Renewed Metal: Gold over Silver
Gold is the metal of choice for most wedding rings. It has a warmth and never tarnishes. Of all metals, gold, the element, AU, is the most malleable which makes it easy to work with. Human beings have for millennium, been obsessed with gold. For the ancients, gold represented the generous radiance of the sun and was associated with royalty. The alchemist's conversion of lead to gold was taken as metaphor for spiritual development. Gold represents a divine perfection.
Because a set of wedding rings can result in up to twenty tons of toxic sludge, all artisans on this website use only 100% recycled gold. Gold mining is perhaps one of the most ecologically destructive activities on earth. It has been tied to human rights abuse, displacement of people and massive pollution. In large scale mines, cyanide leaches gold from ore. Small scale miners use mercury, which is relatively inexpensive. Pollution from both mercury and cyanide is widespread in the environment and communities throughout the world. Reflective Images, the parent company of fairjewelry.org, was the first company in the jewelry sector to convert their domestic and international gold supply chain to 100% recycled. Reflective Images has also signed on to the no dirty gold campaign.
Gold used in jewelry fabrication is mixed with other metals to give it greater durability and hardness. The letter, "K" is used to indicated the actual the Karatage of gold, which is measured in 24ths. 24 karat = 100% pure gold. Too malleable and soft for jewelry. 22 karat = 91.7% gold. Not recommended for jewelry that is worn every day. 18 karat = 75% gold. Considered "fine" jewelry. Suitable for rings, depending upon your life style. 14 karat = 58.3% gold; suitable for all jewelry. The actual shadow of gold is determined by the alloys that are mixed with the gold.
Many jewelry companies recommend 18k white gold mainly because any 18k ring costs much more than a 14k ring. To solve the slight yellow tint, the 18k gold is coated with rhodium, a white metal, which eventually needs to be re-plated. Our recommendation is that if you wish to go with white gold, go with 14K, which has more alloy and therefore is "whiter." It is also less expensive and more durable. A 14k white gold ring is almost as white as a platinum ring. Our standard white gold is alloyed with nickel. However, upon request, we can alloy with palladium which is slightly more expensive. We can also make rings entirely out of palladium.
Yellow gold is alloyed with copper and silver. Rings made with 18K yellow gold have a particularly rich, vibrant color.
Rose gold is created by utilizing copper as an alloy.
14 or 18 Karat?
We want your wedding and engagement ring to last your lifetime. Whether to choose 14k or 18k depends upon your life style. Greater than any material or "status" value of the ring is the symbolic commitment that it represents. If you work in a field that involves the rough use of your hands, we recommend going with a 14k gold ring. These rings have more alloy and are much stronger and more durable. The 14k rings are handsome and a better choice if you are on a budget. The 18K yellow gold rings have wonderful richness and luster. The craftsmanship in all of our rings is the same, regardless of the metal chosen.
Gold rings can be cleaned using soap, water and an old tooth bush. A simple polishing cloth from a jeweler can bring the gold up to a fine luster. Harsh chemicals should be avoided. If your ring is antiqued, do not clean with bleaching agents.
Rings by Katherine Aberle and Michelangelo can be made with 14k or 18k white, rose or yellow gold. Many of Helen Chantlers' rings are made with 14K and 18K yellow gold.
Silver has an ancient association with the moon and its lunar influence. It has a cool, receptive quality that is tied to creativity and intelligence. Silver, with the periodic table letters Ag, is the 47th element. Here is some information that will help you to understand more about silver wedding rings, which we make with the same exquisite care as our gold and platinum rings.
Silver is often a byproduct of gold mining. Like gold, the mining of silver results in massive environmental damage and displacement of communities. We use only recycled silver to produce our wedding rings. Beyond what we show on this website, Helen's company, Reflective Images, was perhaps the first company in the jewelry sector to manufacturing both within the US and internationally with 100% recycled sterling silver.
Fine silver, also known as "pure silver" is too malleable and soft for jewelry. Our recycled silver is mixed with 7.5% copper to create "sterling silver." Sterling silver is 92.5% fine silver. The addition of copper, which most agree is the best metal improve silver's hardness, does not change silver's desirable color and does little to diminish silver's value. Most of the value in a silver piece of jewelry is in the labor involved to craft intricate patterns and motifs. Sterling silver pieces are generally stamped with a "quality" or "fineness" insignia on the back side of a piece, such as: .925 Ster Sterling Sterling silver Care Silver will last for generations of properly cared for. It is best to store your silver pieces in a pouch or a box to protect it from scratching. Also, consider removing your silver when using bleach, ammonia or if you swim often in a chlorinated pool. Harsh chemicals can damage silver and remove any oxidation elements which may be an essential part of a particular design.
Sulfur and hydrogen sulfide in ambient air will reacting to silver and result in a natural dulling. To prevent tarnish from building up, clean your silver regularly with a polishing cloth. Tarnish is much easier to remove when it is first apparent. If your piece is antiqued, then do not use the "silver cleaners." Liquid solutions take out oxidation. Instead, use a polishing cloth to keep your piece shiny and sparkling.