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What metals do you use, how long do they last, and are they hypoallergenic?
14K Gold Filled: 14K Gold Filled is a regulated amount of 14K gold (5%) bonded to a base metal, usually brass. It is the next best thing to solid 14K gold and is considered hypo-allergenic. With proper care it should not tarnish or discolor your skin. The finish will last one to five years under heavy wear and a lifetime under occasional wear. Sometimes Gold Filled is referred to as Rolled Gold. I use both yellow & pink rose gold filled.
Sterling Silver: Sterling Silver is a mixture of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper. The copper is used as a hardener as pure silver is too soft for many jewelry applications. Sterling Silver is the standard for fine jewelry and is the whitest of all metals. It is also considered hypoallergenic and should last a lifetime.
Vermeil: Vermeil is a heavy 18-22k gold plate (100 mils or more) over sterling silver. If it is gold plated over a base metal, that is NOT Vermeil, that is gold plate. There are times when the choices in Vermeil are greater than those in Gold Filled. It is the next best thing to Gold Filled. I use both yellow & pink rose gold vermeil. Because it is sterling with gold, it is usually considered very hypo-allergenic as well. Vermeil will need to be re-plated over long wear & use.
What about Gemstones & Pearls?
Gemstones: The term gemstone is used to describe a variety of minerals that mingle with other metals & impurities: these metals & impurities create a variety of colours in the minerals. These organic materials are then used in their natural or cut form to create the jewellery that we all so love. I try to use the most interesting & lovely gemstones that I can. My favourites are tourmalines and garnet which come in an unbelievably wide variety of colours naturally. Although I do not cut the stones myself, I seek out the shapes and colours that will allow me to create unique and wearable pieces of art.
Pearls: A Pearl is a natural & organic gem that is formed inside a mollusk over time. Today, most pearls are harvested instead of naturally found. A big difference being that the harvested or "farmed" pearls require a farmer to insert a silica substance in the mollusk; it then creates a nacre over that compound and a pearl is born. Mussles instead of oysters are often used to create freshwater pearls, and they can yield many inside one mussel. A saltwater pearl inside an oyster is more rare as only one is formed at a time, and can take much longer. The quality and variety of freshwater pearls is not to be underestimated and their history has been a long and beautiful one.
How do I care for my Jewelry:
First of all, Princessgear Jewelry is handmade and often times a mixture of many unique materials. Therefore I suggest never putting any of my pieces in a sonic cleaner.
My first piece of advice is to always put your jewellery on last - after the perfume, the hair spray, etc.
Second, take your jewellery off and place it in an airtight container and lay it flat at the end of the day. This will definitely prolong the lustre, beauty and wearability of your pieces.
It's always tempting to wear the pieces all day long, in the pool, in the shower, out to play, but it will diminish the shine and potentially shorten the lifespan of your piece. It's best to take off the pieces before you get in the sea, the pool, the shower, etc.
Gently rubbing the metal surfaces with a cloth is also a great way of keeping the pieces bright and lovely. However, this method is not recommended for vermeil.
If the item is strung on silk, I would suggest you avoid getting it wet as it could stretch the piece. If you do get a strung item wet, just place is flat on a paper towel and allow to dry completely before handling.
All Sterling Silver will oxidise over time if exposed to air, chemicals or oil. If you want to maintain the "brightness" of your silver, then its is always best to put it in an airtight container at the end of the day. Remember that vermeil is gold over sterling and this principle applies as well.
Vermeil is such an amazing material, but it must be handled with care if you hope to preserve its beauty. You should not rub vermeil items, and once oxidation has started, you cannot reverse it. Thats why I suggest you keep vermeil pieces in airtight containers to keep them as they originally came to you. As I am just a little maker, I cannot offer to re-plate your items, but this can be done by some commercial jewellers.