Is 99.9% pure silver. It is the highest fineness of silver available for jewellery making. Being pure it is very soft and can only be used for delicate and non structural elements of a jewellery piece (i.e. for a pendant, or earring dangle, but not for the chain or ear wires). It is the most tarnish resistant the silver precious metal family. As a pure metal, it should be safe for those with sensitive skin.
Is 92.5% silver, usually alloyed with copper to give it strength while preserving the ductility and appearance. This is the standard we will use for most "Silver" items. It is the most hard-wearing and will be used for structual items as well as finer detailed components. It can tarnish, however the finish can usually be restored. It will usually be safe for those with sensitive skin as the copper content is not toxic. (unlike Nickel silver - which most certainly is!)
Argentium silver 935 is a modern sterling silver alloy, containing 93.5% silver, in which the traditional alloy (92.5% silver + 7.5% copper) is modified by removing some of the copper and adding the metalloid germanium.
Argentium silver 960 is a high purity jewellery alloy that meets the hallmarking requirements for the U.K. Britannia standard. It is slightly more tarnish resistant than Sterling Silver (due to the reduction of the copper content).
9ct Is the lowest content solid gold alloy we will use for jewellery making. It is 37.5% gold alloyed with other metals - usually copper and silver. It is the most hard-wearing of all gold alloys and is ideal for rings and bracelets. It is usually safe for those with sensitive skin.
Note: Carat is the measure of gold content: 24 carat is pure gold, 9 ct gold is 37.5% pure, 14ct gold is 58.5% pure and 18ct is 75% pure. 24 carat gold is unsuitable for most jewellery applications.
Another point to note is that some gold is alloyed with copper and nickel - the latter being strictly controlled by law due to its toxicity - we would never intentionally buy gold or silver that could potentially contain nickel, we check as best as we are able with our chosen suppliers to ensure this - as they are reputable and well known organisations we trust they have performed due dilligence on the content of the metal they supply.
Gold Filled - often called Rolled Gold (we use both these terms as many people will be familar with one or the other)
Is made by fusing a layer of carat gold to a suitable support metal (or alloy) using equipment that carefully controls pressure, heat and time (this is NOT electroplating). The bond produced between the outer layer of gold and inner core of alloy is completely seamless. The gold layer has to be at least a 5th of the content (outer layer). We, as a standard use 14 carat 20% gold filled stock. The inner alloy will usually be made from jewellers brass. Like solid gold, it is tarnish resistant and hardwearing, it is also safe for those with sensitive skin, the gold layer will not peel or flake.
Although goldf filled can be soldered, it cannot easily be forged, or fused together, thus creating limitations in its use. We tend to us it for chain woven pieces, or those that utilise wire in their construction where no direct heat is necessary. However you will find a few instances where we have soldered rolled gold either for asthetic reasons, or if the piece requires additional security (i.e. jump-rings holding a clasp connection).
Pronounced vur-may, is produced by powder coating sterling silver with carat gold. A base metal is never used here. It is sometimes called "gilded silver" and is made using a process of eletrolysis (electricity and an acid bath) to attach the gold to the sterling silver. The gold in Vermeil needs to be at least 10 carat and at least 1.5micrometers thick. This is more hardwearing than electroplated items, but much less hardwearing than gold filled. We tend to use this for earrings only as a change and contrast, as the coating of gold could wear off in time due to its thinness.
Is a pure metal, not a precious metal but like titanium takes colouration well, in its raw form it is a grey and not very appealing - but once heat and electricity are applied to it in the process of anodization the surface will colour permanently (though this is a thin layer and will wear off eventually or if scratched persistently).
Niobium is a reactive metal meaning that if you pass an electrical current through it, the surface of the metal will change colour. This is not dyed metal, what you see is purely a natural property of the material once an electrical current and a salt water bath are used, the amount of colour and actual shades depend on the process, the time taken and the current used.
As this is a pure metal it is ideal for those with sensitive skin types, however due to the fact that it isn't very hard wearing (at least the surface colour) we usually use it only for decoration where will come into very little contact with anything else. That said, if you are really concerned, we can use it for ear-wires at your request.