Jewelry Education & Guide
What is "Sterling silver"?
Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by weight of silver and 7.5% by weight of other metals, usually copper. The sterling silver standard has a minimum millesimal fineness of 925.
What is "Gold Vermeil"?
Vermeil, also known as silver gilt, is a combination of sterling silver, gold, and other precious metals. A typical example is sterling silver coated with 14-karat gold. To be considered vermeil, the gold must also be at least 10-karat and be at least 1.5 micrometres thick. The finish looks great and the price is substantially lower. Sterling silver covered with another metal cannot be called vermeil.
What is "Gold Filled"?
Gold-filled jewelry (also called Gold Overlay) is composed of a solid layer of gold bonded with heat and pressure, to a base metal such as brass. Some high quality gold-filled pieces have the look, luster, and beauty of 14 karat (58%) gold. By definition, the minimum layer of karat gold in an item stamped GF must equal at least 1/20 the weight of the total item. Gold filled items, even with daily wear, can last years but will eventually wear off. Gold-filled items are at least 50 times thicker than regular gold plating.
What is "Gold Plated" or "Gold Electroplated"?
Gold plating is a method of depositing a thin layer of gold onto the surface of another metal, most often copper, by chemical or electrochemical means.
What is "Rhodium"?
A member of the platinum group, rhodium is a shiny white metal that is highly reflective, durable, and expensive. It is often used as a hardening agent for platinum. In jewelry, it is plated on other metals to increase luster and eliminate tarnishing.
Will sterling silver tarnish?
Chemically, silver does not react with oxygen or water at ordinary temperatures, so does not easily tarnish. However, the other metal in the alloy, usually copper, may react with oxygen in the air. As the purity of the silver decreases, the problem of corrosion or tarnishing also increases, but it is very easy to clean and take care of.
How to clean and take care of jewelry?
For regular cleaning, it is recommended to use a simple jewelry polishing cloth that is impregnated with special jewelry cleaner. These are widely available and are very easy to use. You can also use soft 100% cotton cloth. It is a good idea to have one cleaning cloth for gold and one for silver.
DO NOT use silver liquid cleaner to clean jewelry, it's too harsh and can dull and harm the finish. To keep tarnish to a minimum, it is strongly advised that you store your silver jewelry in dry and air-tight area ( such as jewelry box or zip-lock bag) when not wearing them. It is also strongly recommended to take off your jewelry when you put on hairspray, wash your hands, shower and swim. Your jewelry may turn quickly if it meets those chemical substances. Although silver jewelry is scratch resistant it isn't scratch proof, so it is recommend that you store each piece of silver jewelry separately, so that it is not rubbing against other items.
Semi and precious stones defenitions
Abalone, a type of Mother of Pearl, is also known as the 'Paua Shell'. For centuries the Maori tribes of New Zealand have used Abalone for mystical carvings and jewelry. This mollusk shell has been referred to as 'Sea Opal' because of its colorful resemblance to the Opal.
No stone is more creatively striped by nature than Agate. It is a very common stone often used in jewelry. It's found in a wide range of colors including black, grey, brown, yellow, pink and blue. Agate is a porous stone and can be dyed to enhance the color. In ancient times the stone was said to have had the power to quench the thirst and protect against fever. The mining of Agate was documented as early as the 1490's in Germany; the stone is also mined in South America.
Amber is an ancient and valuable stone which is sourced from fossilized tree resin, (conifer/pine trees). It is also a natural hydrocarbon that comes in many colors ranging from yellow to brown to blue. In the past, it was thought that Amber possessed magical powers and protected the wearer from evil. Due to the nature of its source, Amber can sometimes contain small insects. The two main sources of Amber today are The Baltic's and the Dominican Republic.
Amethyst is the most striking member of the crystal quartz family. It's usually purple in color, however crystals have been known to have a color range from milky white to a very pale lavender. The ancient Greeks believed it to have the power to make the wearer immune to the affects of alcohol. Large deposits of the stone have been found in Brazil and neighboring Uruguay. Another major source is Madagascar. Other countries known for having deposits of the stone are Canada, Tibet and Sri Lanka.
Aquamarine got its name from its seawater-like color which, in Latin, translates to 'Water of the Sea'. Aquamarine is a cousin of the Emerald, as they both belong to the Beryl family of stones. This beautiful stone can be found in many countries: Australia, Burma, China, and Zimbabwe to name a few. The largest Aquamarine stone has been found in Brazil, weighing over 100kgs.
Brass is a buttery yellow alloy of zinc and copper which has been manufactured for thousands of years in many parts of the world. Its uses vary depending on the percentages of zinc and copper. The color of the alloy will also vary, depending on the amount of zinc: brass gets lighter in color with additional zinc, and can reach a pale yellow stage.
