METALS

What is Metal Clay?

Metal clay is a crafting medium consisting of very small particles of metal such as silvergold, bronze, or copper mixed with an organic binder and water for use in making jewelrybeads and small sculptures. Originating in Japan in 1990, metal clay can be shaped just like any soft clay, by hand or using molds. After drying, the clay can be fired in a variety of ways such as in a kiln, with a handheld gas torch, or on a gas stove, depending on the type of clay and the metal in it. The binder burns away, leaving the pure sintered metal. Shrinkage of between 8% and 30% occurs (depending on the product used). Alloys such as bronzesterling silver, and steel also are available.

FINE SILVER

Investment grade, or fine, silver is 99.9 percent (.999) pure or better. The Silver Maples produced by the Royal Canadian Mint are 99.99 percent (.9999) pure silver. But pure silver has some qualities that can be undesirable in particular applications. It is soft and bendable, and oxidizes easily producing a tarnish. Jewelry makers and other users of silver often mix silver with other metal to make it more suitable for their purposes. Silver of between 92.5 percent purity and fine is called sterling silver.

STERLING SILVER

The standard content of sterling silver is 92.5 percent (.925) silver and 7.5 percent copper. The presence of the copper increases the hardness of the alloy, making it less likely to bend. It also slows down the rate of oxidation so silver jewelry and flatware doesn’t tarnish as quickly as fine silver. Sterling silver is usually identified with a marking of “925” or “ster” on the bottom or rear of a sterling silver piece.

Sterling Silver 950 is the purity of the silver after firing; 95% silver and 5% copper. The ACS950 will be hallmarked as Sterling silver 950ST

Our sterling silver is hallmarked with .925, .950st  or .960st sterling silver.

 Learn more about Silver:

https://www.encyclopedia.com/science-and-technology/chemistry/compounds-and-elements/silver

ARGENTIUM SILVER 

  1. Purer. Argentium’s 935 and 960 grades set new purity standards for silver. Argentium’s make-up is: 93.5% silver, 1.2% germanium, 6.3% copper
  2. Brighter. Argentium Silver is brighter and whiter than platinum, white gold, palladium and traditional Sterling.
  3. Naturally beautiful. Argentium silver does not require plating and is the natural colour of pure silver.
  4. Tarnish resistant. Argentium Silver is low maintenance, easy to care for and simple to keep clean.
  5. Hypoallergenic. Argentium is a better suited for those who are unable to wear traditional sterling silver.
  6. Responsible. Argentium Silver is made from ethically sourced silver.

 Learn about Argentium Silver:

https://www.argentiumsilver.com/argentium-background

WHAT IS NOT CONSIDERED STERLING SILVER:

  1. GERMAN SILVER/NICKEL SILVER:  This type of metal is not sterling silver at all.  It is a metal made up of different alloys usually, nickel, copper, zinc and sometimes lead and tin.  It has the appearance of silver.
  2. TIBETAN SILVER:  Many consumers are confused about this metal.  Genuine Tibetan silver is just sterling silver that is handcrafted by an ethnic group; the Nepalese/Tibetans.  Tibetan silver is an alloy of some silver, with lots of copper or other base metal.
  3. PALLADIUM:  A form of platinum with much of the same properties and characteristics of platinum but cheaper to use.
  4. RHODIUM:  Another form of platinum that can be applied to base metals(brass, copper), sterling silver, gold or other metals.  Rhodium plating is very, very expensive.
  5. PLATINUM:  Used in almost pure form for jewelry making.  It is a very expensive metal -20% more than gold itself.  It is a very strong and durable metal. (My favorite metal, just can't afford it!!!! LOL!)
  6. TITANIUM:  The hardest natural metal in the world.  Cannot be soldered.  Often used in men's jewelry.
  7. TUNSTEN CARBIDE:  Another silver looking metal: it is scratch resistant and durable.  Does not require polishing to maintain its shine.
  8. STAINLESS STEEL:  Gaining in popularity for use in jewelry.  Stainless steel is not that expensive compared to sterling silver, platinum, rhodium, argentium sterling silver or fine silver.  Stainless steel is defined by 4 groups and over 150 grades.  Most stainless steel used for jewelry is 308, 308l, 308lvm,  304,  304l, 304lvm.  Surgical stainless steel is 316lvm. 
  9. WHITE GOLD: A metal that combines gold with a white meal to form the alloy of white gold.  The white metal can be silver, pallikium, nickel and/or rhodium plating.
  10. SILVER PLATE:  A thin layer of silver applied (electroplated) over a base metal.  The amount of silver used is negiliable.
  11. STERLING SILVER OR SILVER PLATE:  same as above.
  12. STERLING SILVER OVERLAY:  A thicker layer of silver applied over a base metal.  The thick layer of silver allows a piece to be engraved.
  13. SILVERTONE:  Base metal colored to look silver.

