Don't know what Dichroic is? Your sterling silver turning black? Want to know the birthstone for July? Your answers are here... (if you don't see your answer here, just ask me, I'll find it for you)
~What are all those metals?
~Confused over what's the difference between sterling, filled, plated, etc? This should help...
Sterling silver is a white, highly reflective precious metal composed of 925 parts of pure silver and 75 parts alloy, usually copper. Copper provides the silver with sufficient hardness and wearing qualities, as pure silver is too soft to be used or worn everyday.
Sterling silver is used in a wide variety of jewelry for a beautiful polished look. Sterling silver chain will tarnish over time but can be polished easily.
Fine silver wire is 99.9% silver. Because it has a higher silver content than sterling, it is much softer. It doesn't tarnish as quickly though.
A fine silver film deposited on a base metal by electrolysis, in the same kind of electrically-charged bath used to make gold electroplate. The film can be as thin as seven millionths of an inch.
Hill Tribe Silver:
Hill Tribe or Thai silver is hand-crafted by the Karen Hill Tribes of Thailand. It is all rolled and hammered with primitive tools. They take great care with their designs, and they do use stamps on many of the pieces. However, even with the greatest of care, the size and shape will vary a bit from piece to piece. Many of the designs are not stamped, and are still created by hand. You will see a variance in those pieces as well. The slight differences in the work create an organic, unique look.
Bali silver beads:
Bali Beads are handmade in Bali, Indonesia, by silversmiths who have honed their skills over genarations. Each bead is handmade individually out of sterling silver. Every little granule and wire is applied by hand to the beads. The beads are then antiqued, giving them more depth. The results are beautiful, unique beads unlike any others in the world.
Pure gold is too soft to withstand the stresses of every-day wear, so it is alloyed with a mixture of metals like silver, copper, nickel, and zinc to give it strength and durability. Karatage, noted by a number followed by "k" indicates purity, or how much of the metal in a piece of jewelry is gold. Karatage is expressed in 24ths, making 24k gold 100% gold.
24 karat = 100% gold
Too soft for jewelry
22 karat = 91.7% gold
Very soft — not recommended for jewelry
18 karat = 75.0% gold
Recommended for fine jewelry
14 karat = 58.3% gold
Recommended for jewelry
12 karat = 50.0% gold
Not acceptable for jewelry
10 karat = 41.7% gold
The legal karat limit considered as real gold in the United States
Gold won't tarnish, rust, or corrode, and though it's very strong, it is also the most malleable of all metals.
Gold comes in a variety of colors. Because gold is alloyed with other metals to increase its strength, it can also be made in a variety of colors. For example, yellow gold is created by alloying the metal with copper and silver; using copper only creates pink gold; white gold contains platinum or palladium, zinc and copper; green gold contains silver, copper and zinc.
Gold-filled describes when a layer of gold is mechanically bonded with heat and pressure to one or more surfaces of the supporting base metal, then rolled or drawn to a given thickness. In the jewelry industry the quantity of gold must be at least 1/20th by weight of the total product. Under FTC regulations, a product may be marked as 14, 12 or 10kt gold-filled. Karat measurement of the gold content must be part of the marking or designation, so when you see items listed as 14/20 it means it is 14k gold equaling 5% of the weight of the piece.
Gold-plated products have a very thin layer (seven-millionths of an inch) of gold.
Gold-plated silver; or occasionally, gold-plated bronze. Vermeil has a very rich gold color, usually darker than high-karat gold.
Gold that has been alloyed with a mixture of copper, manganese, nickel, tin and zinc, and sometimes palladium, giving it the look of platinum. White gold was originally developed during WW II to imitate platinum, which was at the time considered a strategic material for military applications.
Rhodium is a silvery-white metal in the platinum family. It is commonly used to plate silver and base metals in the jewelry industry. It has a bright silver color that is akin to platinum. Because it does not tarnish, it is often used as plating on silver to create a tarnish-resistant piece of jewelry. Rhodium is also harder and more difficult to scratch or scuff than silver.
Pewter is an alloy consisting of mostly tin (normally at least 91 percent) and very small amounts of antimony and copper, which are added mainly for strength and color. The higher the tin content, the more silver the final color.
