The majority of my jewelry is made using sterling silver beads, components and findings. I like the incredible variety available, the style and look of those components and how they combine with the stones I prefer when creating my designs.
All my handmade earwires, hooks and eyes, wire wrapping, handmade silver rings, sculptural pieces, artistic wire shapes and even some of my beads are made using a special type of sterling silver called Argentium Sterling Silver.
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 Sterling Silver is rated as both brighter and whiter than even Sterling Silver. One of the major concerns in regards to silver has always been tarnishing. Besides making a more durable and hard alloy of sterling silver that is both higher in purity and and strength, Argentium Sterling Silver is recognized for its tarnish resistance. It will still tarnish, but it will take much longer.
Occasionally, I find components that are silver on pewter with an anti-tarnish coating that I find irrestible. If I use these, I always note this in the description.
When gold is used to create a piece of jewelry, there may be a combination of several metals in the same piece.
Beads: Most of the fancy, antique-looking gold beads I use are pewter with a gold layer covered by an anti-tarnish coating. I have found these components have a beautiful finish that lasts for years and years. Sometimes, I use brass beads, which will need a polishing cloth if left unworn for very long. Occasionally, I use vermeil beads, which is the name for a sterling silver bead that has coated with a layer of gold, usually 14 kt, but sometimes 22 kt. I rarely use gold-plated because this is the thinnest layer of gold and will wear off to reveal the base metal below and is the worst option for people with metal sensitivities.
Components: The gold I use for nearly all my wire components--anything from earwires and hooks to artistic shapes and rings/hoops, is 14 kt gold-filled wire. Gold-filled wire has a base metal core with a very thick layer of 14 kt gold on the outside. These products can give a lifetime of wear while never exposing the base layer below so they are usually safe for people with metal sensitivities.
The same is true for the extender chain on necklaces and bracelets--unless otherwise noted, it is 14 kt gold-filled, a high quality product at an affordable price point for my customers.
Brass wire is sometimes used to make components and to wrap--this is always noted in the description. Some women like its funky and antiqued look when it becomes tarnished, others like to use a polishing cloth to bring it back to a nice, bright gold shine. It is a big money-saver.
Copper is another favorite of mine. I love using it for artistic wire shapes, love the beads I find in copper and I absolutely love it combined with certain stones such as turquoise! Copper will tarnish. Some women enjoy its funky antique look and others prefer to use a polishing cloth to make it bright and shiny. Any time I use copper for earrings I always use niobium for the ear hooks.
Niobium is a non-reactive metal that is sometimes used for medical implants, similar to titanium. It comes in many colors, but I usually use the brown or black for my ear wires. If you have extreme metal sensitivities, try niobium ear wires! They don't work for everyone, but many women find they can wear them when they can't wear sterling silver or gold filled. I can switch ANY earring over to niobium upon request. Just ask. No extra charge--I want to make an earring addict out of you!