Let's talk Metal

gold casting grain

We all love jewellery, right? But do you actually know what it is.... The metal that is. In this blog i'm going to cover some basics about the metals i work with and clear up some facts and common misconceptions.

Alloy - noun - A metal made by combining two or more metallic elements.

Jewellery is often made using a combination of metals. This is done to increase the strength and durability of the metal and it often comes with the added benefit of the finished jewellery being more resistant to tarnish.

Listed below are the metals I work with and their composition

Sterling Silver and Fine Silver

  • Sterling silver .925 - 92.5% Silver and 7.5% something else, generally copper or zinc. 
  • Fine silver .999 - 99.9% Silver and .01% copper.


Pure gold 24k  is extremely soft, so it is alloyed with other metals to strengthen it and make it more durable and suitable for use in jewellery. 
  • 18k gold - 75% gold, 25% other
  • 14k gold - 58.3% gold, 41.7% other
  • 10k gold - 41.6% gold, 58.4% other

We use gold in 10k, 14k and 18k. 14k being the most common.

bonus fact. The metals that are alloyed with gold are what determines the colours of the gold alloy. Ie ‘rose gold’ is gold mixed with copper, ‘yellow gold’ is mixed with copper/zinc and ‘white gold’ is a mix of silver/palladium.

Gold Filled

Gold filled is made using a process of heat and pressure to bond a thick layer of solid gold onto a base core, usually brass.

Because the metal is bonded to the base, it doesn't flake off or chip away like plated jewellery does. If your gold filled jewellery is well cared for you'll have it for years to come. 

The visual below is to give you an idea of the comparison between solid gold, gold filled and gold plated. 

gold filled explained by ivy design jewellery



Choosing between sterling silver or white gold

If you’re looking for the perfect heirloom piece - Gold is more durable than sterling silver. It has more resistance to both scratches and tarnish.
White gold is what we would recommend in this situation.


Rhodium plating - What is it?

Rhodium plating is used to make white gold look more white.
The natural colour of white gold is actually a light grey colour. Rhodium however is naturally white, so you’ll often find that white gold pieces are plated in rhodium to give them the appearance it's so commonly known for.

The plating does eventually wear away and because of this the jewellery does require maintenance. To keep a white gold ring looking its best it should be replated approximately every 12 to 18 months.

bonus fact; White gold was originally developed to imitate platinum. People loved the naturally crisp white colour of platinum however the high price point of it made it less obtainable.

Will it tarnish?

This is a pretty broad question and I get it all the time.
Under the right conditions any jewellery can tarnish. Yes, even gold.

Whilst gold itself is highly resistant to tarnish it’s the other metals in the alloy that are less resistant and are the culprits to it. 

Quote from our ‘Jewellery Care’ page
It is natural for metals to tarnish (blacken or discolour) over time, particularly if a piece is worn regularly. Tarnish has several causing factors, including;
  • - Acidity (ph balance) of a person's skin
  • Exposure to moisture, oxygen, sunlight
  • Exposure to chemicals - cleaning, soaps and conditioners, beauty products, makeup, perfumes, hair sprays etc

  • That's it for now, we will continue to update this blog as we grow. 

    Steph  ✧・゚ 

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