Saturday, October 27, 2012

“what’s New”

Welcome to “what’s New” on EtsyMetal.
Here I am again to show you the new jewelry collection from our team members on Etsy site.
We on EtsyMetal team set our mission to support each other as independent artists and Etsy as a platform for selling quality handmade goods.
The EtsyMetal mark is your assurance of hand made craftsmanship, quality, and that the artist follows ethical trade practices.

lsueszabo                                                  aroluna

Lilia Nash JEwelry                               Laura jane Bouton

Cynthia Del Giudice                            Quercus Silver

Mark Kaplan                                           2Roses

Reagan Hayhurst                                 Victoria Takahashi/Experimetal

SCJ Jewelry Design                             silentgoddess

metalluxe                                                e5jewelry

 betsybensen                                          daniellejewelry

Be here on next Saturday for much more jewelry !
Subscribe to our blog for reminders.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Metal Education: Sterling Silver - Part 1

Welcome to the second blog post in our Metal Education series. After explaining some metal terminology in our last post, we now explore specific metals. We’ll start with one of the most versatile alloys of a precious metal: Sterling silver. The sterling silver article will be posted in two installments. Part 1 covers issues for the consumer, including basics of the alloy, history, and uses. Part 2 will be for the metalsmiths in the readership: working properties, techniques, and equipment.

Sterling silver ring with oxidized circles, Orbit by hartleystudio

About the metal

Sterling silver is an alloy made of at least 92.5 % pure silver and 7.5% other metals, most often copper. Some sterling silver alloys contain low percentages of other metals like germanium, zinc, palladium or platinum to increase strength, to reduce tarnish and firescale, or for better casting properties. As long as the resulting metal alloy contains 92.5% silver, it is still referred to as sterling silver, or simply sterling. Sterling silver jewelry is traditionally marked with a 925 stamp. The number stands for the 925 parts silver per 1000 parts of total metal alloy. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), “it is unfair or deceptive to mark, describe, or otherwise represent all or part of an industry product as silver, solid silver, sterling silver, sterling, or the abbreviation ster. unless it is at least 925/1,000ths pure silver.”

Anticlastic spiral hoop earrings - Bright silver by Revonav

Pure or fine silver is alloyed with copper for strength because fine silver alone is too soft for many applications. The Vickers Hardness of sterling silver is approximately 75 HV, while fine silver has a value of only 35 HV. For comparison, 14k white gold has a hardness of 125 to 165 HV depending on the alloy. Palladium (950TruPD) has a hardness of 115HV and platinum alloys range from 115 to 170 HV. So, although sterling silver is much harder than fine silver, it is still soft compared to other precious metals.

As of October 2012 the price for silver varies from 30 to 35 USD per ounce. This price is about 150 times more expensive than copper, and about 50 times less expensive than gold or platinum.

Spiny Oyster Statement Ring by MicheleGradyDesigns


Sterling is an old alloy and its true origin is uncertain. It was adopted as a standard alloy during the 12th century when Henry II imported the alloy from a region of Germany called Easterling. By the 13th Century, currency made from this alloy was known as Easterling silver. Other references say that the term sterling is a derivation from the old French “esterlin,” which meant “little star,” in reference to stars found on Norman coins of the 11th century. Although silver has been used since ancient times for jewelry and decoration, the biggest use for sterling silver alloys was coinage until Victorian times.

Sterling Silver Stud Earrings - Spoonies by Kathryn Riechert

By the 18th century, sterling silver flatware and serveware became popular to serve the elaborate multi-course meals that were de rigeur in Victorian times. The apogee of sterling silverware was between 1840 and 1920. After the Second World War, sterling silver flatware fell out of favor due to rising labor costs and a move toward more practical dining customs.

Uses for Sterling Silver

Sterling silver is a great metal choice for many applications, including jewelry, vessels, bowls and utensils, and small sculptures. Although silver is the least expensive noble metal, the price is still prohibitive for larger sculptures.

April showers... lilliputian size by ArtigianoJewelBox

Sterling silver is the whitest of all the precious metal alloys. Other white metals like white gold, palladium and platinum have a yellow or gray tone. Silver can be buffed to a more brilliant shine than any other metal, or can take a satin, matte, brushed, sandblasted, oxidized (chemically blackened), textured or antiqued finish.
We’ll discuss a few uses for sterling silver in its most popular modern application, jewelry.

Necklaces, pendants, brooches, and earrings

Sterling silver is a perfect choice for jewelry that doesn’t get banged around much, like earrings, necklaces, pendants, and brooches. Sterling silver is lighter than gold, palladium or platinum, making it a great metal for earrings.

Seaweed Branch Earrings, Tourmaline by iacua

Hoops and ear wires need to be heat-treated or work-hardened to hold their shape. For people that are sensitive to sterling silver in their piercings, ear wires or posts can be made out of gold or platinum, which may help with metal allergies.