Surgical or Stainless Steel: Any one of a family of low carbon alloy steels usually containing 10-30% chromium. The chromium provides exceptional resistance to corrosion and heat. Other elements may be added to increase corrosion resistance to specific environments, enhance oxidation resistance and impart special characteristics. In jewelry, which is sometimes labeled "hypoallergenic," we see it in a few findings, such as ear wires or posts.
Base metal refers to any metals other than precious metals. They are usually alloys of non-precious metals. Base metal chains, which are usually made of a copper or nickel alloy, are available in several finishes such as copper, silver color and gold color. Some people may have allergic reactions to some base metal chains.
~What IS the difference between glass and crystal?
Crystal is made by adding lead oxide to glass. The lead in crystal is what makes it sparkle and reflect colors so much more than plain glass. It also makes crystal heavier than glass. The higher the lead content, the better quality the crystal. In Europe, glass must contain at least 4% lead to be called crystal and in the US, glass must have at least 1% lead content. In contrast, Swarovski crystal has at least 30% lead content.
Daniel Swarovski, creator of Swarovski brand, was born in northern Bohemia where glass manufacturing reaches back well into the 14th century. His focus was on ornamental glass elements for the jewelry and fashion industry. Daniel Swarovski began to experiment with machines to create faceted crystal jewelry stones and invented an automatic glass faceting machine. His breakthrough resulted in a superior product in terms of efficiency, appearance and quality.
Through the years, Swarovski has grown into an international company with several subsidiaries. Swarovski is renowned worldwide for manufacturing high-quality crystal products in a variety of forms, sizes and shapes.
Swarovski often applies various finishes to it's crystal beads to product many wonderful effects. Some examples are, AB, Golden Shadow, Silver Shade and many more.
AB Finish is Swarovski most popular crystal coating. It creates a semi-iridescent effect much like a rainbow.
Twice a year Swarovski releases it's new colors and styles. These launches are known as Innovations.
Swarovski Elements Crystal Pearls are perfect imitations of natural pearls. A crystal core combined with CRYSTALLIZED™- Swarovski Elements' innovative pearl coating ensures a flawless surface and perfect curves.
Hand-Blown Furnace Glass starts off as a ball of molten glass. A small bubble is blown into it, and it is worked into a specific shape then drawn into a long tube. The beads are cut pieces of the tube that have been tumbled and fire polished to smooth the edges. This technique produces an endless variety of beautiful beads in many shapes, colors and sizes. Because they are handmade instead of machine made, each bead is unique and an art form unto itself.
Lampwork beads range from the simple to extremely complex. An artist makes these beads using a rod called a mandrel, sticks of glass and a torch. They melt the glass with the torch and swirl it onto the mandrel. They can do one or many layers to get all sorts of effects. They can also add decorations like flowers, dots and ribbons by placing tiny strings or dots of molten glass on the bead. The end result are beautiful beads that are truly individual.
Pronounced Mill-ee-fee-or-ee. This unique and beautiful glass is made by heating up a bundle of very thin rods of colored glass until they fuse together. They are then either sliced to make beads and pendants, or formed into other ornate glass works such as paperweights, marbles and plates. Millefiori comes from Italian meaning one thousand flowers, and dates back to the Romans in the 1st century B.C.
For amazing sparkle and fabulous color, Cubic Zirconia is unrivaled. Cubic Zirconia is chemically composed of zirconium oxide and yttrium oxide. When melted and combined in the laboratory, these materials form a dazzling, clear crystal very close in weight and appearance to a real diamond.
"Dichroic" is defined as the property of having more than one color, especially when viewed from different angles. Dichroic Glass is produced by a process called "thin film physics." Hand-rolled sheet glass is fastened to the top of a vacuum chamber. The chamber is heated to approximately 300 degrees, and after a vacuum is created, metals such as titanium, silicon, and magnesium are vaporized in a crucible by electron beams. The vapors rise and grow on the glass as metal crystals. The resulting color is determined by the individual oxide composition.
A particular color used will reflect from the glass surface as one hue and a separate, completely different hue is seen when the light is allowed to pass through the glass. i.e. A dichroic color applied to black glass will relect all the light and give you a dynamic metallic color. The same Dichroic color applied to clear glass will absorb and reflect light giving an ever-shifting rainbow of color.
