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.

Advertisements

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).Ā 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.

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 šŸ˜‰

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.

201545024_37ef609e4c

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

Carnelian – Stone of the Month

Often known for it’s red-brown color, the alternative birthstone of July is the beautiful carnelian. Carnelian is a zodiac birthstone for the signs of Leo and Virgo and has been said to promote inner vitality and joy.

The carnelian is a commonly available microcrystalline quartz. It is considered a chalcedony, made up of silicon dioxide colored by different levels of iron impurities which makes them come in many warm colors ranging from a pale orange to a dark brown. Often, the stones have been heat treated to make their color more intense.

A close up of a beautiful fiery red carnelian.

A close up of a beautiful red carnelian.

This stone got its name from the Latin word cornum meaning claw or beak. The cornel cherry, found in Central Asia, is a fruit of similarĀ coloring to the carnelianĀ and has the same name root. It has a hardness of 6-7 on the Mohs scale of hardness, similar to the chrysoprase. The best quality carnelians can be found in India, Brazil and Uruguay.

Our all-time favorite Luna necklace with a carnelian bead. Available on rebeccazemans.com !

The ever classic Luna necklace with a carnelian bead. Available on our website!

Like many other gemstones, carnelian has been known to have healing properties. Ancient Egyptians used to wear it close to their bodies to silence negative feelings such as hatred and jealousy. In the Egyptian Book of the Dead it says to place the stone in tombs as “magic armor” for life after death, a belief that was shared by several cultures. Carnelian has also been said to purify your blood, help with back pain and to increase creativity.

Photo Credit: Flickr.com – Alex J Shepherd