Monthly Archives: September 2011
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Yesterday I visited the annual International Jewellery London (trade fair) at Earls Court. This was my first visit to this event and if asked to sum it up I would describe it as a jewellery-lover’s paradise. I was blown away by the sheer choice and gorgeousness of all the jewellery, as well as the creativity of the designers exhibiting there.
There were 560 exhibitors from all over the world and they offered the whole spectrum of jewellery-related items : loose diamonds and precious gems; loose beads, all types of jewellery making materials and supplies; well-known top designers with their latest collections; new talent with their showpieces; exquisite diamond, gold, silver, pearl and gemstone jewellery, as well as costume jewellery in the most stunning, innovative and original designs. There were also catwalk models showing off the latest trends, and thought-provoking seminars, but my real focus was on potential suppliers.
There were various stands offering classic brand watches and other giftware, and some rather intriguing and very expensive-looking statues and other pieces from Russia made from silver, onyx and marble. Everything on display at the fair exuded craftsmanship and quality, and I have to admit that I felt a bit like a sugar-addict in a sweetshop when I first walked in, not knowing where to begin, there was so much of interest, I wondered if a day would be long enough.
As I walked round, there was a myriad of dazzling jewels that caught my eye and I couldn’t help gazing in wonderment at the glitzy crystals and blingy objects of desire. There were lots of those shambolla (friendship) bracelets in evidence which are very popular right now and which I intend to trial in my online shop very shortly.
If you had thousands of pounds to spend, you could easily spend them in half an hour but I was trying very hard to resist being carried away by the urge to try out lots of different types of jewellery on my online store, so I tended to stick to what I know : silver and gemstones.
I eventually succumbed to ordering a collection of silver heart pendants and lockets for my new “hearts” collection. I was also drawn towards the Indian sellers with their silver and gemstone pendants and rings, which they price by the weight. I was very attracted to the real opals from the Australian Opal Mines and although the larger specimens were beyond my price range, I did indulge in buying three small opal pendants.
I had an interesting conversation with one of the Indian sellers. He had two baskets on the table containing rings and pendants in each. At first glance they looked pretty much the same, gemstones set in silver. However, he explained that one contained gemstones mounted on metal that had been silver plated, and the other basket contained gemstones set in 925 silver. On closer inspection I could easily discern which was which – but I wondered if other people would be able to. The difference in price was significant. The 925 silver was almost four times the price of the other. The quality of stones – which were all real – was the same.
He said he was there to promote the less expensive range, and encourage buyers to switch to the silver plated versions instead of real silver due to the high price of silver on the global markets which was harming the silver jewellery industry in the recession. I asked about how long the plating would last before it wore off. He said it was such good quality it would never wear off (but then he would say that wouldn’t he?)
In the end, I bought one item of each to test if people can actually tell the difference by sight. So far, out of the 8 people I have quizzed, none of them have been able to discern the real silver from the silver plate correctly – they always seem to get it the wrong way round. On the other hand, they usually manage to make a reasonable guess at the price of the silver item and get the price differential about right. (Do you think YOU would be able to tell the difference?)
I am personally trying out a number of silver plated items at the moment to see how well the plating lasts – a bracelet, ring and neck chain – so far they all look as good as new but it’s only been 3 months!I don’t think there is any substitute for buying one’s own products and trying things out from a customer’s point of view. I would never ask a customer to accept quality that I wouldn’t be happy with myself.
I wondered if offering a guarantee on silver plated goods would reassure customers that silver plated items can look good for a long time or for as long as they want to wear the item. Do you think it would encourage people to buy silver plated jewellery? If anyone has any views on this, please respond.
Of the designers that really caught my attention I would have to say I was struck by the simple quality of the Lola Rose semi-precious gemstone collection; by contrast, Michael Negrin had some very pretty but complex pieces (though some people might find that kind of style a bit “twee”); I also liked Martick Jewellery who produce unique, collectable designs. I collected many business cards for future reference and came away with bags of ideas for future collections I would like to feature on my website – and very tired feet. All in all it was a successful and very enjoyable day and I just wish it happened more than once a year!
The use of silver for jewellery is becoming increasingly more fashionable and more popular all the time. Although it is still a precious metal and its value is increasing, it is much more affordable than gold, which has reached record prices in the global markets this year. Wearing too much gold can look vulgar whereas wearing various silver pieces at the same time can look rather classy and stylish without being brash.
