So you have found that perfect piece for your perfect day, or that perfect outfit for that “special occasion”. But here comes the decision of whether to wear silver or gold and knowing how to take care of your precious piece to last as a timeless treasure. Well, for all you lovers of silver and gold and everything in between, here are some helpful hints, tips, and advice.
First of all there are many types of metals that are combined with or are used as an accent with many types of beads that are used frequently in Jewelry making. There is Platinum, Sterling Silver, Silver Plated, Argentium Sterling Silver, Aluminum, Steel, Niobium, Nickel Plated, Yellow Gold, White Gold, 14Kt Gold, Gold Plated, Gold Filled, Vermeil, Brass, and Copper.
I am only going to focus on the most common used materials for handcrafted bridal jewelry and accessories. You will find most bridal jewelry and accessories are complimented with metal components, such as clasps, earring components, chains, wire, tiara bands, jump rings, headpins and eye pins. These metals would include Sterling Silver, Silver Plated, Argentium Sterling Silver, 14 KT Gold, Gold Plated, Gold Filled, Vermeil, and Nickel. Most of these metals will tarnish over time, and a preventative measure is to keep your precious piece sealed in an airtight container of sorts, in a warm dry place.
Focusing on the silvery types of metals, here is some advice and tips to help you find and keep your special piece looking it’s best. The Argentium Sterling Silver is tarnish resistant which is good for special items such at tiara’s or wire-wrapped pieces. Sterling Silver is one of the worst metals for tarnishing, because of it’s contact reaction to perfumes, oils, and even oxygen in the air and is a very soft metal. However there are many items on the market to help slow this process. The most effective I have found, is a jewelry cleaning cloth for Silver or Gold. You rub the tarnished metal with the cloth and it comes out looking new.
I have tried the liquid cleaner solutions, and the creams you rub on, but they do not work as well. Usually it requires time to sit in the solution, or lots of rubbing and cleaning, and with other materials combined with the metal I am using, this is not practical solution. Silver Plated metal is a much harder type of metal, usually copper or brass with a thin layer of silver plating as a coating. This metal is a little more resistant then Sterling Silver to tarnishing. Again, using a Jewelry Cleaning Cloth works best with this type of metal, when you have other materials mixed in with your piece, such as pearls and crystals.
Now if you are a Gold lover here is some hints for you as well. Gold does not tarnish as easily as the Silver metals do. Gold is much harder then most of the Silver metals. 14 Kt Gold is a good strong metal that is mostly used for earring components, pendants, clasps, rings, chains, jump rings, and is a great solution for people with metal allergies, or skin sensitivity. Gold Plated and Gold Filled are great alternatives, as 14Kt Gold can add up in cost. Gold Plated is usually a brass base with a thin layer of gold as a coating. Gold Plated for the most part, is also very hard and does not tarnish easily as well.
Gold Filled is composed of a solid layer of gold which is heated and bonded over another type of metal such as brass. Gold Filled is also widely used in earring components, clasps, wire, chain, etc, and does not tarnish easily. Vermeil is also widely used in handcrafted bridal jewelry and accessories, and is composed of a base of Sterling Silver that is coated or plated on its surface with gold of a least 10KT or 2.5 microns thick. You will find this metal usually in chains, earring components, clasps, and wire. Also it does not tarnish easily, however this can become a costly material to use. For cleaning your special piece with Gold metals and other components, I also recommend a Jewelry Cleaning Cloth for Gold. If your piece consists mostly of chain, or is a ring, the Jewelry Cleaning solution or a cream would work best.
The above metals listed are the most commonly used in handcrafted bridal jewelry and accessories. The more expensive type of metals, such as Platinum, White and Yellow Gold, are mostly used for all sorts and styles of Rings, Necklaces, Watches, and Earrings, with components of Diamonds, Crystal, and Cubic Zirconia, which you can find usually at a Certified Jewelry Dealer. In that case, I recommend that a proper Jeweler clean your more expensive items, such as engagement or wedding rings, and necklaces.
There are many varieties and styles of metals that are used in handcrafting bridal and special occasion jewelry and accessories. However making the right decision for what style you want and then knowing how to take care of your special piece will make all the difference in keeping it looking ‘good as new’!
Cheri Kadivnik has been a Bridal Jewelry and Accessory designer for over 10 years. Her creations have been featured at many national Bridal fashion shows and she currently writes helpful articles for Brides on many Wedding website guides. She currently owns and operates an online boutique at [http://www.eleganzbycheri.com], where one may see her exquisite designs and gather expert advice on selecting the perfect jewelry set, Tiara or Headpiece for their special day.