Process & Materials
Let's talk about the easy one first: Process: Our jewelry is handcrafted in our studio in Sonoma. What does that mean? It means that we assemble components (chain, stampings, castings, stones, beads) and make them into a piece of jewelry. We partner with other US craftspeople and manufacturers to do the heavy lifting of casting, stamping and plating. We are only a small group of people and we can not do it alone!
Materials: There is so much attention on materials from the consumer and there is also a lot of misunderstanding. So here is a little bit of information about materials we use:
BRASS: We love brass here. It's an alloy made of copper and zinc. It is lead and nickel free and it made of recycled metals (especially copper). Everyone loves the warm, earthy, bohemian look of brass and it is also affordable! Brass does have it's challenges though. It will oxidize with time (which can be cleaned off and polished up with brass cleaner) and if your skin has high acidity it could turn your skin green! (not common).
GOLD PLATING: Electroplating is a process by which a very thin layer of genuine fine gold (24k) is applied to a base metal (for us that is always brass). The gold is measured in microns. When people label plating as 24k or 14k that only refers to the color of the gold and does not mean that the plating is of higher quality or a higher fine gold content. Gold plating is a good, economical way of creating high quality costume jewelry.
Ecoat: A relatively recent development in fashion jewelry is ecoat which is a protective film (basically plastic) that resists tarnish and creates a piece that is hypoallergenic, great for sensitive skin. We coat all of our plated silver and rose gold and some gold pieces.
GOLD FILL: We use some gold fill components, but I have to tell you that gold fill is a weird one. I have recently learned that gold fill is PLATED. Yes, it has a higher fine gold content but the bonding process leaves the piece a reddish color which necessitates plating to create a consistent, desirable color. Gold fill costs much more than electroplating and it WILL tarnish and lose it's color over time. Does the gold finish last longer than electroplating? How can it? It IS electroplated. But whatever, people ask for it so we are starting to offer it more. Don't say I didn't warn you.
STERLING SILVER: Good old sterling silver. We all know what that is and it's pros and cons. Also, all sterling silver is recycled. Enough said.
To be continued......