Copper is an element that's bright reddish-orange in color. Over time, it will darken and gain a, sometimes with a greenish hue. Copper can also discolor skin, most commonly when it is worn snugly like a finger ring or tight-fitting bracelet. Copper is a soft metal, which makes it great for wire wrapping. Because of copper's softness, solid copper components are less durable than copper-plated beads and findings.
Niobium is highly resistant to corrosion and other reactions, and is used in medical implants. Niobium jewelry findings come in several anodized colors. Anodizing is a way to color metal by dipping it into an electrically charged "bath" that creates bright colors without plating or painting the surface. The colors don't flake or chip like plated or painted surfaces can. The main drawback of anodized niobium is that it doesn't match basic silver and gold colors. On the upside, niobium is an inert element, with no nickel, lead, or other additives, most people with metal can safely wear niobium.
Pewter includes any of the numerous silver-gray alloys of tin with various amounts of antimony and copper. TierraCast products are made with a lead-free pewter called Britannia pewter, which consists of tin, antimony, and copper. Most TierraCast Britannia pewter beads and jewelry findings have a surface finish of a different color over the pewter base. Other base-metal items marked "antiqued pewter" may be brass or zinc with an antiqued pewter plating. In nearly all cases, these zinc or brass alloys meet lead-free criteria.
Surgical stainless steel is a specific type of stainless steel which, while wearable by the majority of the population, does contain a small amount of nickel (to which some people are ), usually 8% in jewelry.
316 and 316L surgical stainless steel contain 2-3% molybdenum for even greater resistance to harsh corrosives (both industrial, and in the body). 316L is a low carbon version of 316, with extra corrosion resistance, and is frequently used for stainless steel watches and marine applications. Like most other stainless steel, it contains 8-10.5% nickel, making it unsuitable for people with nickel allergies.
Titanium is a very strong metal that's resistant to corrosion. Because of this, it's frequently used in medical implants, and it's an excellent choice for people with . Our titanium ear wires and earring posts are Grade 1 ASTM F67, which is unalloyed commercially pure titanium, and meets the EU Nickel Directive. Our titanium earring posts have either a Brittania pewter pad, or a stainless steel 430 flat pad.
"White metal" and "pot metal" are terms for tin-based alloys used in low temperature casting of base-metal jewelry components. White metal is the "silver" color that you most often see on costume jewelry and base-metal findings. White metal castings are usually three-dimensional rather than flat and are often plated. The exact composition of white metal varies, because each casting foundry and shop uses its own proprietary formula.
See for more information on colors of base-metal components.
Sterling silver, sometimes stamped .925, is an alloy of at least 92.5% silver, and (usually) copper. It is a soft, easy to work with metal, which can be antiqued to a dark black or polished to a bright shine. More information about sterling silver.
Argentium® sterling silver is a tarnish-resistant variety of sterling that consists of 1.2% germanium, 6.3% copper and 92.5% silver. For the end user, Argentium's main attraction is its tarnish-resistance which requires much less maintenance than traditional sterling silvers. For metal workers, Argentium offers additional benefits. It does not develop firescale, which both saves artisans time and makes it environmentally friendlier than traditional sterling. Argentium can be made nearly twice as hard as standard annealed sterling silver by a simple heat treatment, and it is laser weldable. These properties allow for expanded design possibilities.
Fine silver, sometimes stamped .999, is at least 99.9% pure silver, which means it is softer and more malleable than sterling. It also tends to take longer to tarnish. Fine silver findings compatible with Art Clay™ Silver and Precious Metal Clay. Our Karen Hill Tribe fine silver beads & jewelry findings are handcrafted in remote villages using traditional silver-smithing techniques.
Silver fill is made by using heat and pressure to apply a layer of .925 sterling or .999 finer silver to a base of less costly metal. This produces a surface of sterling silver or fine silver that is hundreds of times thicker than a silver plating. There are no industry standards yet for silver fill, but the silver-filled components Rings & Things carries are at least 1/20th silver by weight. .
Vermeil, pronounced "vehr-MAY, " is a of karat gold over sterling silver. Vermeil jewelry components available at Rings & Things.
Gold fill (also called gold overlay) is made by using heat and pressure to apply a layer of karat gold to a base of less costly metal. This produces a surface with karat gold. The minimum layer of karat gold must equal at least 1/20 of the total weight of the item. Gold-filled beads, wire, and jewelry findings we carry.
Gold-filled tubing and wire are usually seamless, so only gold touches the body. Gold-filled sheets of base metal, used to make other findings, can be either single clad (gold on visible side only) or double clad (gold on both sides and sometimes the edge). Seamless and double clad gold-filled items are less likely to discolor, since the base metal is sealed inside the gold. However, the layer of gold on a single clad 1/20 gold-filled item is as thick (and the same total weight) as the two layers of gold on a double clad 1/20 gold-filled item. Use care when buffing gold-filled items, to avoid removing the gold layer.
The surface layer of karat gold on gold-filled items is usually 10kt, 12kt or 14kt. To know the thickness of the layer, look for a fraction, such as 1/10 or 1/20. It will be 1/20 unless otherwise stamped. Examples:
- 1/10 10kt GF: 1/10 of the total weight must be 10kt gold.
- 1/20 12kt GF: 1/20 of the total weight must be 12kt gold.