Monday, January 25, 2010

Vermeil? Gold-filled? The different types of precious metals commonly used in artisan jewellery

Many of you would be familiar with sterling silver and solid gold. But have you heard of gold-filled, vermeil or karean silver? These are just different types of precious metals commonly used in jewellery and are NOT to be confused with plated jewellery, which often are steel or some other cheap alloys plated with a thin layer of gold or silver that tarnishes easily and permanently.


Gold is the most precious of all metals. However, pure gold (24K gold) is very soft and therefore unsuitable for making jewellery. Other metals have to be added to pure gold to harden it so that it can be worked on. This results in different types of gold - white gold, yellow gold, rose gold, purple gold etc. For example, copper is added to pure gold to achieve the rosy hue you see in rose gold jewellery.


Vermeil (pronounced vehr-MAY), is also known as silver gilt. It is sterling silver coated in a layer of gold to give a gold appearance. To be labelled vermeil, the gold must also be at least 10-karat and be at least 1.5 micrometers thick. Sterling silver covered with any metal other than gold cannot be called vermeil.

Gold filled(GF) is an actual layer of gold pressure bonded to another metal. GF is not the same as gold plating as it has about 100 times more gold than gold plating. It is therefore much more valuable and tarnish resistant and can last a lifetime, with proper care. It looks like solid gold and wears like solid gold, but at a fraction of the cost.

Karean silver

Karean or Karen silver has between 99.5% and 99.9% pure silver, a much higher silver content than sterling silver. The solder used to fuse the silver components together makes up the last fractions of a percent. Consequently, it has a weight, bright satin colour, and feel, all of its own.
Every piece is handmade and no two pieces are alike. You can actually see evidence of each piece having been formed by the hands of a Karen craftsmen and that's part of its appeal.

Sterling Silver

925 Sterling Silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals, usually copper.Copper gives it strength whilst preserving the malleability of the silver, making it ideal for making silver jewellery.
I hope the above gives you an idea what you are getting when you next shop for jewellery.

At Maggie In The May, I use only sterling silver and 14K gold-filled metal components, so you can be assured of the quality of my handmade creations which are meant to last. Even though sterling silver tarnishes when left exposed to air and gold-filled will lose some its luster over time, you can easily bring back the shine with jewellery polishing cloths.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Getting it right

I hate to say this but it must be a sign of old age when after 3 weeks, I still have trouble getting up at 6am.  Seems like I am taking longer to adjust to a new routine this new year.  I thought I had it down to a pat when I was planning my daily routine this year:
Get up at 6am, get our dear son ready for school, check and reply email, go to the gym, do my QT, send our dear daughter to school, do some work/run errands..........

Reads like a good plan right?  Wrong.  It seems when you are trying to run your life like clockwork, Murphy's law will come into play. So there are some mornings I drag myself out of bed to get dear son ready for school, only to tumble back to bed when he leaves.  So much for the list of activities I had planned.  Then there are days the kids make my plans go awry.   After some frustrations at how unproductive I am on some days, I now have come to realised that a plan is just that, a plan.  While it is good to have daily goals, I need to be more relaxed when things don't go according to schedule. So what if I didn't get to blog today?  So what if I missed my workout?   What is more important to me is that I can be there for my kids.  I am blessed that I can be there to witness the adorable things they say and do, be the first to give my son a pat on his back for doing well in his spelling test or just hug them when they need some TLC.  Work can wait. :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

How to Care For Your Jewellery

I did promise more useful jewellery articles, so here's another one. If you like reading them, remember to click on the labels "Jewellery Articles" to see all my articles at one go.

1. Store your jewellery separately
I'm guilty of it sometimes. When I am in a rush, I just plonk my jewellery on my bathroom counter or throw them in a box with my other bits and pieces. DON'T! We should try to keep our beautiful jewellery (especially those lovely handmade ones) stored separately to prevent entanglement and scratches. My favourite way to keep them without the bulky boxes? Use a small ziploc bag for each piece to prevent scratches. With ziploc or any clear bag, you can also identify your jewellery easily and quickly.
2. Clean after each wear
Wipe your jewellery with a clean and soft lint free cloth after wearing to remove any body oils or residues that will make your gemstones dull and tarnish precious metals.
3. Put on your jewellery last
Makeup, perfume, lotions and body and hair sprays are bad news for jewellery. They make silver tarnish easily, not to mention ruin those plated jewellery. Wait a good five minutes before your wear your jewellery and you will help to keep them lovely for years to come.
4. Avoid pool or sea water or any water!
Any prolonged immersion in any liquid is bad for your jewellery. Remove them before showering, doing dishes or swimming. Chlorine found in pool or tap water can change the colour of gemstones and precious metal.
5. Never sleep with your handmade jewellery on
Most handmade jewellery are delicate things. Sleeping with them on may cause them to become misshapened or even break.
6. Store necklaces and bracelets flat
To prevent your necklaces and bracelets from tangling and also to retain their proper tension (especially those with heavier gemstones), store them lying flat in jewellery boxes or wrapped in cloth.
7. Keep silver jewellery in sealed plastic bags
Silver tarnishes as a result of its reaction to air. To keep them shiny longer, store each piece in a sealed plastic bag. I keep mine in small ziploc bags. And if they do tarnish, just polish them gently with a silver polish cloth. For hard to clean areas, I dip a cotton bud with a tiny amount of liquid silver cleaner and clean those areas very gently and carefully, especially if there are gemstones on that piece.
8. Avoid repeated exposure to direct sunlight
Prolonged exposure to strong sunlight can cause some gemstones to fade or discolour over time.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

headlong into the new year

Happy New Year!  I can't believe it, it's already week 2 of the new year!  First I couldn't wait for the new year to come as my son was starting primary school. Now, the two weeks have just whizzed by and not only has he started primary school, he has already done numerous pages of homework!  it makes me feel like I'm back to school myself as I help him to complete his homework daily.  Hmmm, just wondering why is he getting so much homework when I know other kids his age who are attending other schools hardly have any homework.

Well, between settling down in primary school and being thrown headlong into the new year, I managed to find time to do a couple of custom orders - both are pearl necklaces. One is a lovely cream coloured swarovski pearls with hematite and crystals while the other is a black freshwater pearl necklace strung with a modern twist.  I love them both because they are both elegant and yet look so different from each other.

The new year has been kind of slow for me in terms of business.  It just means I have to work harder on my etsy shop - list more items and maybe some promotion.  Time to get organised! To those reading this, more useful jewellery articles will be posted here soon.