So, just be careful.  That $4.99 silver bracelet probably isn't sterling silver.  If it is too cheap it is probably silver plated or not even that. If you have doubt, contact the seller.

 

COPPER

  1. Pure. Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu. Atomic Number: 29. Atomic Weight: 63.546 amu (atomic mass unit).
  2. Cultural. The Egyptians used the ankh symbol to denote copper in their system of hieroglyphs. It also represented eternal life.
  3. Oldest. Copper is one of the oldest metals known to civilization, dating back more than 10,000 years. A copper pendant discovered in what is now northern Iraq has been dated to about 8,700 B.C. Its uses and contributions continue to grow.
  4. Natural color. Copper is the only metal other than gold that has natural color. Other metals are either gray or white.

Copper is a pure metal, not an alloy that has been used in creating jewelry for thousands of years. Its transformative qualities have been appreciated by artisans and healers alike. Left uncoated Copper can react with the acids in the skin which leave a green stain on some, this is not an allergic reaction but a transference of chelated (excreted copper) that is being quickly dissolved in the salt and acid in the sweat.

Copper is antimicrobial and doesn't harm the skin in any way. What's "antimicrobial"? An antimicrobial is a substance that kills or inhibits the growth of micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi, or protozoan's, as well as destroying viruses. Copper is also an antibacterial as well as an antifungal agent and used in the treatment of skin disease and wounds today as it was thousands of years ago. Of course, thousands of years ago they didn't know all of this; they simply used it because it helped. 

Copper is a trace element needed for healthy growth and function of bones, collagen, the brain, the heart, the skin and immune system. Copper is contained throughout our bodies and in our hair. Copper is present in our own bodies as an essential element found in all higher life forms "At lower concentrations it is an essential trace nutrient to all higher plant and animal life.

The main areas where copper is found in animals are liver, muscle and bone."
Sources for this information and more reading about copper:

Learn more about copper:

http://copperalliance.org/about-copper/

BRONZE

  1. Alloy. Bronze is a metal composed primarily of copper and tin. Copper is the main component, and brass is usually classified as a copper alloy.
  2. Stronger. Bronze is stronger and harder than copper and brass, but not as strong or hard as steel.

Bronze, in metallurgy, alloy of copper, tin, zinc, phosphorus, and sometimes small amounts of other elements. Bronzes are harder than brasses. Most are produced by melting the copper and adding the desired amounts of tin, zinc, and other substances.

The properties of the alloy depend on the proportions of its components. Aluminum bronze has high strength and resists corrosion; it is used for bearings, valve seats, and machine parts. Leaded bronze, containing from 10% to 29% lead, is cast into heavy–duty bushings and bearings. Silicon bronze is used for telegraph wires and chemical containers.

Phosphor bronze is used for springs. Bronze is used for coins, medals, steam fittings, and gunmetal and was formerly employed for cannon. Because of its particularly sonorous quality, bell metal, containing from 20% to 24% tin, is used for casting bells.

