Jewelry Materials Guide

If you’ve spent time shopping for jewelry, you’d know there are a lot of different materials to choose from. In this post, I’ll talk about some of the materials most commonly used in handmade jewelry and specifically the different materials offered at Pyrite and Pearls. 


Gold -Filled Jewelry 

I get this question a lot! What is Gold-Filled Jewelry? How is it different from gold-plated jewelry? 

Gold Filled jewelry is not really ‘filled’ but layered with 12 or 14 karat gold over a brass core. The gold layer is pressure bonded on to a high quality jewelers brass core, making it permanent. Gold-filled jewelry is also known as rolled-gold, or rolled-gold plate. This material is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission and the gold layer must be 1/20  or 5% of the item’s total weight. 

Unlike gold plated jewelry, the gold layer in gold-filled materials won’t flake off, chip, or turn your skin green. The thick layer of gold also means that gold-filled is generally suitable for those with sensitive skin. Gold-filled jewelry is a great alternative to solid gold at a much more accessible price point. 

With usual wear, gold-filled jewelry doesn’t tarnish or need any extra care. If it needs cleaning, polishing with a soft cloth like Sunshine Cloth, or a cotton cloth would do the trick. Every so often, it helps to clean your jewelry in warm water with a drop of mild dish soap. Let it dry completely before putting it away. 


Gold Plated Jewelry 

Gold plated jewelry is probably one we are all familiar with. It’s a single layer plating of gold over a base. The thickness of gold plating can vary, and there is no set standard for how much gold is required in the plating process. Gold-plated jewelry is the most economical choice, and with a little care, can last a long time. Gold plated jewelry can tarnish if it comes in contact with harsh chemicals, perfumes and cosmetics so I recommend putting it on last, after all cosmetics. The FAQs page has additional tips on how to care for your jewelry.


Jeweler’s Brass 

Brass is a bright yellow or reddish alloy made up of copper and zinc. Brass is a durable metal, making it a solid choice for many jewelry designs. Jeweler’s brass is a close match to the color of 14k gold, making it a popular choice for designers wanting to create a true gold look. Brass can tarnish, and for some people can also turn your skin green. Personally, I love the warmth of brass and enjoy creating with it. Many of my designs are made with Jeweler’s Brass. 


Sterling Silver

Sterling silver is an alloy made with 92.5 pure silver and 7.5% copper. On its own, silver is a pretty soft metal, and adding copper gives it durability and strength. The copper is also what’s responsible for sterling silver’s trademark tarnish, also known as oxidation, which happens when sterling silver is left exposed to air. Sterling silver is easy to polish and bring back to its shiny state with a polishing cloth. 

Sterling silver jewelry is sometimes referred to as “.925 Silver”  and often bears a .925 stamp on it so it’s easy to identify. While I used sterling silver chains and wire often in my designs, I don’t individually stamp my pieces. Rest assured, I use only sterling silver in my designs. 


Rhodium Plated 

Rhodium is a precious metal in the platinum family and is known for being durable. Plating with rhodium allows the metal to be more resistant to scratches and tends to stay shiny. It's these specific properties that lead me to opt for Rhodium plated chains in many of my designs. 

Like all plated jewelry, with a little care it can last a long time. The plating is also hypoallergenic and safe for most skin types. 


Surgical Steel and Stainless Steel 

Just as the name suggests, surgical steel is the same grade of steel used in surgical tools such as dental tools or scalpels. It is also the grade of steel used in implants, making it most suited to those with very sensitive skin. It’s a hypoallergenic metal that is suited to most skin types, particularly to sensitive ones. 

Stainless steel is also used for jewelry making, particularly earrings, as it shares the similar hypoallergenic properties as surgical steel. 

Many of the stud earrings offered at Pyrite and Pearl use surgical steel posts. 


So those are all the materials offered at Pyrite and Pearls. I’d love to hear from you! What are your favorite materials? Is there a material you love that you’d like to see offered? Let me know!