We've all heard of fine jewelry and fashion (costume) jewelry, but have you ever heard of bridge jewelry?
Fashion Jewelry: When I first started making jewelry, I picked up some beads & findings from a national craft store and made some simple earrings to wear to work. They were cute and fun, but I found the metals lost their luster in a short time. It seemed a shame to spend the time making them to have them become dull & hazy and in my mind, unwearable. Shelling out a few bucks at the local big-box is fine if I only wanted to wear them a couple of times, but I wanted mine to last. Fashion jewelry has its place, but it isn't what I was interested in.
Fine jewelry is made with precious metal and stones. Diamonds, emeralds, sapphires & rubies are the only stones classified as precious; and the precious metals used are gold, fine silver or platinum. It has a hefty price tag but properly cared for should last for all time.
Bridge Jewelry: Bridge jewelry bridges the gap between fashion jewelry and premier fine jewelry. It is made with materials such as copper, sterling and gold filled (not to be confused with gold plated) metals and generally speaking, semi-precious stones. Bridge jewelry is much less expensive than fine jewelry and if properly made and cared for, you’ll be passing them down to the next generation.
At Divella Designs the jewelry is classified as bridge jewelry. The metals i use are pure copper, jeweler's brass sheet, sterling silver, fine silver, and 14k gold filled; the stones are semi-precious. Now, gold filled is not the same as gold plated. Both the amount of gold used and how it is made are very different.
In gold plating a minuscule amount of gold is plated onto the surface using an electrical current forming a very thin layer of gold on the top. This means that any friction, even cleaning can make the gold begin to peal and flake off. Gold filled has 100 times the amount of gold and to make gold-filled pieces, the core metal is sandwiched between two layers of gold alloy which is then heated and passed through a roller several times. This process both bonds the metals together and thins the sheet out. If you tried to form gold plated metals the gold cracks and flakes off. Conversely, gold filled, can be formed and even soldered while maintaining the original shine and sheen.
I do use 24k gold in my Keum-Boo pieces, but that’s an entirely different subject to be discussed later.