For dichroic charms, each charm is hand cut from a sheet of dichroic glass and drilled, then kiln-fired to soften the edges. Because they are hand cut and drilled, size and placement of the hole tends to vary bit. Kiln-firing the glass can also affect the size of the charms. The result is a unique charm with a character all of its own!
Traditionally, pressed glass beads were handmade by pressing softened glass into shapes by using tongs that actually molded the glass into beads.
~Pearls, Pearls, Pearls:
Created entirely by Mother Nature without any interference from humans. A natural pearl begins life as a foreign object, such as a parasite or piece of sand, that accidentally becomes lodged in the oyster's soft inner body where it cannot be expelled. In an effort to ease this irritant, the oyster's body takes defensive action and begins to secrete a smooth, hard crystalline substance around the irritant in order to protect itself. This substance is called nacre. As long as the irritant remains within its body, the oyster will continue to secrete layer upon layer of nacre around the irritant. After a few years, the irritant will be totally encased by the silky crystalline coatings. The result is the lovely and lustrous gem called a pearl.
Naturally occurring pearls are extremely rare because of the amount of years it takes for one oyster to naturally produce one pearl (anywhere from two and a half to eight years!) Pearls as a whole are considered one of the three biogenic gemstones (the other two are Amber and Ammolite)
Cultured pearls are formed by oysters in an almost identical fashion, except that man surgically implants the irritant - a small piece of polished shell - in the oyster, rather than leaving it to chance. The process from then on is the same as with natural pearls. Raised in a controlled environment, this type of pearl makes up the majority on the market today.
Saltwater pearls are grown in saltwater oysters. One pearl is grown in each oyster every two and a half years. Far more expensive than the freshwater variety. Some examples of saltwater pearls would be South Asian pearls, the very rare (and expensive!!) Australian pearls and the mystical Tahitian pearls.
Freshwater pearls are grown in freshwater mussels. Freshwater pearls are much smaller and less expensive to harvest than saltwater pearls. One mussel can yield upwards of twenty or more pearls in each harvest. The turnaround time for freshwater pearls is much shorter as well, with only one and a half to two years to grow each "crop" of pearls.
A freshwater pearl is formed in the same manner as a saltwater pearl, whether natural or cultured. The term freshwater refers to where the pearl is formed, not how. The distinction between saltwater and freshwater is not as important in assessing pearls' desirability and durability as whether the pearls are natural or cultured.
Freshwater pearls come in many shapes and sizes – rice, round, potato, button and stick are just a few. In nature, pearls come in a range of colors from white, cream or pale pink to natural tints of yellow, green, blue and black. The darker colors are more rare. Using an electroplating process, freshwater pearls can be treated to create gorgeous fashion colors – fuchsia, purple, blue, yellow and green. Unlike dyeing, electroplating results in a permanent color on the pearl.
Swarovski Elements Crystal Pearls:
Designed to be perfect imitations of natural pearls. A crystal core combined with CRYSTALLIZED™- Swarovski Elements' innovative pearl coating ensures a flawless surface and perfect curves.
~Is coral a gemstone?
~Strictly speaking, such gems as coral, ivory, jet, amber and mother of pearl are not "gemstones" at all, but are considered semi-precious for purposes of jewelry making.
Thousands of years ago, coral, the red jewel of the sea, was familiar from India to Italy as a beautiful talisman with mystical healing powers. There has been a coral trade between Naples, Italy, and Marseille, France, for thousands of years, and a number of the ancient towns buried by Mt. Vesuvius eruptions were known for coral work and cameo-making. 13th century explorer Marco Polo noted the use of coral for fashioning idols in Asian temples. It is one of the seven treasures in Buddhist scriptures, and Tibetan lamas use coral rosaries. Long thought to be a strong talisman against bleeding, evil spirits, and hurricanes, coral ornaments and inlay have been found in Celtic tombs dating back to the Iron Age.
Mother of Pearl:
Mother of Pearl is the iridescent substance that forms the lining of the shells of some fresh-water and some salt-water mollusks. Like the pearl it is a secretion of the mantle, composed of alternate layers of calcium carbonate and conchiolin.
