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What goes into your jewellery?

May 23, 2011

When I first started working with metals, I encountered a staggering amount of various types of metals. I had to learn the difference between silver-plated and sterling silver. Then I found out that sterling silver can also vary depending on the amount of silver.

When I started using gold wire, I discovered there are different types of gold wire.  ‘the difference between gold finished and gold-plated? How does gold-filled differ from vermeil?

I often explain to my customer about the various types of metal I use and why. I feel that clients deserve to know exactly what they are paying for

Here’s a little guide into the world of metals. I hope it is useful!

Sterling Silver:   Sterling silver is made up of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5 copper. The copper is added to make the silver soft and easier to use. This type of silver is often called 925 Silver.

Fine Silver: This has a higher silver content of between 99.5% and 99.9% , making it softer than 925 silver. This make it more malleable and it can be used to form intricate designs. It is famously used by the Hill tribes in Thailand to make spectacular designs. Watch this video to find out more.

Silver-plated/silver-finish/Nickel  silver/German Silver: These metal are made of a base metal such as copper, nickel or brass with a silver layer on top.  The thickness of the silver coating  can vary but the bulk of the wire is made of the base metal. This type of metal is not very durable as the silver coating will  wear away over time exposing the  base metal underneath.  People with metal allergy to metals should avoid these as it may cause skin reactions.

Carat Gold:  This is a mixture of pure gold and various other metals alloys. The amount of pure gold is fixed. 24 carat gold is pure 100% gold. 18 carat contains 75% Gold. Gold is very durable, it will not tarnish or wear away over time. It is also a gold investment as it can be resold.

Gold-filled: This type of metal is also called “Rolled Gold”. It is made of a solid layer of gold bonded by heat and pressure to a base metal. The way in which the gold layer is bonded to the base metal make it very durable. Gold filled metal will last for a long time (between 5-30 years) and is suitable for people with allergies.


Vermeil: This type of metal is sometimes called “Silver gilt”. It is consists of a layer of gold bounded to a  base of sterling silver.  This metal is very durable as it made up of only pure gold and sterling silver.

Gold-platted/gold-finished: This is made up of a thin coat of gold on a base metal layer. Like  silver plated, the gold layer is very thin and will wear away quickly.

Niobium is an inert metal which makes it a suitable choice for people who are hypoallergenic(react to certain metals). Widely used in the aerospace  and steel industry, Niobium has found a place in jewellery making as it can be  oxidised to create  beautiful colours.

Crocheted jewellery using Niobium wire. Check out thoes beautiful colours!

Pewter: This is an alloy made up of 90-94% lead and other metals such as In the past, lead was also used to make pewter though the use of lead in modern pewter materials have been banned.Its is a nice metal to make jewellery from as it has an antique look. Be sure to check that any pewter used for jewellery making is lead-free as lead can be toxic to the body.

Don't you just love this pewter necklace (from

Other metals commonly used include stainless steel, Titanium and platinum. For my designs I tend to use sterling silver, gold-filled,copper and vermeil metals to create jewellery clients will treasure for years to come. I might try incorporating some Niobium in my work as i just love the colours.

My blog has been given the Stylish Blogger award by Zuri perle! I have to share seven things about myself and nominate my favourite bloggers; more on this in my next post. Before you rush off do check out Zuri perle, she makes beautiful jewellery. Have a lovely week ahead; Till next time

8 Comments leave one →
  1. May 23, 2011 4:50 pm

    Nice post, Worked with quite a number of metals as well. Settled for gold filled accessories for most of my pieces. With all the work that goes into making the pieces you definitely want them to last.

    • May 24, 2011 12:40 pm

      Thank you. I agree it is worth going the extra mile and using quality finishing that will last.

  2. May 24, 2011 2:10 am

    Excellent post. I’m actually surprised the use of blogs and wikis isn’t higher.

  3. May 26, 2011 9:58 pm

    Lovely post. Keep up the good work.

  4. June 3, 2011 3:01 am

    Really?! Now this is good to know.

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