For the curious, we’ve collected answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about our jewelry. Feel free to contact us with your questions if you don’t see it in the list.
- What is Swarovski crystal and why is it so prized?
- What is Preciosa crystal?
- What does rhodium-plated mean?
- What is the difference between gold plated, gold-filled and vermeil?
- What is cloisonne?
- What are lampworked beads?
- What are foil-lined beads?
- What is Venetian glass?
- What is the difference between natural, cultured, freshwater and shell pearls?
- What are Swarovski pearls?
- What is the best way to care for my jewelry?
Swarovski, made in Austria, has a gorgeous uniform color, precision-cut facets, captivating sparkle and distinctive palette; in fact, it represents the highest standard of quality and is generally regarded as the finest of its kind throughout the world. Swarovski crystals are favored by some of the most prestigious fashion houses and used to enhance crystal glass sculptures and miniatures, jewelry, couture, home decor, chandeliers, fashion accessories, crystal-based ornaments and much more.
Preciosa is a leading jewelry company based in the Czech Republic. The company’s namesake crystals are known throughout the world for their outstanding clarity and sparkle; they come in a wide variety of shapes, colors and sizes, and also grace chandeliers, contemporary lighting fixtures and myriad gifts. In addition, Preciosa produces high-quality beads, stones and other fashion jewelry components.
Rhodium is a member of the platinum family, an extraordinarily well-heeled member, as it is much more expensive than gold or platinum itself. This is one major reason we don’t see rhodium jewelry. Yet, jewelers commonly plate sterling silver and white gold with rhodium because it is is very white, reflective, extremely durable, hypoallergenic and tarnish-proof. Note: I only use genuine rhodium plating in my pieces, never “imitation rhodium.
Gold plating is the process of adding a thin layer of gold to another metal in order to give that metal a gold-like appearance. In most cases, the layer of gold is very thin, just enough to cover all exposed surfaces of the other metal. It is most often used in jewelry plating. Note: This is not the same as “gold toned,” a process that does not use any actual gold. Gold filled involves a layer of gold that has been pressure-bonded permanently to another metal. Gold filled is not to be confused with gold plated, as the former literally represents 100 times or more of the gold used in plating. Gold filled is much more valuable and tarnish-resistant than gold plated; it does not flake, rub off or chip, nor turn colors. People with metal sensitivities who can wear gold can also wear gold-filled items. There are strict regulations governing the manufacturing process, e.g., mandating that gold must comprise at least 1/20 of the total weight of the item. Vermeil is sterling silver heavily plated with 14k, 18k or 22k gold. The gold may help keep the silver tarnish-resistant.
Pronounced cloy-zon-ay, cloisonne beads are made by skilled artisans and valued for their beauty and versatility. Each bead takes up to nine hours to produce, in a complex process involving the creation of “cloisons” or cells, into which ground enamel is applied with a small brush. Strips of filigree are then added and fused to the base before firing. Finally, the newly minted enamel bead is polished and gilded. The handcrafted nature of cloisonne means that size, shape and color may vary slightly.
Lampworked glass is the product of a process of glassmaking that was developed centuries ago in Italy. The name is derived from the gas torch, or “lamp,” by which the artisan heats colored glass rods to fluidity and, in the case of beadmaking, winds the molten glass around steel wire (mandrels). The subsequent removal of the mandrel leaves a hole through the bead, for stringing. Lampworking is a skill that takes a lot of practice to perfect. Each bead has to be made individually, and the artisan must understand the properties of glass, the ways colors combine within glass and when to add decorative elements (e.g., some lampworked beads have flowers or decorative bumps).
Simply put, foil-lined beads are lampworked beads with silver or gold foil embedded inside the bead for decoration.
Also known as Murano glass, Venetian glass traditionally is made on the Italian island of Murano, which neighbors Venice. Venetian glass making is considered an art form of particular high quality and the product of closely guarded secret techniques. The glass is very smooth, elaborate, colorful and lovely. Venetian beads are in great demand and often imitated since they are relatively expensive to make. I use a lot of genuine Venetian beads in my jewelry, and hope to go back to Venice soon to choose more!
