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Frequently asked Questions
1. What is "Gold Filled"?
Gold-filled jewellery (also called Gold Overlay) is composed of a solid layer of gold bonded with heat and pressure, to a base metal such as brass. Some high quality gold-filled pieces have the look, lustre, and beauty of 14 karat (58%) gold. By definition, the minimum layer of karat gold in an item stamped GF must equal at least 1/20 the weight of the total item. 1/20 12kt GF is the most common stamp you will find on gold-filled jewellery. 10kt and 14kt are also common karatages. Gold filled items, even with daily wear, can last five to 30 years but will eventually wear through. The gold layer on gold plated jewellery 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 on flashy cubic zirconia "cocktail rings").
2. What is "Gold plated" and how good is it?
Most "Gold plated" items are actually flash plated (gilt). That is, the item is placed quickly in a solution until it just has achieved a gold colour. Plated products in this way often do not last very long, but the price of proper thickness plating is often too high for commercial purposes. I can't see that this will change soon either since during 2007 prices of raw materials have jumped so dramatically that most brass based products (as well as plated) have increased in price by up to 150%. Take care of the plating by cleaning the jewellery after wear. Humidity and perfume oils will also affect the jewellery. Most fashion designers that have ongoing production will often purchase findings in “Raw”. The product is assemble and than given to an electro plater for full thickness plating. However, this will increase the cost considerably.
Update in regards to gold plating October 2009:
Most gold plated jewellery has a thin wash of as little as 1 micro inch (.025 microns). Since this leads to fast wear and discolouration of most gold plated items, we are now introducing a higher grade of plating wherever possible. This gold plate is 40 TIMES as thick, at 40 micro inches (1 micron). Although more expensive than gilt plate (the standard currently used by us), we find this thickness extremely durable and will increase the life of the product dramatically. Hence, to distinguish this product from other forms of plating, the description of the item will include “1MGP” instead of the standard “GP” or “G/P”.
3. What is "Nickel free'?
To achieve a glossy smooth surface when plating a product either silver or gold, the item is traditionally first plated with nickel. After the final gold or silver plating often the nickel can leach through the plating or becomes exposed through wear. Statically, 10% of women and 5% of men are allergic to nickel and some suggestion has been made that there are other health risk associated to nickel. This led to the use of nickel to be banned in most parts of Europe and to the inclusion of a warning label for plated goods sold in California USA. However goods plated for the Australian and Asian market are still plated with nickel content. Due to the additional costs of plating nickel free, approximately 30% extra charge, there is little incentive for businesses to convert over to all nickel free.
4. What is the difference between 'Sterling Silver" and "Fine Silver"?
Sterling Silver, also referred to as "925" is generally 925 parts pure silver and 75 parts copper. The copper content has been added to allow for the soldering of silver using solder that will melt at different temperatures. Some Sterling Silver products are also now available with additional additives so that the metal is tarnish resistant, or is plated or coated in some way to reduce the risk of tarnishing.
Fine Silver is pure silver and is not suitable for soldering. It, however, is highly resistant to tarnishing and used in kiln work since heat will not change its colour.
5.What is “Swarovski Crystal”
There are two forms of Crystal, the stuff that comes out of the ground, and manmade. Swarovski is of the later. Manmade crystal is glass with a minimum lead oxide content of 30%. So when you get offered Chinese Crystal at 15% you know it’s not crystal. Please note that there is no leaching of lead since the glass is molecular fused with the glass (I don’t think that you would be able to purchase crystal wine glasses otherwise).
Crystal, rather than any other of the many different glasses produced, is used due to it softness and density for cutting and polishing and it’s clarity. All Swarovski glass is precision machine cut. Colour names such as “Amethyst” and “Aquamarine” refer to the colour and do not indicate the nature of the product as sometimes assumed.
Natural Crystal is rarely pure but has lines and clouds included. Often glass is sold as crystal. Check for tiny bubbles, which are a clear indication that the product is not crystal.
6. What are the differences between all the Pearls?
Can be divided between Fresh and Salt Water. There are more than 1.2 tonnes of Freshwater pearls sold in China every day alone. Although these are often very nice they have otherwise no long-term value unlike the saltwater pearls. Although the price of saltwater pearls is much higher partly due to the difficulty in cultivating them, it can also be argued that the price is reasonably stable due to the tight regulation of the market. For more info on natural colours etc see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl.
Have a crystal base and are coated with a synthetic product. Swarovski claims to have the best quality artificial pearls, are dry cleanable and perfume resistant, and extremely cheap when compared in quality to the nearest competitor.
Shell based Pearl:
The base of the pearl is a shell, similar to those inserted into freshwater pearls to create a natural pearl. However, the coating is artificial like the Swarovski Pearl. We have no information available on the wear and tear properties of the pearls.
7. What is “Art Clay Silver”.
The product is finely ground pure silver with an organic non-toxic binder added. It is called clay because the additional water makes it look and feel somewhat like clay. However, the product quickly dries out and becomes solid within 24 hours if left exposed to the air in a lump. When the product is heated over a gas flame the binder will shrink and hold the particles of the silver together. This will result in a bond similar in nature to cast iron which is solid but not overly flexible (will snap off if too thin or bend to often).
8.Tiger tail and other wires. What is that with 7 strand and 49 strands?
Ok, tigertail and the other stainless steel wires such as produced by ‘Softflex’ and ‘Beadalon’ are several strands of wire twisted together to create a robe after which the wire is coated in Nylon. Some wire is also plated before coating. The wires are often referred to a 3,7, 19,21 and 49 strands, although we are talking about a single strand being the end result. The more strands are used within the resulting wire the more flexible and kink resistant the wire becomes. With ‘Softflex’ products the wire also looks a bit more greyish rather than metallic and can be knotted. Although ‘Softflex’ and ‘Beadalon’ seems expensive please note that most necklaces only use 50cm of wire! When the wire is referred to a clear it simply means that the nylon coating is clear. Most wires will get their colour through adding oxide to the nylon unless the product states that it has been plated. Note also that the “gold coloured” wire sold by ‘Beadalon’ is actually Brass and not Stainless steel. Brass is very soft, like silver, and will kink easily.