Like pepper, silver is best served up fresh. If it sits too long without cleaning, it can develop a tarnish that can leave a bad taste in your mouth, figuratively speaking. But regular polishing will keep this metal clean and sparkling.
Sterling silver is considered a precious metal. The majority of sterling silver contains 92.5 percent pure silver combined with other metals, generally copper, for strengthening.
Most high quality sterling silver will have a stamp of .925 to show the percentage of silver contained. This stamp must be accompanied by a registered trademark under federal. The 925 stamp on the inside of a ring.
Tip: Sterling silver offers more accessible pricing compared to other metals for jewellery intended for everyday wear.
Like salt in your kitchen, stainless steel is a workhorse in the jewellery world. This scratch-resistant metal has industrial roots and tends to be used primarily for a rugged and durable effect in jewellery pieces. It has the benefit of having a hypo-allergenic finish and a non-reactive surface.
Stainless steel is a blend of various metals, but all blends of stainless steel contain chromium and nickel. Most industrial steel, like 304L steel, isn't suitable for jewellery purposes.
Gold is a bit like curry. There are many different blends out there, and which one you choose is largely a matter of taste.
Throughout history, man has used this metal for creating articles of value, including coins and jewellery. Gold is not only beautiful, but also tarnish and corrosion resistant.
Gold in its natural state is a very soft material. However with a slight change of its composition, we can enjoy its warmth and versatility in the creation of jewellery. Like silver, gold is generally strengthened by the addition of copper.
Pure gold is a deep yellow. The lower the numeric percentage of gold in a mixture, the lighter the color of the resulting alloy. The unit of measurement for gold percentage is karats (abbreviated K or KT).
Which metal alloy is added to the gold also impacts the resulting color of the finished product. The addition of copper to gold yields a rose gold color. White gold is an alloy of pure gold and a white metal, like nickel, manganese or palladium. Plating of rhodium, which is part of the platinum family, can also be used to improve the look of white gold.
Platinum is the vanilla of the metal world. Not to be confused with imitation or artificial vanilla extracts, pure vanilla beans are one of the most expensive spices in the world. And like this pricy plant, platinum is rare and revered.
This most precious of metals will not tarnish. It is rarer than gold, and in its pure state it is a natural brilliant white. And finally, its most winning characteristic is durability.
Of course, a metal such as this comes with a high price tag. When looking for a jewellery piece to cherish and pass down to future generations, platinum is your choice.
Fun fact: White gold was developed by jewelers because of the public's love for platinum and its general lack of availability and high cost. To create white gold, an alloy of nickel and zinc and small amounts of copper and silver are added to yellow gold.
In the jewellery industry, plating refers to the process of coating or bonding one metal to another base metal. The base metal is typically comprised of heartier metals like steel or brass. This base metal is then covered with a precious metal like gold or platinum to give the piece its finished look.
One form of plating, ion plating, is among the most advanced surface finishing processes in the trade. With traditional plating methods, the gold surface coat can rub off rather easily over time, revealing the base metal. Ion plating, however, adds a greater durability to the surface metal, making the piece more wear resistant. Ion plated jewellery has been found to have up to eight times better wear and corrosion resistance over other more conventional plating methods.
Rather than a simple dipped or "wet" process for applying the surface metal, ion plated settings receive a negative charge under vacuum pressurization to essentially bond the surface and base metals on an atomic level, aligning the electrons of the two substances. Unlike basic electroplating, ion plating deposits layers of the surface metal atom-by-atom or molecule-by-molecule to ensure a lasting bond.
The thickness of the overlay applied to a setting varies because different pieces are subject to different expectations of wear. For example, a ring on your hand typically sees more wear and tear than a pendant around your neck does. Trade standards require that the thickness of the surface metal be substantial enough to assure durable coverage of the base metal to which it has been affixed.
If platinum is pure vanilla bean, then goldtone and silvertone are the aforementioned imitation or artificial vanilla extracts. Made to look like gold or silver, these metals may only contain a light wash of gold or silver color on top of a base metal.
That is not to say that goldtone and silvertone jewellery doesn't have its place. What they lack in durability, they make up for in style. Frequently found in costume or fashion jewellery, these affordable materials make the hottest trends inexpensive and accessible.
So you see, like a great recipe, creating different metal looks requires just the right blend of ingredients. Can you imagine what a jeweler's cookbook must look like?
Melt and mix the ingredients well until the perfect golden-pink color is achieved. Form and cool mixture for a sparkling treat.*
Coat base material of your choice with a five percent solution of liquid silver until gleaming and glittery. Serve up this hot look to your favorite fashionista.*
*Not actual recipes.