Coral, also known as Precious coral, is an organic gemstone. The distinguishing features of precious coral are its durability and intensely colored skeleton. The coral typically grows on rocky sea beds at depths of between 10-300m in areas around Japan, Taiwan and near the strait of Gibraltar.
Crystal is high quality glass containing at least 10% lead oxide. Lead is added to the melting process to produce a very clear glass that resembles Rock Crystal. The process of making lead crystal was discovered by the English glassmaker George Ravenscroft in 1676. Crystal is colored by adding various metal oxides during the melting process.
The name Emerald derives from the Greek word Smaragdos which literally means 'Green Stone'. Emerald is the most precious stone in the Beryl family which includes Aquamarine, Golden Beryl and Morganite. The finest specimens of Emeralds are clouded by occlusions. These are not necessarily faults in the stone as they can be used to prove that the stone is genuine. These occlusions are referred to by experts as jardin. Significant deposits of Emerald are found in Columbia, however only a third of the stones from the Columbian deposits are worth cutting. Good quality specimens have been mined in Zimbabwe where the crystals are small but of a gemstone standard. Other known deposits of Emeralds can be found in Brazil, Afghanistan, India, Ghana and Zambia to name a few.
A vitreous Enamel surface is achieved by fusing glass particles to sheet metal or cast iron and firing it at temperatures in excess of 800°C. This results in a surface that is incredibly hard-wearing to all the elements. It is temperature resistant (up to 800°C) and chemical resistant, with exceptional color stability. The finished enameled product is easy to maintain and to keep clean. Therefore, it can be used for many applications internally and externally. Natural Enamel is very expensive, which is why most of today's Enamel is synthetic.
This is for all those people who thought all Garnets were red. Garnet is a group of stones which includes around 20 different variations, such as; Andradite, Hessonite and Rhodalite - to name a few. Garnets have a wide range of colors and the only color that they don't appear in is Blue. A Garnet's Mohs hardness is between 6 and 8.
Jade is a semi-precious stone that has a wide range of colors from green to black to white to brown. Translucent Jade is more sought after and valuable than opaque Jade. Stones with imperfections are usually used for carving. For thousands of years the Chinese have regarded Jade to possess medicinal properties. There are two different minerals that are known as jade: Jadeite and Nephrite. Jadeite is the harder of the two minerals and is more often used in jewelry. It can be mined in China, Russia and Guatemala; however, the most sought after stones come from Burma, now known as Myanmar. Nephrite is slightly softer and is often used for carving bowls and vases. Nephrite has been sourced in China, New Zealand, Russia, Guatemala and the Swiss Alps. There is also the Dark green Jade, know as Canada Jade, which is found in Western Canada.
Labradorite is an opaque mineral that displays splashes of many colors after the polishing process. The darker variety of the stone is called Black Moonstone; it's usually cut flat to highlight the brilliant color within. It was discovered in Canada in a place called 'Paul's Island' near the town of Nain, Labrador.
Lapis Lazuli is a very rich blue color. This semi precious stone is made from rock, not mineral. The stone is porous and quite soft and scratches very easily. Because of this, if Lapis is left in water too long it will dull the sheen. Lapis is regarded by many people around the world as the stone of friendship. It has been mined in Afghanistan for over 6,000 years.
Marcasite ('fool's gold') is a mineral that is sometimes referred to as 'white iron pyrite'. It can often be mistaken for Pyrite, but Marcasite is lighter in color and more brittle. One famous source of Marcasite is Dover in the UK.
Mother of Pearl
“Nacre” is another name for Mother of Pearl. Mother of Pearl is an organic material produced by some mollusks on the inner layer of their shells. This material is very strong, resilient and iridescent. It has many uses from jewelry to pistol handles. The main sources of Mother of Pearl are the warmer waters of Asia. The freshwater water variety can be found in many rivers across the USA, Europe and Asia.
Onyx comes from the same Greek word which translates to nail or claw. Onyx is a member of the Chalcedony quartz family. Its color is usually black or white. This stone was very popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans.
A pavé setting is where small stones are set as close as possible, so that the piece literally looks like it has been “paved” with stones.
There are many types of pearls, including natural pearls (made with no human interference), cultured pearls (pearls made by inserting a small piece of foreign tissue in a living oyster or Mollusk). Baroque pearls (irregularly- shaped pearls), freshwater pearls, seed pearls and Biwa pearls are pearls that are formed in the freshwater mussel.