A natural pearl is formed when a small irritant or parasite penetrates and lodges in the mantle tissue of a mollusk. In response, the “invaded” tissue secretes a protective substance called nacre, a combination of crystalline and organic substances that builds and eventually after a few years develops into a pearl. Natural pearls are rare and require serious persistence to find. A cultured pearl results from the process by which a pearl farmer induces pearl formation by inserting an irritant into the mollusk and then “cultivating” the pearl. Cultured pearls are real pearls that were not formed by accident of nature. Most pearls sold today are cultured. Note: Edible oysters do not produce nacre and thus do not produce pearls, so there’s no need to put them through an MRI before eating. Freshwater pearls come from oysters that mature in non-saline water (from lakes or ponds, as opposed to saltwater from the sea). Freshwater pearls usually are not as round as saltwater pearls and therefore less expensive. However, the past two decades have seen a huge increase in their quality for a number of reasons, but mostly because in the mid-1990’s the pearl-farming industry changed the type of mussels they used and lowered the number of grafts inserted in the mussel, and thereby the number of pearls produced. Freshwater pearls today are a favorite of jewelry designers because of their lower cost and improved quality and availability. Shell Pearls are made from the inner lining of oyster shells, also known as Mother of Pearl. The substance is ground to a fine powder, shaped, dyed and coated with natural pearl nacre and then a protective coating to give it lustre. Shell pearls, like most everything, vary in quality but may be quite beautiful and much less expensive than saltwater pearls. In addition, the industry’s strict quality control ensures shell pearls will keep their color and shine and will not be affected by sweat and perfume. Indeed, they are more durable than cultured and freshwater pearls.
Swarovski pearls have a leaded crystal core with an iridescent, lustrous coating. Each pearl has the same consistency, uniformity and flawless finish. They have the same weight as a cultured pearl and are a favorite with brides because of their luminosity, elegance and beauty.
In general, it is necessary to take reasonable care of all jewelry to retain its beauty and value. Jewelry gets dirty and dull from everyday wear, cosmetics, perspiration, natural skin oils and the environment.
Do not wear jewelry in a chlorine swimming pool or expose it to any harsh chemicals that may dull stones and plating. Chlorine and hot tubs are jewelry’s enemy!
Apply cosmetics, hair sprays and perfume before putting on jewelry. Your jewelry is the last thing you should put on when dressing. When you remove it, wipe carefully with a soft cloth to remove any traces of contaminants.
Most jewelry can be cleaned using warm water and mild dish detergent, rinsing carefully and buffing with a lint-free cloth. Your jewelry will look like new again with just a little bit of care and common sense.
Do not clean your jewelry in the kitchen sink or bathroom sink it is very easy to drop a soapy, small piece of jewelry down the drain.
Under no circumstances should pearls and other soft, opaque stones (opals, turquoise, etc.) be cleaned with commercial jewelry cleaners, sonic cleaners or chemicals. This includes Swarovski pearls.
Pearls may be carefully wiped with a soft cloth or gently cleaned by using a mild detergent, rinsing and buffing gently. Do not soak pearl strands in water, as the silk thread may stretch or weaken.
It is best to keep pearls and other soft stones separate from other jewelry and in a soft pouch so that they don’t get scratched.
Remember that Swarovski is crystal glass. That means that it should be cleaned occasionally to keep its brilliance. Swarovski recommends that, from time to time, you should carefully and gently polish each piece with a soft lint-free cloth. Or you may wash your jewelry using warm water, a mild dish detergent and a soft-bristled brush. Rinse thoroughly with clean warm water to remove detergent residue prior to drying. Make sure your jewelry is dry before wearing or putting it away. Swarovski jewelry containing pearls should not be exposed to water. Clean these pieces by buffing with a soft cloth.
Lay cultured pearl strands flat to dry. Hanging a strand might stretch the threads. Always read labels and care instructions for jewelry and jewelry cleaners!