What is Sterling Silver?
Sterling Silver (or 925 Silver) is silver that is 92.5% pure, alloyed with 7.5% copper. Copper gives the silver its hardness and durability, as pure silver can be quite soft. This makes the silver more forgiving to work with and wear. However, the presence of copper is what causes the silver to tarnish. Tarnish is a thin film of corrosion forming on the outermost layer of silver, which occurs as a result of reacting with air and moisture. To see how to avoid this, click here. Sterling Silver jewellery is stamped with a '925' hallmark for easy identification.
What is Continuum Silver and How Does this Differ from Sterling Silver?
Continuum Silver is a metal that contains the same amount of pure silver that Sterling Silver does, 92.5%. The difference between the two comes down to their alloys. Sterling Silver is alloyed with 7.5% copper and the presence of copper is what causes the silver to tarnish. The main alloy in Continuum Silver is Palladium. Palladium is a Platinum group metal and as such imparts several positive qualities to the silver. Platinum group metals are known for their pure white luster and durability. Continuum Silver is tarnish resistant and also closer to the hardness of 14K gold, making it an ideal substitute for Sterling Silver, while maintaining a low price point.
What is Gold Karats and How is this Different to Carats?
A karat is a measurement indicating the proportion of gold in an alloy out of 24 parts, as opposed to a carat which is a unit of weight for gemstones. It is therefore a unit which determines gold purity out of a total of 24 karats, which is 100% pure gold. Gold is a very soft, easily scratched metal and so the more pure, the less durable. This is why it is rare to have jewellery made from 14K gold. On top of being more expensive, it just is not as durable. 14K (60% gold) and 18K (75% gold) are the most preferred gold purities for jewellery and strike a good balance between purity and durability. The rest of the gold alloy is mixed in varying proportions with metals such as silver, copper, zinc and nickel.
What is Titanium?
Titanium is an extremely lightweight, strong and durable metal. Sterling silver is more than double the weight of titanium. Titanium is therefore a good choice for someone who wants jewellery, but does not want to feel the jewellery. Despite being featherweight, titanium is resistant to being bent out of form, due to its high tensile strength. It has an appealing natural gunmetal grey colour that is also resistant to fading, tarnishing and corroding; making titanium jewellery zero maintenance. Titanium is also much more scratch resistant than sterling silver, due to its hardness, but not as resistant as cobalt or tungsten carbide jewellery. Titanium is therefore more malleable than these metals, but less when compared to sterling silver. Titanium rings are unable to be resized but are hypoallergic and suitable for sensitive skin, which may react to some other metals.
What is Cobalt?
Cobalt is a metal that is extremely strong and durable, slightly more so than titanium, making cobalt jewellery extremely resistant to scratches and being bent out of form. Cobalt is far more resistant to scratches than titanium, but is not quite as durable as tungsten carbide. Cobalt is therefore more malleable than tungsten, but less so when compared with sterling silver and titanium. The premium colour of cobalt is comparable to white gold or platinum and will not fade, tarnish or corrode; making cobalt jewellery zero maintenance. Unlike tungsten and titanium rings, cobalt rings can be resized by heating to extreme temperatures. This makes cobalt an excellent choice to account for any future changes to your ring size. Cobalt is also hypoallergic and suitable for sensitive skin which may react to some other metals.
What is Tungsten?
Tungsten is a far more superior metal, in terms of tensile strength and hardness, to all other metals used for jewellery. It is completely resistant to scratches and cannot be bent out of shape, or resized for that matter. This also means the metal is not quite as malleable than the others and is harder to work with. Tungsten, like titanium, has a similar, appealing natural gunmetal grey colour that is also resistant to fading, tarnishing and corroding; making tungsten jewellery zero maintenance. Tungsten is also hypoallergic and suitable for sensitive skin which may react to some other metals.
What is Rhodium and Gold Plating?
Gold plating is a process whereby the jewellery is submerged into a heated chemical solution containing gold. When a current is applied to the solution, a chemical bonding reaction takes place and the gold is pulled from the liquid and is applied to the jewellery.
Hard gold plating is where the gold is mixed (alloyed) with another metal, such as nickel. This reduces the purity, however greatly improves the durability of the gold plating. All gold plating can be removed with wear, however hard gold plating is more resistant to this. All jewellery can be re-plated if ever needed.
Rhodium plating is essentially the same process as above but uses a metal called rhodium which is rarer than gold. Too soft to make jewellery from, it is perfect for plating and gives off a brilliant silver colour. Rhodium is, however, harder than both silver and gold and is an excellent protective coating to shield against scratches. To rhodium plate only one part of an item of jewellery, the other part is masked off, after having been gold-plated (for example), with nail polish to protect the metal from the chemical reaction.
What is Silver Plating?
Silver plating is essentially the same process as gold plating. You will notice some of our chains and necklaces are noted as silver plated in the specifications table. Why silver plate something that is already silver, you ask? The reason for this is that some of our clasps are mass produced and are not made from the same batch of silver as the rest of the chain. By silver plating the chain and the clasp together, a uniform colour is achieved as well as the benefit of protecting the base metal from scratches. However, silver plating can still wear away and is still subject to tarnishing.
What is Gold-Filled Jewellery?
Gold-filled jewellery is similar to rolled-gold jewellery, the difference being that it has a higher gold content. A gold-filled piece is created by wrapping an actual layer of gold sheet around a brass core, typically made from 90% copper and 10% zinc. By law, that layer of gold has to be 5% in weight. Heat is then used to fuse the gold layer and the underlying core together.