Bronze has long been used in art, e.g., for castings, engravings, and forgings. Bronze, alloy traditionally composed of copper and tin. Bronze is of exceptional historical interest and still finds wide applications. It was made before 3000 BC, though its use in artifacts did not become common until much later.

The proportions of copper and tin varied widely (from 67 to 95 percent copper in surviving artifacts), but, by the Middle Ages in Europe, certain proportions were known to yield specific properties.

An alloy described in an 11th-century Greek manuscript in the library of St. Mark’s, Venice, cites a proportion of one pound copper to two ounces of tin (8 to 1), approximately that used for bronze gunmetal in later times. Some modern bronzes contain no tin at all, substituting other metals such as aluminum, manganese, and even zinc.

Learn more about bronze:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bronze

https://www.britannica.com/technology/bronze-alloy

METAL PURITIES

Traditional metals used in jewelry are the “noble metals”: silver, gold and the platinum metal group (including platinum and palladium). Noble metals are so called because of their ability to withstand corrosion and oxidation and their chemical stability. Today's jewelry is more varied and versatile than ever. This is partly due to the use of new types of metals and alloys used to make jewelry.

Through the use of alloys, two or more metals or elements can be combined to give the resulting metallic substance certain properties that are different from its component metals. The primary purpose of alloys in jewelry is to give metals more desirable characteristics. For example, pure gold (24 karat gold) is too soft for prolonged wearing and would scratch easily. Most gold jewelry is either 14 karat gold or 18 karat gold which consists of gold mixed with other alloys, usually silver, nickel, copper or zinc. Sterling silver is silver mixed with alloys to make it stronger. Sterling silver is 92.5% pure silver usually mixed with 7.5% copper.

 
METAL PURITIES
Jewelry Classification Purity Noble Metal/Common Alloys
24 karat (24k) gold 99.90% Pure gold
18 karat (18k) gold 75.00% Gold with nickel, copper or zinc alloy
14 karat (14k) gold 58.33% Gold with nickel, copper or zinc alloy
10 karat (10k) gold 41.66% Gold with nickel, copper or zinc alloy
Silver 99.90% Pure silver
Sterling Silver .925 92.50% Silver with copper alloy
Argentium Sterling Silver .950 95% Silver with copper alloy
Argentium Sterling Silver .960 96% Silver with copper alloy
 
PRECIOUS METAL CHARACTERISTICS
Metal Hardness level (Mohs scale) Common Alloys Pros Cons
24k yellow gold 2.5    brilliant luster too soft for most jewelry
18k yellow gold 2.75 silver, copper, zinc, nickel, palladium alloys used make gold more durable for everyday wear nickel alloy can have allergenic properties
14k yellow gold 3-4   alloys used make gold more durable for everyday wear nickel alloy can have allergenic properties
white gold 2.8-4.0 silver, palladium, nickel less expensive alternative to platinum can have allergenic properties; rhodium plating will eventually wear off
silver 2.5 copper low price point susceptible to scratches
platinum 3.5 ruthenium, iridium, platinum hypoallergenic, will retain white color susceptible to scratches, prongs can bend
palladium 4.5 ruthenium, iridium hypoallergenic, maintains natural white color, great luster enhances gems, naturally strong metal, lighter than platinum susceptible to scratches, more sensitive to acids, won't take a high polish well
tungsten carbide 9 carbon hypoallergenic, low price point, maintains white color forever, looks great after years of wear not a precious metal, can chip or shatter, can oxidize; cannot be sized
tungsten 7.5   hypoallergenic, resists scratches, especially useful for brushed jewelry designs not a precious metal; cannot be sized
stainless steel 6.5 carbon, iron resists corrosion and staining not a precious metal; cannot be sized
titanium 6 aluminum, iron, tin hypoallergenic, high tensile strength, resists corrosion, light weight

susceptible to scratches; cannot be sized