at least 1/20th by weight of the total product.

Since gold-filled has an actual layer of solid gold, it looks and wears just like “real” gold. Gold-filled is strong and durable yet only costs a fraction of solid gold jewelry. Since your gold-filled jewelry does not tarnish, it is also very easy to clean. All you need is a mild soap and water solution and a soft polishing cloth.

While we use gold-filled to make many of our necklaces and earrings, we cannot use it to make our engagement rings and wedding bands, since we use the lost wax casting technique to hand make all of our commitment jewelry. The lost wax casting technique requires us to melt down the metal to its liquid state, and since gold-filled is made out of gold and another alloy the two would melt together.

Quartz – Stone of the Month

Considered the “Universal Crystal” all over the world because of its transparent and colorless nature, Crystal Quartz is the perfect alternative to the diamond, the traditional birthstone of April.

The word “crystal” comes from the Greek word “krustallos”, meaning ice. Quartz was believed to be ice formed by the Gods. Since the Middle Ages, crystal balls made of clear quartz have been used to predict the future. The English word “quartz” comes from the German word “Quarz”.

Another theory, by Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder, was that quartz is ice that has been permanently frozen after a great length of time. Pliny supported this idea by the fact that quartz is mostly found near glaciers in the Alps, but not on volcanic mountains which were formed more recently in the geological history of the Earth.

The ancient Japanese theorized that quartz is formed from the breath of a white dragon, and therefore represents perfection.

Pure crystal quartz, which is often referred to as rock crystal, is found abundantly all over the world. Natural quartz can have inclusions and traces of other minerals in it, which is why larger stones are often synthetically enhanced. Because of its hardness (a 7 on the Mohs scale) and its glass-like properties it is often used for hard stone carvings. The crystals of quartz are generally six-sided and can grow either singularly or in groups taking on different shapes according to the temperature at the time of their formation. They can also come in a variety colors that are considered to be gemstones on their own. These include citrine, rose quartz, amethyst, smoky quartz, milky quartz, and many more.

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While quartz isn’t permanently frozen water, God’s ice or an object to predict the future, it has been said to have strong healing powers. Quartz is known to give its wearer power, energy and clarity. Quartz can help rid you of negative energy, clear your head, feel harmonious and give you new strength to carry on. The crystal quartz is simply an all purpose stone when it comes to natural healing properties.

Photo Credit: Flickr.com – cliff1066

New Custom Pieces!

With Spring upon us, we wanted to share the new custom pieces we’ve been working on this Winter. We’ve been so busy that we realized we hadn’t shown you many new pieces in a while. So here is a glimpse of some of our most recent work.

We couldn’t have done it without our amazing clients whose vision make these designs possible. We always love making our customers dreams come true because it pushes our creativity and skills keeping us fresh and on our toes. For example, we worked with Palladium for the first time, which can be a difficult metal to work with. However, it was all worth it! We are so excited about how it came out because of the contrast it created with the yellow gold inlay. Check it out in the album below, we can’t wait to use it again.

Our newest pieces also include fingerprints engraved onto the inside of wedding bands, a fun wedding ring stacking set and a gorgeous sapphire engagement ring. For mother’s and father of another bridal party we created some custom petoskey jewelry for a destination wedding taking place in Traverse City, Michigan. And the Nebula ringwe created as an engagement ring last year now has a wedding ring which was designed to fill it like a puzzle! Wow, we’re even a little impressed with ourselves 🙂 Please visit more of our other our custom wedding bands here.

Metalwork – Forging

Today we will share with you some insight on one of our most important processes – forging. Forging is the process of shaping the metal using force. Forging can be done either hot or cold, depending on the metal. For our silver and gold jewelry, we use the cold forging process after annealing the metal. Meaning, we hit the metal while it is cold after heating it up to loosen the molecules and then cooling it off so we can hold it while hammering it. Hot forging is when you hit a portion of the metal while it is hot, traditional blacksmithing is done this way with steel.

To forge the metal all we need is a hammer and an anvil. It’s a very “old-school” process, employed for centuries by metalsmiths from all over the world. Now, often times, the forging process is done by big machines that can put a lot of weight behind every strike. However, we love the preservation of the ancient techniques, so for our jewelry we use only the force of our arms and the weight of the hammer. An interesting fact about forging is, that it actually makes the metal stronger. While you might think that hammering metal would make it thinner and therefore more prone to break, it does exactly the opposite. Forging refines the molecular structure, which results in better and stronger physical properties of the metal.

When we forge the metal to create our signature hammered texture, it is important to stay consistent. That means we try to put the same amount of weight behind every hit, and we move the metal carefully, so the hammer hits each part evenly, creating a very nice texture and refined flow.

Watch Rebecca create her signature texture in our ‘How To: Forge’ video below.

For more detail, also check out this video we did with Mark Shale Stores last year.

Indie Wed

What an exciting year already! I can’t believe it’s almost February!

Currently I’m preparing for my next big project, Indie Wed, an alternative to the traditional bridal expo. If you are getting married in the near future, or know someone who is, and you live in Chicago, then you should definitely try to attend this beautiful and artistic event.

At Indie Wed there will be many different vendors, giving you the opportunity to pick and choose one-of-a-kind wedding items such as jewelry, decorations, flower arrangements, cakes, music and much, much more! While picking and choosing the pieces to your unique wedding, you will also be supporting Chicago’s smaller, independent businesses.

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I myself will be showing samples of wedding and engagement rings and I couldn’t be more excited to be part of this important event! For those of you interested in collaborating on rings, make sure to stop by my booth #54 on the first floor.

If you’re not getting married, but would like to reset your engagement ring or create an anniversary band, please don’t hesitate to contact us to set up an appointment. If you’re not in Chicago, please don’t let geography stop you. We work with people virtually all the time, it’s amazing how that technology works 😉

Indie Wed will take place on February 2nd, from 10 am until 4 pm at the Ravenswood Event Center. The entrance is located at 4043 N. Ravenswood Avenue, Chicago. Tickets are now on sale, please click here to purchase your ticket.

Hope to hear from you soon!

Sapphire – Stone of the Month

The sapphire is often referred to as the ruby‘s sister. Why? Because they are both made out of the same material, the mineral corundum. Gemstones that belong to the corundum family, which are the hardest besides diamonds, consist of pure aluminum oxide, which over many years crystallized into beautiful colorless gemstones. Other elements such as iron and chrome are responsible for the sapphire’s beautiful coloring. The word “sapphire” derives from the Latin “saphirus” and the Greek “sapheiros”, meaning “blue.” Although mostly known for its deep blue color, the sapphire can come in many other colors including red, yellow, green and pink.

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The sapphire dates back to 800 B.C. when they were the gems of choice among clergy and royalty of ancient civilizations like Persia. Blue sapphires were believed to reflect heaven and ward off evil, often put into jewelry as a talisman.

Good quality sapphires are rather rare and are only be found in Burma, India, Sri Lanka, Africa and Brazil. Since the color of the sapphire is so important, and since the stone shines in different colors from different angles, the cutter needs to make sure to cut this very hard gemstone in the right angle in order to maximize the brilliance and luster.
Even though the sapphire is a rather expensive stone to own, once you own it it will be fairly simple to keep clean and beautiful. Due to its hardness the stone doesn’t easily break, and because of its value and mystery, this beautiful gem can be a wonderful substitute for diamonds in engagement rings. It is also associated with 45th wedding anniversaries.

Photo Credit: Flickr.com – dctim1