Silver Filled and Gold Filled Wire

Today I thought I would start the new year talking about silver filled wire and gold filled wire.  I want to let you know the difference between the types of wires and what to expect when you are looking at artisan jewelry.

It can be very confusing with all the different types of wires jewelry artists have available for use.  Let’s see there is gold plated, silver plated, copper plated, brass, bronze, red brass, gold, sterling, fine silver, gold filled, rolled gold, sterling silver filled, argentium silver, and a mired of different craft wires .  Whew, that’s a lot of  wire no wonder a few of my clients have glazed over eyes when I start talking about the wire I used to make the piece they are looking at.

Let’s start with plated and craft wires.  First and foremost plated wires have usually silver or gold kind of glued to the surface of another metal, usually copper.  This finish is not permanent and will wear off quickly.  You cannot clean plated wires like you would sterling or gold wires without rubbing the surface metal off and exposing the center wire.  This type of wire is rather inexpensive and should make the piece of jewelry you are looking at cheaper, but be aware that there are a great number of jewelry artists that use nothing but craft wire and plated wire and will charge you as though they used sterling or gold wire.  Always ask questions and if you can get a look at the end of one piece of wire check to see if you can see any other color, if you can you have craft wire or plated wire.  If in doubt and the artist isn’t seeming to answer your questions truthfully, pass it by.  Don’t get me wrong plated and craft wire definitely have their place in the jewelry world and if you are not going to wear the piece often or if it is a pendant that is not really in contact with your skin then it is the perfect type of wire to use and allows you as the customer the opportunity to get that artist’s talents at a reasonable price.

Moving on to sterling silver, argentium silver, fine silver, and gold.  Well what can be said about gold? Gold is gold, if it is white gold it have sterling added to it to make it white and in white gold wire you will notice that it is slightly yellow but not as golden as yellow gold.  Rose gold has copper added to the gold to make it pink.  You can also find green gold but I’m not sure what they added to the gold to make it green.  Fine silver is 99% silver and is used by silversmiths and fine jewelry artists for wire wrapping.  It is a very soft wire which makes it easy for the wire artist to manipulate the wire into amazing shapes.  Sterling silver is 92.5% silver with the balance being usually nickle or zinc.  If you allergic to sterling it probably isn’t the silver but the other metal that was added to make sterling silver.  This wire is widely used by jewelry makers and comes in a variety of shapes and gauges as well as tempers from dead soft to hard.  Argentium silver is the new sterling silver.  This silver is 93% pure silver and has argentium added to the silver.  This metal like sterling and gold is available in a variety of shapes and gauges as well as tempers. Argentium does not tarnish as quickly as sterling and gold, yes gold tarnishes, which allows the jewelry artist to have less cleaning and polishing when creating a piece.

Now the newest kid on the block for jewelry making is silver filled wire and sheets, but I want to tell you about gold filled first so you have the history and knowledge of how it is made.

Gold filled or rolled gold jewelry findings have been popular for years. Gold filled is made by using heat and pressure to apply a layer of karat gold to a base of less costly metal. This gold layer is many times thicker than a standard plating – anywhere from 50 to 100,000 times thicker. The law, gold filled items must be at least 1/20th gold by weight.  Gold filled wire is considered an heirloom wire, meaning you can pass it down from generation to generation without the gold layer wearing off. Of course you must use the proper care to help prevent the layer from wearing off by not using abrasives on your metal, which can also damage the stone in your piece of jewelry.

Silver filled jewelry findings are created the same way, but as of date, there are no industry standards for silver fill, which can make it hard to tell what you’re getting. Most silver filled wire or findings contain 1/10th sterling silver by weight. As with gold fill, the sterling silver layer is hundreds of times thicker than a silver plating.

Silver filled wire can be manipulated just like sterling silver wire. The silver is bonded to the core metal and does not flake off the way a plating might.  Silver filled items look identical to sterling silver, and can be antiqued just like sterling silver.  There are some people whose skin is so acidic that within a few days of wearing a silver plated piece of jewelry the plating will be gone and the base metal will be showing.  One company actually has some employees with this problem and when asked to “test” the silver filled earrings they had no problems and the finish was not flaked off.  The earrings wore exactly like sterling silver.  Below are two photos, the one on the right is a ring I made using argentium silver and the ring on the left is using silver filled.  I wore both of these rings for 3 months never removing them, not even when gardening!  Can you tell the difference?

20130111_100803 20130111_100744

If you use sterling silver in your jewelry or you purchase sterling silver jewelry, you have felt the pain of rising silver prices. Although the market always fluctuates up and down unpredictably, it feels like it has only gone UP lately.

Many jewelry designers have switched materials or use less sterling silver in their designs to compensate for the increased costs. However, the quality and look of sterling are popular for good reason that has given the rise of affordable new silver filled wire and jewelry findings available to jewelry makers.

It is up to each individual artist to decide what materials to use in his or her jewelry. Some people will always want pure sterling, no matter the cost.  Since silver filled jewelry findings cost 40-60% less than sterling silver findings, while offering the same look, I think it won’t be long until SF jewelry is as common commonly used as gold filled wire and findings. I have made that switch from argentium silver or sterling silver to silver filled in my wire.  Because my customers want the look of sterling or argentium silver but just won’t pay the price for it.  In order to continue to market my jewelry designs I switched completely to using gold filled and silver filled wire and I have carefully explained to my customers why I made that switch and what they should expect from the silver filled wire I am using.

