(At least it’s the truth according to Gretchen Smith)
I have a policy of backing everything I make as long as the issue is due to material or workmanship failure. I’m probably a little too trusting of people on this, but I also trust my jewelry to hold up. That said, I try to be open and honest about my materials and workmanship. If I discover an issue with something I’ve done, I like to let my clients know about it (see the previous post on clasp attachments.)
Now, let’s get to the meat and potatoes.
A few years ago, it was suggested to me to try my hand at using silver-plated findings (the pieces holding the beads together such as the clasps and earwires are called findings) instead of sterling silver. This allows the finished piece to be less expensive, which opens up the possibilities for more ladies who want jewelry but are on a tight budget.
Let’s cover some definitions…
Silver- (or gold) plated – A thin layer of silver (or gold) deposited over a base metal (often brass)
Sterling silver – An alloy of at least 92.5% silver and (usually) copper (it is usually stamped .925). Sterling silver can be polished over and over to a bright shine.
I’ll admit I was hesitant to use silver-plated findings because I had heard about it wearing off. Several artisans who use silver-plated findings assured me that the hold up quite well and they’ve never had trouble with the plating wearing off.
Fast-forward to the first show of this year. I had a client pick up a few pairs of earrings she was interested in purchasing and she asked me whether they were silver or gold. As soon as I looked at them I realized the silver plating was wearing off and what she thought was gold was the brass base underneath. I explained to her what happened, and she noted she had a metal allergy and couldn’t usually wear plated metals because she broke out in a rash. She settled on a sterling silver pair of earrings instead.
I share this with you because if you have purchased a piece of jewelry from me which you know was silver-plated and it is starting to show signs of discoloration, please let me know. I will replace the findings for you. For no cost, they will be replaced with new silver-plated findings (or surgical steel in the case of earwires). I can also replace them with sterling silver findings, but there will be a cost to this (however, it will pay off in the long run).
Because of this issue, I plan on returning to my original business plan of using sterling silver for my jewelry creations. You will pay a little more up front, but the cost will be worth it over time. I do try to follow the metal market as closely as possible to assure I am getting the best prices on my materials I can find so I can make the pieces as affordable as possible for you.
Thanks for reading!