Some facts about Gold
The Creation of 14ct Rolled Gold Wire (also known as Gold-Filled Wire)
- 14/20 wire or 1/20 Rolled gold wire is created by taking a sheet of 14ct. gold and bonding it though extreme heat and pressure to a core of semi-precious metal (brass).
- This is a very sophisticated process and only a few mills in the world do it.
- You should not mistake this process for GOLD PLATING. There is a very big difference. Rolled gold wire has a layer of gold that is more than 100 times thicker than even the highest quality vermeil or gold plating.
- The end result is a 14ct. tube which is strong, durable, and resistant to tarnish because of its 14 ct. gold covering.
- Rolled 14ct Gold is so thick that most people with metal allergies to nickel find they do not have a problem wearing this. There is no nickel in the formation process as there is in the plating process.
- Many people collect old wire gold-filled jewellery pieces and have many with dates on them from the early 1900's. They used this metal much more in the 30's and 40's to make watch bands, cameo settings, and just about everything.
- Today there are very few jewellery items made with Rolled Gold commercially. Usually they are done in a very inferior gold plate to keep the costs down.
Gold in Jewellery
Gold wash- gold deposits with a thickness from 2 to 5 millionth of an inch.
Gold plating - deposits with a minimum thickness of 7 millionth of an inch.
Gold inlays - solid pieces of gold or gold alloy attached by dovetailing (usually 14-24 karat).
Gold leaf - gold leaf is very thin, 3-4 millionth of an inch, made so by flattening under pressure. Can be hammered thin enough to transmit light.
Gold filling - refers to a base metal such as nickel that has gold sheet attached by soldering or some other means. Gold filled was once commonly used in watch cases.
Heavy gold plate - a film of fine gold plated to other metals to a thickness of at least 100 millionth of an inch.
Rolled gold - a layer of plating, of 10 carat or better, mechanically bonded to a base metal. Gold content may be less then 1/20th total weight.
Some facts about silver
- Silver's chemical symbol is ag.
- It can be hammered out into sheets so thin that it would take 100,000 of them to make a stack an inch high. These sheets are so thin that light shines through them, silver can be drawn into wires that are finer than a human hair. It is the best conductor of heat and electricity among the metals.
- The atomic weight of silver is 107.870, and its atomic number is 47. Silver melts at a temperature of 1761 degrees F or 960 degreess C. Silver has a specific gravity of 10.5. When melted, silver can absorb as much as 20 times its own volume of oxygen
- Pure silver is too soft to stand up under constant wear, it is usually mixed with copper to form an alloy before it is made into commercial articles
- Until the coinage act of 1920, British coins were 92.5 per cent silver and 7.5 per cent copper. The 1920 act reduced the silver content to 50 per cent. The 1946 act eliminated all silver in British coins. They are now made of a copper nickel alloy.
- Sterling silver contains as much or more silver as British coins did. The word sterling has been used to mean high quality silver since the 1200's.
- Silver items marked sterling means they contain at least 92.5% silver. Some jewellery, especially some of foreign make, may be marked .925, instead of the word sterling.
- Silver plate is made by coating base metals with pure silver or silver alloy by electrolysis. Silver plate, being a lot less expensive than pure silver, is more widely used for tableware.
- Silver is not changed by moisture, dryness, alkalis, or vegetable oils, but sulphur will cause silver to turn black
Bali and Thai Silver Components
In recent years, silver components from Bali and the Hill Tribes of Thailand have become popular in jewellery. Components consist of handmade beads, pendants, toggles, clasps, charms and chain that are imported from these places. They add rich texture and contrast to jewellery made of stone, glass, and pearl, and excitement to many designs.
Sterling silver consists of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper. Fine silver contains 99.9% pure silver. Bali and Thai silver can be in a range of these silver content percentages, but the majority of it, especially the Thai silver, is at the 99.9% level, making it a finer silver than much of the jewellery we buy at the counter in shops.
Bali is an island among all the other islands that form Indonesia. Certain communities specialize in the art of silversmithing, and pass their art to succeeding generations. The artists often use very simple tools, but with them achieve little works of art! They begin with pure silver that is mined in parts of Indonesia, mixing it with a tiny bit of copper to make it stronger, and a tiny bit of borax, which helps the metals melt when heated with a torch. Once melted, the silver is poured into a mould to create sheets or wire. From these pieces, the silver is cut into different shapes and sizes to form beads. Filigree type designs are created by cutting small holes into the metal, soldering thin wires onto the pieces, and applying granulation, resulting in a surprisingly wide variety of designs. After the beads are formed, they are cleaned with a solution made from tamarind fruit, then dipped into an antiquing solution which fills the grooves with a dark color and creates a contrast between the high and low parts of the bead. In this way, the beautiful pattern of the bead is enhanced.
Thai Hill Tribes Silver
During the last decade, Thai artisans from the Hilltribes of northern Thailand have gained a wonderful reputation for their beautiful, artistic creations in silver. Before that, these poor tribes earned much of their income from opium sales, but with government support, the growth of their new industry in silver artisanry and sales has set these people in a new direction and given them a better way of life.
The Hill Tribes consist of about 20 different tribes, including the Karen, the Hmong, and the Yao. Every member of the family becomes involved in the creation of silver beads, pendants and jewellery. After melting down the silver with torches, and pouring it into moulds, very small pieces are shaped by a long process of tapping. The process is very similar to that of the Bali artisans, but the style is uniquely Thai.
Thai silver pieces are amazing works of art, all made by hand, and little or no machinery. Because of this, no two pieces are exactly alike. Beads are hammered and etched, and others are sculpted into shapes, often emulating objects from nature such as ladybirds, butterflies, fish, ocean shells, leaves, and many different types of flowers. Not only do Thai silver creations enhance jewellery, they are frequently the focal point of a piece of jewellery.
Some manufacturers produce Bali and Thai-looking beads that are actually made of pewter or other alloys. Check to be sure of what you are getting... and enjoy your handcrafted silver beads!
How to Care for Your Bali and Thai Silver
All silver tarnishes naturally, but higher content silver tarnishes more slowly, and not as badly as sterling. To help prevent tarnishing, store your silver jewellery in air tight plastic bags in a cool dry place. Do not wear it swimming! You can clean off tarnish using a cloth, or a special anti-tarnish cloth available where jewellery is sold. Clean the silver carefully and avoid polishing the other beads on your jewellery, such as crystals with an AB finish, as the cloth can remove that finish. Using a cloth should not damage or remove the dark oxidation in the recesses of the silver. Also used to clean the silver are lime juice or toothpaste with a soft toothbrush, then wiped clean.