As sticky resin oozed from ancient pine trees, small insects, plant material, feathers and other small objects in the path of the flow became entrapped. Over time, the resin was encased in dirt and debris and through a process of heat and pressure it fossilized to become amber.
Amber can range in color from dark brown to a light almost clear lemon yellow. Most amber that has been used in jewelry is from the region of the Baltic Sea or the Dominican Republic.
The term “ivory” has been used in English for almost 1,000 years, and originates from several African words meaning “elephant.” This suggests that elephants have been the primary source for ivory throughout European history, and given the formerly large populations of elephants in Asia as well, it is probable that India, Japan, and China also got their ivory from elephants. In North America, scrimshaw artisans got their ivory from walruses and whales.
Artisans who like the look of ivory use a non-animal source, such as tagua. Tagua is the seed of the ivory palm, and is a renewable and ethical alternative to ivory.
Basically jet is a fossil driftwood. Jet is not considered a true mineral, but rather a mineraloid as it has an organic origin, being derived from decaying wood from millions of years ago under extreme pressure.
Lava is molten rock expelled by a volcano during an eruption. One constituent of the lava flow is pumice, or volcanic glass. It is commonly light gray to blackish-gray in color. Holes form as gases froth the molten rock, which remain as it cools. This characteristic also makes the stone extremely lightweight. Pumice is used as an ornamental building stone. "Pumice rock" is also sold in beauty stores for cleaning dead skin cells.
~Other materials you may see...
A medium brown with a warm cast, bayong wood beads display intricate patterns of the natural wood grain.
Robles is a medium brown wood with a darker grain running through it. It is from the Philippines.
Tiger ebony is a naturally dark, richly colored wood. It has bands or stripes of lighter color running through it giving it's "tiger" appearance. It is a hard but lightweight wood.
Petrified wood most commonly consists of silica in the form of either opal or chert which permineralize wood to form petrified wood. It can also contain a wide variety of minerals including silica, silicates, carbonates, sulfates, sulfides, oxides, and phosphates.
Most of the carved bone beads are from cows or camels
Basically, hemp is green. It yields more fiber than cotton, grows in more places and more easily than cotton, it requires less water and NO pesticides. It's stronger and softer than cotton, lasts twice as long as cotton, and will not mildew. It makes better, more durable paper than trees, can be grown and harvested in just 120 days, and takes fewer toxic chemicals to manufacture. It makes great substitutes to petroleum-based plastics, the oil can be used to make, fuel, detergents, paints, and more. It can also be used to make ethanol fuel, just like corn. AND it's seeds are more nutritious than soybean, can be used to make tons of food items and is not intoxicating. In fact, the hemp plant grown in the wild and for industrial uses has no drug properties, it is related to, but not marijuana. Hooray for Hemp! (see hempbasics.com for tons more info)
Leather is a natural material whose durability, texture and beauty make it one of the most popular materials on today's market. All of the natural range markings are visible - a subtle assurance that distinguishes real leather from imitation. The beauty of each leather item is enhanced by unique varying grain patterns and the subtleties of color and texture created by dyes and finishes. With time and use, leather products will mature and darken - giving them a rich patina.
~What exactly is semi-precious...
~Traditionally, gemstones (those used for jewelry) have been divided into precious and semi-precious categories.
Gems were deemed "precious" largely based on a history of ecclesiastical, devotional or ceremonial use, as well as rarity. The four "cardinal" precious gems are diamond, ruby, sapphire and emerald.
Semi-precious refers to gemstones that occur naturally in the earth but are not considered precious. Semi-precious stones are more plentiful than precious stones and are therefore less expensive. Some examples of popular semi-precious stones are amethyst, peridot, aquamarine, carnelian and garnet. There are more than 130 species of minerals that have been cut into gems, with 50 species in common use. Strictly speaking, such gems as pearls, coral, ivory, jet, amber and mother of pearl are not "stone" at all, but are considered semi-precious for purposes of jewelry making.
Most semi-precious stone beads have been treated in some way, usually with heat to enhance the stone’s natural color and harden it.
~On to the properties...
~Some mythical, some scientific, some history, something about them all... (almost)
Stone properties and information: