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 – Fine Silver

Hi Everyone!

Today we are continuing our metals blog series with a post about fine silver. In case you missed it, in our previous post we discussed sterling silver, which is an alloy of fine silver.

Fine silver is 99.9% pure silver, compared to sterling silver which is only 92.5% pure silver. Fine silver is very soft, making it more prone to scratches and dents. On the bright side, its softness is the reason fine silver pieces tend to mend themselves to your body and can be very comfortable to wear. It also does not tarnish, which is great if you are not too big on cleaning your jewelry.

Meteor Cuff: Hammered Fine Silver

Meteor Cuff: Hammered Fine Silver

While fine silver can definitely be used for jewelry, most people prefer sterling silver, as it is a little bit more resistant. We do have a few pieces in fine silver, for example our meteor cuff. We chose to make the meteor cuff in fine silver, because it makes the cuff “softer” and more comfortable to wear. It also doesn’t tarnish, making this a very low-maintenance piece of jewelry.

We suggest to store your fine silver like all your other jewelry in a dark and dry place. While fine silver is not very prone to tarnish, it does get scratches very easily so it should be separated from other jewelry. If you ever do feel the need to clean your fine silver jewelry we suggest a polishing cloth. NEVER use a paper towel or a tissue paper because the fibers in those products can scratch the metal.

Metals – Sterling Silver

Hi Everyone!

This is our new blog series about metals. We decided that this would be an interesting topic for all you jewelry fanatics, so if you are interested in learning more about the metals we use for our jewelry, then you should definitely keep reading!

Today we will be talking about sterling silver, which is our most used metal, and a favorite of many. Sterling silver is an alloy containing 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals, mainly copper. The 7.5% can be any metal depending on preference, but time has proven copper to be the best addition to the pure silver. Why do we add “cheaper” metals to the pure silver? Simply because it makes the silver more resistant. Also – and this isn’t so great – makes the silver more prone to tarnish.

Sterling silver has been used for centuries for many different things. It is an obvious choice for jewelry, but has also been used for decorations and even tools such as forks, knives and buckets. Especially in the Victorian times, when eating with your fingers was a big no-no, cutlery was very important. Even today people still use silver cutlery for important occasions, however it is much less common and many people rather melt down the silver to create a piece of jewelry from it.

Sterling silver is a metal we use very frequently for our jewelry. Silver looks good on every skin tone and goes with all colors of clothing, making it a very versatile metal. When it comes to engagement rings, we tend to stay away from sterling silver as it is much softer than gold. This means it is more prone to scratches and dents and doesn’t usually hold stones as well as gold would.

Since sterling silver does contain some copper it will tarnish over time. The best way to prevent this as much as possible is by storing your silver jewelry in a dark and dry place. We always recommend storing your jewelry in a little plastic baggie, because that will prevent it from tarnishing as well as getting scratches or dents from other jewelry. Also in order to preserve your jewelry, don’t wear sterling silver in chlorinated water or when working with household chemicals, as these will damage the jewelry.

No matter how well you store it, after some time your sterling silver jewelry will tarnish. To clean sterling silver jewelry we recommend using a polishing cloth or a mild soap and water solution. For stubborn spots simply apply a little bit of silver cleaner with a cotton swab, and follow by brushing your jewelry with a baking soda and soap paste.

Make sure to NEVER clean your sterling silver jewelry with tissue paper or paper towels because those can cause scratches because of the fibers in these products. Also, be careful with sterling silver dips, as those can damage gemstones by taking off their color and polish.

New Work – Summer 2013

We have been busy building up our inventory and working on many custom pieces and so we thought it would be nice to give you a little preview on what we have been working on!

These two gorgeous pieces are wedding bands, which have been carved in wax and then cast into 14K gold with diamonds.

These two anniversary bands are variations of our classic Starburst Ring in different metals.

And here are some of the custom necklaces we have been working on over the last few weeks/months. As you might be able to see, the necklaces on the left are variations of our classic Luna Pendant and our Meteor Pendant.

If you have heirloom stones lying around at home and you don’t know what to do with them, take a look at our website and our hope is that you get inspired and come up with your own design to reuse those special stones!

For more information on what it is like to work with us on custom pieces, please click here.

We can’t wait to hear from you 😉

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

Metalwork – Sawing

Today we are continuing our ‘How To’ series with an edition on sawing. Just like the processes described in our earlier posts, sawing is a very important part of how we make our jewelry. In the video below you will see Rebecca saw a round circle, which she then files and will later use to create a Satellite Brooch. (Stay tuned for pictures!)

It is surprising how complicated something as “simple” as sawing can be. There are many little things to keep in mind. First, the direction of the blade relative to the saw frame is key. The blade’s teeth need to be facing out and pointing down. Since the teeth are so tiny, we like to use our fingers to lightly feel the direction of the teeth to make sure. Second, it’s important to make sure to put the right amount of tension on it because if there is too little you won’t be able to saw. You achieve the right amount of tension by pushing on the handle against the bench pin while placing the blade in the frame and tightening it into place.

Once you place the blade in the saw frame with the correct tension and direction you can start sawing. At first it’s a little difficult, but once you find your flow it gets a lot easier… Until you have to make a turn. When you saw around a corner, you have to be careful to slowly move the blade with the curve, otherwise it will break. As you will see in the video below Rebecca uses a technique she calls the “two finger split” to stabilize both sides of the metal over the bench pin to avoid cutting herself. Stabilizing the metal is very important, because if it isn’t stable it can easily slip and cause your blade to break or cut into your metal.

When you are done sawing, you will probably want to file the edges to make them smooth. As Rebecca demonstrates in the video, it is always very important that you stabilize the metal by pressing it against the bench pin so that you can apply maximum pressure to file efficiently. It is also important that you always file from top to bottom of your file in order to keep your file “healthy” and get a nice smooth finish.

Watch the video below for a more in depth tutorial on how to saw! Enjoy!

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.