Thursday, 26 March 2015

Gold, gold filled, rolled gold.... what!?!

This year I've been working a lot more with gold, and trying to expand the range I can offer in my shop.

I'm working with 9k gold as standard but, I'll be honest with you - it's pricey. And so I do like to offer a more economical option, with that same golden loveliness.

So here they are... gold filled stacking rings are now available in a Becky Pearce Designs shop near you.

Labradorite gold filled ring
BUT what the heck is gold fill? Is it the same as rolled gold and gold plate? Is it going to wear off?

Gold filled metal is made by heat and pressure bonding gold onto a base metal (usually brass) core. Basically sandwiching the base metal. The important thing is that the proportion of the gold on the metal has to be at least 20% of the total weight, so it's quite a substantial amount compared to gold plating where the gold is a microscopic film rather than an actual layer.

The gold filled material I'm using at the moment is 20% gold, but I believe you can also get 40% gold material.

Rolled gold is not quite as good quality - the proportion of gold is less than 20%. So whilst it is still in a layer form rather than a film, and is therefore better than gold plated goods - it will wear more readily than gold filled.

Textured gold filled rings
(available in yellow and rose gold)

I have been trying to get an idea of the kind of wear you can expect with gold filled material, especially in comparison with gold plating which we all know about - and found this info on Wiki.

"Gold-filled items, even with daily wear, can last five to 30 years but will eventually wear through. The gold layer on gold-plated jewelry varies greatly depending on manufacturer, so there is no single, simple comparison. Gold-filled items are 50 to 100,000 times thicker than regular gold plating, and 17 to 25,000 times thicker than heavy gold electroplate (sometimes stamped HGE or HGP—usually found oncubic zirconia "cocktail rings")."

The recommendation is to treat your gold filled jewellery just as you would gold. Gently clean with a soft cloth every now and again, and make sure you take it off before swimming and it should last for years and years.

I'm fairly new to this material, so will be experimenting and playing with the designs I can do. It can apparently be slightly tricky to solder, so designs which require more than one or two solder joints are probably out for now, but I'll keep you posted about how I'm find it to work with.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

The difference between cabochon and faceted stones

I've been getting loads of requests for custom birthstone stacking rings recently, and a question that always comes up in conversations about stone choice, is about the difference between cabochon and faceted stones. And what on earth they are anyway.

Opal cabochon, amethyst rose cut, garnet faceted trillion

So here goes, my attempt to clear up any confusion.

What is a cabcohon stone?

A cabochon is cut with a flat back and a domed top....

Sapphire stacking ring

Like this sapphire stone in the ring above. It has a smooth dome on top, and a flat back. It is set in a bezel setting.

What are faceted stones?

The other kind of stone I often use is a faceted gem.

These stones usually have a pointed back, with facets or cuts taken from the stone which helps to bounce the light around. Faceting a stone is a key way to add value to a transparent stone, as it gives a higher luster and a better play of colour in the stone.

The Cubic Zirconia above is a manmade faceted stone - I've shown this picture as hopefully you can get an idea of what the stones are like, but for stacking rings I tend to use more enclosed settings like the one below...
Dark (fire) citrine ring you only see the sparkly top of the stone.

Some stones are much more commonly found in one sort or the other. For example, turquoise (the birthstone for December) and opal (the birthstone for October) are pretty much always cabochon stones.

What the heck are rose cut stones then?

So, now for my fave stone of the moment - the rose cut stone. This is a kind of crossover. It's a cabochon stone (so it has a flat back and a dome) but it's also faceted...I know confusing! Here's a diagram..

Rose cut stones went out of fashion for a while, because they don't really add much brilliance or light to the stone. But I've gone completely crazy for them - I like that they're a little unusual and quirky, and I love how they bounce the light.

Rose cut rose quartz stacking ring

London Blue Topaz Earrings
So there you go - a very quick guided tour of some of the types of stones I use!

I'll also put together a post on the different shapes I can offer. Sadly my shop is a little out of date - so many of the things I make still haven't made it to a listing, so if there's something you'd like in particular, just email me to discuss. I could have the perfect stone sitting in my stash right now.

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