About Sterling Silver & Gold
Sterling Silver Jewelry
Sterling Silver is the most popular metal for Jewelry in the United States. Often incorrectly referred to as solid silver, Sterling Silver is actually composed of 92.5% silver and 7.5% alloy, usually copper. This proportion never varies — it is fixed by law. Because pure silver alone is too soft for wearing as jewelry, the alloy or copper gives Sterling jewelry its added stiffness and wearing qualities.
Sterling Silver jewelry can be worn by most people, though it will tarnish with wear. To clean, use a polishing cloth or sprinkle a fair amount of dry baking powder on a soft cloth and hold it in the palm of your hand. Rub carefully to avoid scratching stones or glass components. When done, shake the powder off of your silver jewelry.
If your silver jewelry has pearls or other chemical sensitive stones, be sure to use a pearl safe cleaner.
14 Karat Gold Fill Jewelry
14 k Gold-Filled vs. Gold-Plated
Gold-plate is created using an electro-chemical processes. This process places a thin coating gold molecules, or most often something that really isn't karat-gold, which leaves a gold color on copper or brass or some base metal. The gold color wears off pretty quickly when interacting with the wearer's skin salts or the pollutants in the air, destroying your jewelry in short order.
Gold-filled, or gold-overlay, is created by heat and pressure bonding a layer of gold to a brass core. While the standard practice is 10% (weight) 12K gold, I use 14k Gold Fill in my jewelry. Gold-filled jewelry is a much more durable product than gold-plate.
When selecting jewelry like wedding chokers and bridal necklaces and you want your jewelry to last, to become a family heirloom, be sure avoid plate and use Gold Fill.
More About Gold
Gold has always been regarded as a precious metal and was first used in Varna, Bulgaria around 5000 BC. Because it is very soft when pure, Gold is the most malleable (hammer able) and ductile (able to be made into wire) metal available.
The purity of gold jewelry is measured in karats. Pure gold is 24 Karats (abbreviated K). Some countries hallmark gold with a three-digit number that indicates the parts per thousand of gold. In this system, "750" means 750/1000 gold (equal to 18K); "500" means 500/1000 gold (equal to 12K).
Since it is so soft, Gold is alloyed (mixed with other metals, usually silver and copper) to make it less expensive and harder. This also makes your jewelry more durable. Alloys of gold are calculated on a basis of 24 parts. 14K is 14 parts gold and 10 parts other metals.
Different gold colors, popular in jewelry, are created by alloying other metals that impart their color characteristics to the gold.