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.

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Store Stories – Citywoods

Citywoods is a beautiful little gallery located in downtown Highland Park, IL and specializes in unique handmade pieces from all over the country. This gem of a shop first opened in 1988 and is still run by its original owner, Diana and Robert Schaps. Citywoods showcases a vast variety of art pieces ranging from beautiful wooden furniture and room decorations to fine handmade jewelry and clothing.

Nearly five years ago, at my first One of a Kind Show, a buyer from Citywoods came by my booth in the emerging artist section and bought an original Luna Pendant with peridot for herself. A couple of weeks later, they contacted me with a wholesale order. Citywoods was one of the first galleries to sell my jewelry, and it has been a wonderful relationship ever since. They continue to feature the Luna pendant with a variety of gemstones as it’s one of their best sellers.

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We love Citywoods, because we share a similar mission – making art more accessible to people and enriching lives with one of a kind pieces of art. So if you are ever looking for a unique gift idea, drop by Citywoods, or check out their online shop here, because chances are you will find just what you are looking for!

Photo Credits: Flickr.com – YoNorthShore

Before & After

As you probably know by now, we do a lot of custom work, especially a lot of custom commitment rings. Often times we create pieces from scratch, but sometimes we also revamp an existing piece. A few months ago a couple came to us with two beautiful wedding bands from their grandparents. They wanted to keep the rings and honor the tradition, however they were looking to customize the rings a little bit and add a personal touch.

Here are the before and after pictures. As you can see, the simple 14K yellow gold half round band (on the left) got a more edgy and sculpted look, while the 14K yellow gold sculpted band (on the right) got a hammered, two-tone look.

Before:

After:

We couldn’t be more excited for our customers on their wedding and are so happy they chose us to rework these extra-special pieces. Should you want to revamp an old piece of jewelry, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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.

Last minute holiday sale!

We hope your holiday season is going as well as ours!

Thank you so much to all of you who came out to the One of a Kind Show and our studio sales! Each show was a great success and we couldn’t have done it without you… Thank you!

To all of you who couldn’t make it to any of the shows, don’t worry, there is still a way for you to get your hands on beautiful one-of-a-kind jewelry for the holidays!

One-of-a-kind Satellite Cluster

One-of-a-kind Satellite Cluster by Rebecca Zemans

Like us on facebook and get 10% off when you come by the studio this week to pick out a piece! If you like us already, you will automatically get 10% off. We will be open Thursday, December 20th and Friday, December 21st from 11a-7:30p, Saturday December 22nd from 3p-8p and then Sunday, December 23rd from 12p to 5p. Please call 312.636.5557 or email info (at) rebeccazemans.com to set up an appointmnet. This is our Final Holiday Sale for 2012!

If we don’t hear from you this week, we hope you have a joyous, healthy and peaceful holiday.

With Gratitude,

Rebecca

Introducing…Gift Cards!

We are so excited to share some exciting news with you! We realized that as a jewelry company that specializes in custom work, we needed to offer the perfect gift by giving our special one of a kind service as a gift!

So here they are, just in time for the holiday season we are introducing RZ Jewelry Gift Cards!

Give the most unique present!

                                                        A gift card like no other!

If you are interested in getting one of these amazing gift cards, please feel free to stop by the studio or simply click here to learn how to order one!

Dawn Clark Netsch Award

In September, the Illinois Artisan Gallery contacted me to submit a design to create a brooch that would serve as an award to honor a woman in Illinois that exemplifies Dawn Clark Netsch. I was extremely honored and excited to win the commission. Not only is Mrs. Netsch a role model for many, it was extra special because my mother worked with her and I had always heard so many wonderful things about Mrs. Netsch growing up.

Dawn Clark Netsch

Mrs. Netsch is a pioneer in education, law, and politics. In addition to being a professor at Northwestern University, she was a state senator for 18 years. In 1990, she became the state comptroller, making her the highest-ranked woman in Illinois government history. She is known for being the first woman to be nominated to run for Governor of Illinois in 1994. Her commitment to racial and sexual equality continues to maintain her status as trailblazer. She was inducted as a “friend of the community” to the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1995 and every year she marches in Chicago’s Gay Pride parade.

Dawn Clark Netsch’s brooch made out of sterling silver with oxidization

The brooch was inspired by Mrs. Netsch’s love for billiards and the modern aesthetic. The entire brooch is made out of sterling silver, and the “ball” and “cue” has been oxidized to create this two-tone effect.