Vintage Button Citrine Floral Pendant - Sterling Silver Handmade by AdobeSol

Check out earrings, necklaces, pendants and brooches made by our wonderful Etsymetal jewelers.

Rings and bracelets

Sterling silver is a great choice for fashionable designer and cocktail rings, bracelets, and casual jewelry. However, because it is soft, some care should be taken when choosing sterling silver jewelry that will take a lot of abuse, especially rings and bracelets.

Branch Cuff Bracelet in Sterling Silver and Rose Cut Garnets - Ember and Frost Collection by shirleegrund

Browse sterling silver rings or bracelets from Etsymetal Artists.

Although the metal is lovely and the price is right, sterling silver is not the best choice for engagement or wedding rings that need to hold up to years of daily wear and tear. Silver bands can bend out of shape and the surface can scratch deeply. Thin areas and fine details will wear completely away with time. If you still prefer a silver wedding band for its look or its price point, be sure to choose a fairly heavy band with sturdy construction and no delicate features. Avoid thin wire-like bands, very delicate detail, and filigree. Note also that any patina on sterling silver will wear away with time, except in the crevices that are protected from the constant buffing action of daily activities.

Sterling Silver Wedding Ring Set with White Topaz by JenLawlerDesigns

Commercial sterling silver bands are sometimes plated with rhodium to protect the shine and prevent tarnishing – but the rhodium will wear off with time showing unsightly patches where it wore off. It will eventually need to be replated, which can be costly. In addition, rhodium plating requires adding a layer of nickel first, which causes allergies in many people once it gets exposed to the skin. Plating will make any repair work a lot harder as the plating will need to be removed and then redone after the repair is complete. Unless one really hates removing tarnish and does not plan to wear their jewelry much, it is recommended to just leave sterling silver in its natural un-plated state. For quality affordable wedding bands, the best silver bands are made with sterling silver without rhodium plating.

Check out these beautiful wedding rings and engagement rings made by Etsymetal team members.

Sterling Silver and Gemstones

Sterling silver can be used in many ways to set precious and semi-precious gemstones in jewelry, and its bright white color looks great with most gemstones. However, the style of setting and type of gems to be set in sterling silver should be considered carefully. Sterling is especially suited for bezel setting and other sturdy types of settings.

In Between - Birdeye Rhyolite and sterling silver Pendant by VirginieMartinStudio
Special care should be taken with delicate prong set gemstones. Silver prongs can easily bent and the stones lost. Because of the potential for loss, sterling silver is not a great metal for very expensive stones like sapphires, rubies, emeralds and diamonds. Large diamonds, being the hardest material on earth, can over time cut the metal away in the setting and become loose. A great cost effective alternative is to set the precious gemstone in a white or yellow gold setting soldered onto a sterling silver band. 

Sterling Silver Garnet Ring, Rhyolite Garnet,Trillion Cut, Stacking Rings, 18kt Gold by betsybensen

Small diamonds and precious gemstones may be ok when set in sturdy sterling silver settings.

Diamond Ring in Sterling Silver by LiliaNashJewelry

Tarnish and patinas

Fine silver, being a noble metal, does not react with oxygen or water. But it does react with airborne pollutants such as sulfur to form a black tarnish on its surface. Sterling silver tarnishes faster since it contains the base metal copper, which reacts easily with oxygen. Since tarnish is just a thin oxide layer on the surface of the metal, wearing your jewelry frequently is enough to keep it buffed and shiny. If you do get tarnish, polish with a soft jewelry polishing cloth or dipping solution. Avoid harsh abrasive techniques, such as using toothpaste, as this can leave fine scratches on the metal surface and damage gemstones. Because tarnish is caused by oxygen and pollutants in the air, the best way to avoid it is to store your jewelry in an air tight container (like a Ziploc bag) when you’re not wearing it.

See this great tip for tarnish removal if your jewelry does not contain gemstones, enamels or patinas.

Sterling Silver Pinecone Petal Necklace by rubygirl

Some jewelry pieces are pre-oxidized to give them an antique look or to highlight textures on the metal. This patina will age over time, making it a truly unique piece. Don’t use any tarnish removal dips on those jewelry pieces, as it will destroy the intentional oxidation.


It is fairly easy to resize a ring or other sterling silver piece if there is no gemstone set. Sterling silver rings with gemstones are difficult to resize, since silver conducts heat very well. The heat from soldering will be transferred directly to the gem, which can destroy it. The gem must either be removed, or it must be protected in place while soldering. Both approaches can work, but involve the risk of damage to the gemstone or the setting. Patinas, enamels, and special textures may also be damaged during resizing.