Quartz is a crystalline mineral that comes in many forms, including Amethyst, Aventurine, Citrine, Opal, Rock Crystal, Tiger's Eye, Rose Quartz, with many others under the heading Quartz. Rutilated Quartz and Tourmalinated Quartz have needle-like occlusions of other minerals. These occlusions can enhance the appearance dramatically. This common mineral is found right around the globe. From Brazil to India, California to South Africa.
Rhinestones are highly reflective glass pieces cut and polished (faceted) to imitate gemstones. The original rhinestones were quartz stones (rock crystal). The best made rhinestones today are formed from highly reflective leaded glass which is cut and polished. Rhinestones were initially sourced from the Rhine River.
Rose Quartz is named after its pink color. It's a form of quartz that can have traces of rutile needles which can cause a Six-Rayed star (asterism) when cut into cabochon. Deposits are found in Brazil and Madagascar as well as India, Namibia and Sri Lanka. Only larger stones can be faceted. Rose Quartz can be mistaken for Kunzite.
Rubies are a very precious member of the Corundum family. The color range is a deep red to purple/brown. The most sought after color of the stone is what has been referred to as 'Pigeons Blood'. It is a pure red color with a hint of blue. As a rough stone, Ruby appears dull and greasy. However, when cut and polished, the lustre can come close to that of a Diamond. Just like Emeralds, occlusions in the stone can identify its authenticity. During the renaissance period Rubies were thought to have the power to counteract poison. The world's largest Ruby is known as the Raviratna it weights a whopping 3600 carats. Some of the most important deposits are in Burma, Thailand and Tanzania with only one percent of the rubies mined in these areas that are of a gemstone quality. Rubies are a very hard gemstone with only Diamonds being superior.
Sapphires are a very precious stone that has a wide range of colors from blue to white, green to purple. Sapphires are part of the Corundum family and in ancient times Sapphires were worn to protect the wearer from poisonous creatures. The Logan Sapphire is one of the largest faceted gemstones in the world weighting in at 422.99 carats (84.60g). The 3 most famous Sapphires: The Logan Sapphire, The Star Of India and The Star Of Bombay were all mined in Sri Lanka. The finest specimens of Sapphires are now mined in Kashmir. Sapphires have also been mined in Thailand, Australia and China.
Smokey Quartz is a member of the quartz family; it is brown in color and has a smoky appearance. Smokey Quartz can sometimes have rutile needle occlusions. Deposits have been found Brazil, Madagascar, Russia, Scotland, Switzerland and the Ukraine.
Sunstone is also called Aventurine. It was named after a type of glass that was discovered by chance and was called “Aventura”. This gemstone varies in color from golden to orange, from red to brown, and can sometimes contain a green or blue glitter effect caused by light reflections. The stone is usually cut flat or into a cabochon. It can be found in several countries including India, the USA, Norway and Canada.
Tiger's eye is member of the quartz group. This semi-precious stone is dark brown to yellow in color with red color being produced by applying heat to the stone. Tiger's Eye that is honey in color is sometime passed off as the more expensive 'Cat's Eye'. Blue to grey colored versions of the stone are called “ôHawks Eyeö” and the dark brown version of the stone is known as “ôBull's eyeö” or “ôOx-eyeö”. For jewelry, the stone is mostly cut into cabochons to bring out the streaks of color that run right through the stone. The biggest percentage of Tiger's Eye comes from South Africa where the export of raw materials is forbidden. Other sources have been documented such as, Brazil, Burma, Canada, China.
Topaz in its purest form has no color. It is usually colored by the impurities from the surrounding land. Topaz can be found in many colors, some of which do not occur naturally. Take Mystic Topaz for example. This type of Topaz is created by applying an artificial coat to the stone which gives it that magical look. Blue Topaz in its natural form is very rare, so manufactures heat treat colorless topaz to create a deeper blue - more vibrant than a natural stone will ever possess. Topaz can be found in many countries around the Globe including Germany, Japan, Norway, the USA, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and the Czech Republic.
The name Turquoise means 'Turkish Stone'. It gets this name from the route it took to get into Europe. Turquoise is a porous semi precious stone. It can have either a blue (pure blue stones are very rare) or green colored surface with veins of black running right through it. Turquoise can be very soft and may be treated with a wax to help preserve the stone's life a little longer. The finest specimens of the stone come from deposits in Persia, Iran. Other well known deposits are in the USA, Israel, Afghanistan, Mexico and China.
Zircon is a mineral that can appear in many colors from colorless to red to brown to green. Colorless specimens that show gem quality are a popular substitute for diamonds. Zircon is not to be confused with Cubic Zirconia, which is a synthetic substance with a completely different chemical composition. Zircon is a very common mineral that occurs worldwide from Australia to Quebec. Australia leads the way in mining this mineral producing 37% of the world’s total output.