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A Primer on Jewelry Metals

By joyarte
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  • 25 Jan

Gold Fill, Karat, Sterling, Fine, Copper


I often get asked what are the different metals I use in creatung joyarte jewelry, and they are a few. Karat gold in 14k, 18k and white gold. I use these noble metals for a number of special pieces, especially those with diamonds and for the discerning client who wants only the best. Any of my designs can be made in karat gold and offer a timeless option for a special jewelry investment.

Of the other metals predominantly used are 14k gold-fill, sterling silver, fine silver, and copper. Each one has a unique quality and holds unique values and color to each piece it comprises. The brilliance of gold-fill, the clean crispness of silver, and the richness of copper, all can be found in the collections.

One of the most frequent question I get asked is "what is gold-fill??" The name "gold-fill" can be very confusing as it it not "filled" with gold, rather it is a heat-fused outer layer of gold. But the name "gold fill" is an old industry term that continues to be used throughout the world. As a product, it is an affordable alternative to a jewelry piece made of solid karat gold, and if well cared for, can be enjoyed for many years to come. Typically, there are 20 layers in Gold Fill. The underlying 19 layers are brass, and the outermost layer closest to the skin is Gold.

It is very different than gold plate, as gold plate has only a flash coating of gold, a layer, in contrast, only microscopically thick. Gold plate can be over bronze, copper or silver.If gold plate is over silver, it is often referred to as vermeil (pronounced ver-may).

Silver is used on two forms: sterling and fine. Sterling, sometimes referred as 925, which literally means 92.5 percent silver with the remainder an alloy to make it harder, such as nickel or zinc. Fine silver, sometimes referred as .999, on the other hand is 99 percent silver and is the purest you can buy. It is also more tarnish resistant, although even fine silver can oxidize from time and the elements. Liver of sulphur is a jewelers solution used to create a blacken appearance in strategic areas of textured silver for a enhanced effect. On fine silver, brilliant colors can also be achieved from the oxidation solution. We have been introducing oxidized silver in recent collections, particularly Spring 2011.

Copper is a new addition to joyarte collections and has been received as an exciting option. Copper is a fun malleable metal that is perfect for texturing and colored patinas not only from the oxidation solution, but from the jewelers torch and a variety of acid washes.


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