Any metal can cause an allergic reaction, though some metals are less allergenic than others. Sterling silver allergies are rare, but they do occur. If you experience a rash under your jewelry, remove the jewelry, clean it well and let the skin heal up. Soaps, lotions, or dirt trapped under the jewelry are a primary cause of jewelry-related dermatitis, so keeping your jewelry clean is key. In addition, “many individuals who believe that they are allergic to silver (or gold) are actually allergic to another metal in the silver alloy used to make their jewelry -- nickel.” (2) Most sterling silver does not contain nickel, but rhodium-plated silver jewelry often has a layer of nickel under the rhodium. Once the plating wears off, nickel gets exposed to the skin and causes allergic reactions. Many people who believe they are sensitive to sterling actually have silver plated jewelry or low-grade silver alloys (Nepali silver, for example), and may experience a reaction to any number of metals in this jewelry. In .925 sterling silver, copper or trace amounts of nickel may be suspected as the allergen. Finally, though silver itself is very hypoallergenic, allergies can occur, and if you are sensitive, you may need to stick with another metal.

bhuj flexibangle bracelet sterling silver by Markaplan


To conclude the pro's and con's of Sterling silver:

  • least expensive precious metal alloy
  • whitest metal alloy
  • most beautiful luster and high polish
  • light weight
  • easy to oxidize for a high contrast or antique look

  • very soft metal, scratches and bends easily
  • not a great choice for engagement or wedding rings in terms of durability
  • tarnishes easily
  • harder to resize rings than gold alloys

Feel free to browse the wonderful sterling silver creations from our Etsymetal Artists.

Stayed tuned for Sterling Silver – Part 2 coming up soon.

Thanks to Virginie Martin and Mary Anne Karren for researching, fact checking and editing.

You can see all posts from our our Metal Education Series here.

Sources :

1. Accounts and Papers of the House of Commons: 1866. Second. House of Commons. 23 March 1866. pp. 14–15. OCLC 11900114


Knaught, Percy, La découverte du Métal , Les Éditions TIME LIFE, 1974.

McCreight, Tim, Complete Metalsmith, Davis Editions, 2004.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fall Favorites Part Two

 We are back with more Fall favorites from Etsy Metal members as promised, including those recipes for Spicy Pumpkin Soup and Home Baked Quince! Enjoy!

My favorite fall activity is making and eating roasted pumpkin seeds.

Lively Hood
Fall is easily my favorite time of the year. Bountiful harvest, fallen leaves, and eminent transitions.

Autumn is definitely my favorite season, I love the colors, the smells and the countdown to Christmas begins.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup  
courtesy Mary Anne Kerren and adapted from Simply Recipes

4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Pinch ground cayenne pepper
1 roasted small sugar pumpkin or 2-3 (15 oz) cans 100% pumpkin puree*
5 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
2 TBSP brown sugar or to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream

*To roast the pumpkin, cut a sugar pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff, lie face down on a tin-foil lined baking pan. Bake at 350°F until soft, about an hour. Cool, scoop out the flesh. Freeze whatever you don't use for future use.

1. Melt butter in the soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add spices and stir for a minute more.
2. Add pumpkin and broth; blend well. Bring to a boil and reduce heat, simmer for 10 to 15 minutes (longer is fine).
3. Blend soup in using blender, food processor, or immersion blender until smooth. Return soup to saucepan.
4. With the soup on low heat, add brown sugar and mix. Add cream. If a little too spicy, add more cream to cool it down. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
5. Sprinkle the top of each serving with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Delicious autumn!  My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.  ~George Eliot

Fall is hunting season. Even if my father didn't hunt my aunts were "singles" during this season and I remember that it was the time where all the women and little girls in the family would get together for week-ends. Girly stuff. It was great.

I was born and raised in Minnesota- fall is by far my favorite and most missed season! I always associate a certain light quality with fall that is clumsy to express in language. Strangely enough, now that I live in the subtropics, I associate fall with digging in the dirt and planting- the start of the growing season and a reprieve from the angry sun! 

Home Baked Quince 
courtesy artigiano 

2 pounds quince, peeled, cored and sliced
5 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
3 tablespoons water
300° oven.  In a rectangular baking dish, overlap the sliced fruit, drizzle with honey, lime juice and water.  Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove foil, raise heat to 425° and bake for 10 minutes, until liquid is thickened and fruit is golden.

Did somebody say Halloween? I finally finished a spider actually in time for the season.
And it being fall, I could actually refer to the spiders that start coming into the basement this time of year for real life reference as to where the legs go.


Erin Austin 
My favorite aspect of Fall is the changing of the leaves. I'm always stunned at the vibrant oranges and reds.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

“What’s New”

Happy Saturday !!!
Here I am again with new fabulous jewelry made by EtsyMetal members.
The EtsyMetal mark is your assurance of hand made craftsmanship, quality, and that the artist follows ethical trade practices.

lsueszabo                                                aroluna

Peculiar Forest                                     Mary Anne Karren

Laura Jane Bouton                               2Roses

SCJ Jewelry Design                             Amuckdesign

mark kaplan                                          Anne Walker Jewelry

VirginieMartinStudio                        victoria takahashi / experimetal

Quercus Silver                                       Lichen and Lychee

Cynthia Del Giudice                              Hartleystudio


I will be here next Saturday with much more new items.
Have a wonderful weekend !
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