Because the layer of gold on a gold-filled piece of jewellery is quite a lot thicker than that on a gold-plated piece, a properly cared for gold-filled item will stand up to being worn every day for a lifetime. Gold-filled jewellery is best suited for situations where you are looking for jewellery that is long lasting, whether it's for a gift which will delight the recipient for years to come, or for a core wardrobe piece that will be worn nearly every day. Another benefit, due to the relatively low cost compared with gold, is that it's better suited to daily wear for peace of mind in case of theft.
What is Black Titanium?
Changing the exterior colour of titanium to black involves a carefully guarded manufacturing process that uses a special titanium alloy to permanently change the colour of the titanium to a deep rich black. This is not a black coating and therefore black titanium jewellery retains all of its scratch resistant properties.
What is White Tungsten?
White tungsten is formed under carefully controlled manufacturing conditions, using a special proprietary technical five-stage bonding process, which permanently alters the exterior surface colour of tungsten carbide to a rich and luxurious white, similar to that of platinum or white gold. This is done using a 95% pure platinum group metal, which is bonded to the tungsten. White tungsten carbide is slightly softer than pure tungsten carbide because of the platinum bonding, but is still much stronger than pure platinum and still much more scratch resistant than precious metals.
What is Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) Coating?
Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) is a vacuum coating process that produces a durable, high-end finish. PVD utilises a vapor stream of metallic, vaporised material, which is reacting with a gas. This is then used to deposit a thin layer of metallic material onto jewellery, only a few microns thick. Once applied, the coating is extremely durable, nearly impossible to remove and won’t wear off on its own.
When a reactive gas, such as nitrogen, oxygen or a hydrocarbon-based gas is introduced to the metallic vapor, it creates nitride, oxide, or carbide coatings as the metallic vapor stream chemically reacts with the gasses. The different combinations of metals and gases produce different colours.
PVD coatings, once applied, will match the surface finish of the object to which it is being applied to. This allows for some variation in finishes, e.g. matte or polished. Compared to gold plating, PVD coatings retain their colour far longer, 5 years or more. PVD coatings are also more resistant to corrosion from regular use and are scratch resistant, since the coating is much thicker than standard gold plating.
What is Immersion Plating?
Immersion plating is the process of applying adhering layers of nobler metals to a base metal's surface by dipping the base metal into a nobler metal ions solution, in order to produce a replacement reaction. Noble metals area group of metals that resist oxidation and corrosion in moist air. The noble metals are not easily attacked by acids. They are the opposite of the base metals, which more readily oxidise and corrode.
The reaction causes the deposition of a metallic coating on a base metal from the solution containing the coating metal. In this, one metal is typically displaced by metal ions that have lower levels of oxidation potential, relative to the metal ion being displaced.
Immersion plating is distinct from various electroplating processes, such as gold plating, in the sense that there is no presence of external current. This process follows the principle: when metal components such as tungsten are put into an electrolyte with nobler metal ions, the less noble component or metal will undergo dissolution. This, in turn results in the release of electrons, allowing highly noble metals to attach to the surface of the tungsten.
In this process, the deposition of metals is halted once the plated object is completely coated with metals of a higher nobility. This type of plating occurs at heated temperatures, dependant on the metals being used.
What is a Single or Full Cut (Brilliant Cut)?
A Cut refers to the facets, symmetry, dimensions and reflective qualities of the gemstone. The cut is different from the shape and can be described as the method of how the stone is carved into its final shape.
The Brilliant Cut, otherwise known as a Full Cut, is the 'classic' among all cut forms. Its designation applies exclusively to the circular form of cut, which exhibits at least 32 facets and a table on the crown, and at least 24 facets and a culet on the pavilion. The crown is the top half of the gemstone, whereas the pavillion is the bottom, pointed half; the point being the 'cutlet.' Facets are each of the straight faces. Single Cuts are not quite as popular, with only 16 or 17 facets.
What are the Different Grades of Diamonds?
GIA is an independent, non-profit organisation that conducts gem research, educates gem professionals and sets the standards for determining diamond quality. GIA created the '4Cs' of diamond quality: colour, clarity, cut and carat. Cut is described above and carat is essentially the weight; the larger the weight of a diamond for a specific size, the better the quality. The main identifiers of quality, however, are colour and clarity. Diamonds come in various colours graded as colourless right through to light yellow. It should be obvious that colourless diamonds are of higher quality. Clarity refers to imperfections or impurities which may be present within the diamond. This ranges from internally flawless to imperfect. Refer to the GIA grading scale below.
A lot of our jewellery that uses small diamonds, have diamonds that are graded as colourless and imperfect. This ensures the correct colour while also keeping costs at a minimum. Due to the small size of the stone, it is harder to pick up the imperfections anyway. This, however, would be more noticeable with a larger stone.
What are Some Common Shapes of Gemstones?
See below for some common shapes:
Is Square-cut and Princess-cut the same thing?
No. Square and Princess-cut stones have the same shape, but the difference is in how they are cut. The square stones are cut using Step-cut facets (rectangular shaped), like those observed in an Emerald-cut stone (this has no correlation to the type of gemstone know as an Emerald). A Princess-cut stone is actually slang terminology, describing both the shape and the cut. The correct terminology is a Square-modified Brilliant Cut. The term 'modified' is there to let you know the gem is not in a traditional round shape, while the term 'brilliant' describes the cutting method, which is by triangular facets.