I hope you have found this little blog worth your time and you have learned something.  If you are an artist and you are thinking about whether to switch to silver filled, try a test like I did and make something you can wear everyday for weeks on end and see what you think.

Happy wiring! Kris

KL Jewelry Design’s Jewel School Contest Entry

Please visit JTV  to vote on my entry in the Jewel School Contest.  This is a photo of the piece I entered.  Thanks.

 

Musings from Kris

Learn how to make this necklace for free!

 Fields of Green Necklace

 Click on this link if you need a pdf reader.

 http://get.adobe.com/reader/

Check out my Facebook page to see photos of the latest designs. Soon the new pieces will be at http://www.kljewelrydesigns.etsy.com so please do heart me in Etsy and friend me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001263081321

KL Jewelry Design Summer News

New Bracelets!

I’ve been working on my wire wrapping skills and the things that are the most fun to make are bracelets. 

Not to disappoint anyone that loves gemstones I’ve also been making bracelets with only beads and no wire. 

All of these newest pieces are available online at my store www.kl-jewelrydesign.com or stop by any of these shows and see the piece for yourself.

2010 Show Schedul

Month

 Date

 Event Title

Location

 June

12

Benson Craft Happening

Downtown Benson
Omaha, NE 

June

18-19

Cottonwood Festival

Brickyard Park
Hastings, NE

June

26 

Artisan Market

12th and Leavenworth
Omaha, NE 

 July

10

Artisan Market

12th and Leavenworth
Omaha, NE 

July

31

Artisan Market

12th and Leavenworth
Omaha, NE 

September

11-12

Art Fair

Rockbrook Village
Omaha, NE 

September

18-19

Art at the Pointe

Village Pointe Shopping Center
Omaha, NE 

September

25-26

Cider Days Craft Show

Topeka Event Center
Topeka, KS 

October

2

Millard West Craft Show

Millard West High School
Omaha, NE

October

9

Silverhawk Arts and Craft Fair

Lincoln SW High School
Lincoln, NE

October

 16

Clarinda Craft Carnival

Page County Fairgrounds Cow Palace 
Clarinda, IA 

October

22-24

 Ashland Craft Show

Mahoney State Park
Ashland, NE

 November

6

Fall Craft Fair

Lewis Centeral High School
Council Bluffs, IA 

November

14

Beth El Fall Boutique

 Beth El Synagogue
Omaha, NE

November

 20 

Fall Craft Fair

Papillion-LaVista South High School
Papillion, NE

Introducing the KL Jewelry Design Home Jewelry Party!!

$25 of Free Jewelry!  

 Enjoy a personalized shopping experience at home with your friends when you host a fun and easy jewelry home party.

 You’ll earn FREE jewelry designed and handcrafted by Kris Penney. 

You’ll find jewelry treasures to keep and gorgeous, one-of-a-kind gifts to give!

Prices begin at $10.
Custom orders welcome!
Cash, Checks, Visa, and MasterCard accepted.

Plus . . . an additional discount of . . 15% of your guest total of $800+, or 10% of your guest total of $100-$799.

Plus . . . another $10 of FREE jewelry for each party booked from your party! (redeemable at or after that party) 

Plus . . . another $10 of free jewelry if you have 20 or more guests! Redeem this certificate at your Home Jewelry Party!

Schedule your Jewelry Home Party today!

Just give me a call or e-mail me:

KL Jewelry Design

by Kris Penney

Papillion, NE

402-319-1579

kljewelrydesigns@q.com

www.KL-JewelryDesign.com

     
      

KL Jewelry Design April News

What I see from my customers…

Recently I did a survey to see what my customers wanted me to write about in my newsletters and the one person that completed my survey told me they would like to know jewelry trends and how to put things together. So here’s my attempt to respond to you and thanks for answering my survey.

According to the market big and chunky jewelry is in this year. Good to know I’ve been fashion forward all along even before it was in. On the whole according to the market I get my information from besides you guys, bright jeweler’s brass is the new gold this year because of the cost of purchasing gold. It is a great alternative to gold jewelry and gives you the look of gold without breaking the bank to get it. 

So far this year I am noticing that my customers are purchasing a lot more brass, silver, and copper jewelry. Not the usual antiqued brass like last year but brass that looks like gold. Is this because gold is so expensive? Maybe; I know purchasing gold filled wire is very expensive for me to purchase which means whatever I make out of it is much more expensive for you to buy from me. 

I know that a lot of women and men think that the only thing to buy when it come to buying jewelry is gold but that is such a limited view; of course that’s just my opinion; but keep reading and let me try to explain myself. 

When you only buy gold jewelry you are missing out on other fantastic metals such as sterling silver argentium silver, copper, colored artistic wire, silver plated colored artistic wire, brass wire, and aluminum wire. Each of these wires has their good qualities and their bad qualities and I try to use all of them when I am making my jewelry. 

I select the wire to compliment the stone. Some wire artists wrap the stone with the idea that the wire is the focus of the piece but I think the stone is still the focus when I am wrapping a stone or creating a ring. The wire is just a means to an end and should compliment the main show.

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