Metals Glossary & Care
We work with brass, copper, sterling and a variety of gold options. They all come in at different price points and have unique characteristics. Often when customers need help in our showroom shopping for gifts we ask about price point, what the customer already has from our collection and what color hair they have and usually that can help us help our customers find the perfect pair!
Brass has a muted gold color but is a more cost effective option and is the least expensive version when it comes to our metals. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, in proportions which can vary from suppliers which is why sometimes our brass looks light and sometimes dark. We always heat our brass to make it softer for hammering and to give it a patina. There is no nickel in brass. We love mixing metals so we usually pair our brass shape earrings with sterling wire/chain and earwires. Brass chain, which we use with brass pendants, can turn skin green, especially in the summer months, on the back of the neck which is something to consider. We usually have most styles in sterling with sterling chain.
We love using a torch to create a range of patinas on copper from orange to red to a deep burgundy. Much like raku in pottery, we are never sure exactly what we will get when it comes to the colors and patterns made on the metal with the torch, making each piece unique! After hammering, we wax the copper to try to keep the color but the wax can wear away. Over time the color may darken, we don't recommend polishing or doing anything to change or remove the patina that we went to great lengths to create! Be sure to stay away from the sea in our copper earrings cause the salt water (and salt in the air) can turn the copper green. We don't make necklaces with copper for that same reason, because the salt in the skin can turn the copper or your skin greenish, but as earrings they are fine! We often say, the color brings out the color of the lips and we find these are most popular in the fall and around Valentine's Day.
I still work with Precious Metal Clay, which is how I got started making jewelry over 20 years ago. It is made up of fine silver particles, organic binder and water. When fired in a kiln the particles fuse together, the water and binder burn off and what remains is pure silver (alchemy!) Nowadays I generally use it if I'm making a setting for a stone or if I'm combining a piece with gold Keum-Boo. Also known as fine silver, it's 99.9% silver. It's quite soft which is why we use sterling silver for most of our jewelry now.
Sterling silver is made of 92.5% fine silver and 7.5% copper. Copper gives the silver additional strength but is also what causes it to tarnish. Luckily we like tarnish here and go to great lengths to either heat patina our silver or use liver of sulfur to darken it. I LOVE texture and using patina and then polishing up the surface (but leaving the recessed areas dark) provides contrast so that you can see it. I also love how it makes the pieces look Ancient. Sterling is hypoallergenic.
Our Gold-filled pieces consist of a layer of 14 karat gold bonded to a base metal using heat and pressure. Gold-Filled sheet, wire and chain allow us to provide the look and durability of solid karat products at a fraction of the cost. Gold-Filled items will have the same appearance and can last years.
Gold fill is a great option for those with sensitive skin because the outer layer of the jewelry is a thick layer of 14k gold. Once the gold eventually wears down the brass base metal will be exposed and those with very sensitive skin may react to it.
Vermeil is a premier version of a thick electro-plating of 23.5 karat gold over a solid sterling silver base- it's the right solution for us to provide everyone who wants their JK pieces in GOLD that are durable, beautiful and affordable! 23.5k gold is the only metal to have contact with your skin, making these a wonderful option for those with sensitive skin. Once the gold wears away, sterling silver (a hypoallergenic metal) is the base metal so it is an especially good choice for those with very sensitive skin.
Over time and if exposed to moisture and sulfur in the air, the surface of brass, copper and sterling could darken. You can use a polishing paper (we can give you a small piece at the studio on the brass and sterling NEVER COPPER). Or we sell Polishing Pouches for $5! We're always happy to do a complimentary polishing of your brass or sterling earrings while you're shopping in the showroom.
We recommend not leaving your jewelry in the bathroom where it's very humid. We also suggest not wearing your jewelry in the shower, while swimming or sleeping to keep it from tangling, breaking or darkening. Always best to store your pieces in a jewelry box and to travel with them in pouches. We sell some cute ones!
You can always grab one of our 永 Polishing pouches - Each pouch contains:
- 2 polishing pads (Great for rings and heavy pieces!)
- 4 polishing papers (Great for bringing back the luster of all of our NON-copper pieces!)
- 4 additional silicone earring backs (held on a safety pin- super important to get in the habit of wearing these to protect from lost earrings!)
- Instructions on how to polish your brass and silver jewelry (how to remove the tarnish but leave the matte finish) and some general jewelry care
*Polishing papers/pads are NOT FOR OUR COPPER PIECES! We go to great lengths to get that red patina on our copper, and polishing would remove the sealing wax we add at the end that is vital to preserve all of our hard work!