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How to choose jewelry materials correctly is the key

by mittag jewelry

Everyone likes to adorn themselves with beautiful accessories that convey their unique personality and style. But when buying accessories, are you also overwhelmed with the variety of materials... I understand, because I was so confused before entering this industry, and sometimes I bought accessories that accidently made me allergic, or bought accessories that surface finish was one thing, but its substrate was another metal which I had no idea at all. Therefore, this article is based on my sad experiences (and lots of money spent). After reading it, it is recommended that you review your jewelry box and inspect them again.

Generally speaking, the metal materials of jewelry are about the following: gold, silver, copper, alloys (commonly seen lead-copper alloys, nickel-brass alloys, lead-tin alloys, zinc alloys, etc.), and then followings are according to these metals to explain.

Pure gold is soft and yellow, and K gold can better meet market demand

Gold is the most precious metal because its economic value has kept it high and enduring. The properties of gold are stable, not easy to be corroded, not easy to oxidize, so it is not easy to turn black (but on the other hand, because gold is too stable and not easy to combine with other elements, wearing gold is not more beneficial to the human body than wearing silver jewelry, because silver ions have a strong bactericidal effect, and also absorb the lead attached to the surface of the human body, so it is understandable that silver jewelry is popular). The disadvantage of gold is that it is too soft and easy to deform, and it is too yellow, feeling too wealthy and difficult to match with skin color and clothing, so K gold is derived, and its appearance improves the hardness and color at the same time. K gold is commonly found in 18K, 14K and 10K (24K is the highest content, 18K means 18/24 is gold). The lower the number of K gold, the lower the gold content, so the color will be less yellow and the hardness will be harder. For more in-depth understanding, you can read "Gold, K gold? Platinum, white gold? After reading it, I finally got it!"

Silver maintains its value, often wearing and cleaning are the keys

Next is silver, which is the most widely used in jewelry because it is the cheapest of the precious metals with value preservation (gold, platinum, palladium, rhodium...). Silver is not easy to be corroded, and the color matches well, but silver is not as stable as gold and platinum, so the disadvantage is that silver products will oxidize and turn black, so we need to know the correct cleaning and storage methods (but in fact, there are many customers who like silver in black). Silver is as soft as gold, and because of this, 925 silver (content of 92.5% silver and  7.5% of alloy) is almost always used in silver jewelry, which increases the hardness of silver and is suitable for jewelry. Worldwide defines 925 silver as sterling silver. But here I like to remind everyone that some people would buy very cheap silver in the jade market or when they travel abroad, which is called "Tibetan silver"; here we must remind everyone that Tibetan silver does not actually contain silver, they made of white copper and is a copper-nickel-zinc alloy with nickel as the main element. The color is silver-white. Although it has a silver appearance, it does not contain silver elements. Don't be misled next time~

Red copper is difficult to maintain, brass is like gold but easy to be allergic

Then there is copper. The most basic form of copper is red copper, but red copper oxidizes and turns black easily (faster than silver), and needs to be wiped and cleaned frequently, so easy sweating people are not suitable for wearing red copper. Bronze is a copper alloy in which tin, lead or aluminum is added to red copper. In ancient times, the color of bronze wares buried in the soil turned green gray due to oxidation, so it was named bronze. However, the most commonly used for copper jewelry is brass, it’s a copper alloy composed of copper, lead, zinc or nickel. Brass is cheap, so many people use brass for jewelry, and it is also popular because of its bright yellow color, which is very similar to gold. However, brass is unstable; it will form a black oxide layer if it is in contact with sweat and air for a long time. Another major disadvantage of brass is that if brass is worn close to the body, it may cause certain degree of allergy, because the elements such as lead and nickel in brass will stimulate the hair follicles then occur allergic phenomena such as rashes under the corrosion of sweat, which is why many people can only wear sterling silver or K gold jewelry to avoid allergy.

Alloys are cheap and harmful to the environment when discarding them

Finally, there is the alloy. As the name suggests, an "alloy" is a substance composed of two or more metals. Alloy jewelry is the use of relatively cheap metals (copper, tin, lead, aluminum, zinc or nickel) to synthesize metals with a similar appearance and color to precious metals through a certain formula and ratio. However, because alloy jewelry usually does not use too expensive metals, some heavy metal elements are actually poisonous. When purchasing, it is recommended to ask the salesperson more about the metal components contained in alloy jewelry. After all, jewelry is in contact with the skin for a long time, it may cause redness and allergies. If the salesperson is not clear about the metal components in the jewelry, it is recommended that you try to avoid buying alloy products, and try to choose sterling silver, K gold or gold and other no plating products to avoid allergies.

Let me explain more about the nickel that often appears in this article. What is it? Nickel is a hard silver-white metal. Nickel can be alloyed with other metals such as iron, copper, chromium and zinc, and these alloys are used to make coins and accessories. But the most common effect of nickel on humans is allergic reactions (about 20% of people are allergic to nickel). When jewelry or other items containing nickel are in direct contact with the skin for a period of time, people may be allergic. The most common reactions are a rash on the site of contact, or an asthma attack. Try to avoid buying jewelry that contains nickel, then you can eliminate the risk of exposure to nickel metal. Many cheap fast fashion accessories use nickel alloy as the base material, and plating a beautiful metal color then easily accepted by consumers. However, because nickel is relatively cheaper than gold and silver (the price is similar to tin), and the jewelry is small in size so has no recycling value. Usually, it is directly incinerated and buried after being eliminated. However, nickel and its compounds will generate volatile and highly toxic carcinogen nickel carbonyl (Ni(CO)4) during the incineration process; therefore, nickel is not friendly to the human body nor to the environment.

The more processing, the more problems, where does your money vote?

Now, it should not be difficult for you to find a very contradictory phenomenon, that is, jewelry that can be cheap and look like precious metals can best convince consumers to pay for it. A gold color electroplating layer is even more looking closer to luxury jewelry. However, behind the desire to be cheap and noble, it often requires cumbersome processing procedures to achieve, and finally the money is spent on each process. The contents hidden under the beautiful coat are often only made of industrial-grade materials, metal materials that even the merchants can't tell, and electroplating, which is sure to harm the environment. In addition, because these cheap accessories are obtained at a low price, it is certainly not a pity when they are abandoned. However, because they have too many processing procedures and are small in size, they do not have economic value for recycling, and ultimately they can only face the fate of direct disposal or incineration, which also causes environmental pollution again. Behind the cheapness, there is often a price that we cannot afford. Some things cost more than you realize, and every time we consume, it is like a vote that determines the future appearance of the earth; Think carefully before making consumption decisions, buy less but better things, small changes can lead to huge improvements.

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