One of the drawbacks of silver though is its tendency to tarnish quickly, so you need to look after your silver pieces carefully and if you do, they will serve you well and remain looking good for many years to come.
Why does silver tarnish?
Firstly, it’s important to note that tarnishing is caused by a natural process called oxidation and it does not indicate that the silver content is below standard or “not real silver”, or that the article is in any way inferior. Oxidation is the interaction between oxygen molecules and all the different substances they may come into contact with – substances in the air or other materials such as wood, rubber or even foods containing natural sulphides (eggs, onions) can turn silver to yellow or black.
Some people have skin that is more acidic than others, and that alone can cause sterling silver to tarnish almost immediately. Those people are best advised to look for silver items that have been plated with rhodium, gold or an anti-tarnish coating on top of the silver.
What’s the best way to care for 925 silver jewellery?
Both silver and silver plated jewellery need a certain amount of care to preserve their longevity and keep them looking their best.
1) Commonsense dictates that you should always remove your jewellery before washing up or swimming, and at night before bed. Always keep jewellery away from sunlight, radiators and other heat sources.
2) Make it a habit to always apply your makeup and perfume before putting on your jewellery and allow it to dry on your skin first. Cosmetics and perfume contain acids which can have a detrimental effect on silver and cause it to tarnish faster.
3) Keep your silver jewellery separate from your other pieces. Never heap all your jewellery in one box that allows your silver items to nudge alongside gemstone items which can easily scratch the surface of the silver. It is a good idea to store each piece in its own little pouch or jewellery back, or wrap it in cotton cloth.
4) Always remove your jewellery after use and wipe it over with a soft pure cotton cloth to remove any skin oil or cosmetic residue.
What’s the best way to clean 925 silver jewellery?
If you feel your jewellery needs a bit of “sprucing up” simply washing it with a mild detergent will often do the trick. If you do this fairly often, it can prevent or delay the build up of tarnish.
1) Use a polythene washing up bowl filled with warm water and a drop or two of mild (phosphate free) washing up liquid and create a lather with your hand.
2) Immerse your jewellery in the water for no more than 5 minutes.
3) Remove each piece one at a time and wipe with a soft sponge to remove any traces of grime, and place on a soft towel. Use a soft bristled brush to gently loosen any dirt trapped in crevices.
4) Rinse each piece separately in cold water and dry with a soft pure cotton cloth before storing away carefully.
How to remove tarnish and polish silver jewellery
A lot of people use silver dips to remove tarnish. They do work – the difference between before and after can be amazing – but the danger is that if you leave the jewellery in the chemical for too long, it can strip off the silver. You need to be extremely careful if you use it with silver plated jewellery as it may strip off the plating altogether.
If you trawl the internet for advice you will find all sorts of suggestions, often conflicting, on how to deal with tarnished silver items. Many suggest the use of baking soda or toothpaste, both of which are mildly abrasive and may cause scratching of the silver surface.
Washing your jewellery (as described above) after each wearing will probably prevent it from tarnishing, but if the item does become discoloured or badly tarnished, use a silver polish or silver polishing cloth specially designed for the purpose. Please be sure to follow the instructions carefully.
I found a silver torque bangle today in my jewellery drawer that I hadn’t worn for years. It was so badly tarnished it was black! I recently bought a “Town Talk” silver polishing cloth on Ebay for £1.25 and the packet contained two sachets of moist tissues. I rubbed the tissue over the bangle for about three minutes, and then used the polishing cloth, and the bangle was gleaming like new in no time at all.
Make sure you only buy products designed for jewellery, not cutlery.
Silver plated jewellery
Silver plated jewellery can be cared for in exactly the same way as for 925 silver, so follow the above advice but be extra careful if using silver dip, or silver polish, as overpolishing and removing tarnish can also remove much of the plating over time.
Avoid scrubbing plated jewellery. It is important to keep the plating on the base metal for as long as possible, as once it has worn off the only remedy is re-plating or stop wearing it altogether. Base metals can react with natural skin oils and cause the skin to turn a greenish hue.
Store silver plated jewellery in anti-tarnish cloth jewellery bags, and make sure they are in a low humidity environment.
Now that you understand all about caring for silver and how easy it is, why not indulge in some silver jewellery from http://www.caravelajewellery.com ?