Many of the charms I use in my theme name necklaces are culinary grade pewter (AKA Britannia pewter alloy – you can drink or eat off cutlery or cups made from this form of pewter). The charms have been FDA certified lead free. I love these charms: they are made in the USA and have an amazing, beautiful detail. Plus since they are an electroplated pewter they are a fraction of the cost of sterling silver cast charms. My pieces that contain sterling silver cast charms can be double the price simply because of supply price.
Even though these charms are pewter you can polish them much the same way as you would sterling silver or gold-filled items. This is because the charms are electroplated with pure silver (AKA .999 silver or fine silver) or 22kt gold plate. The silver charms can be polished with a polishing cloth or liquid cleaner but it is not recommended that you bench polish them, or use abrasive paste polishes as vigorous friction may “burn off” the electroplated layer. The gold charms will not tarnish. You can shine them up with a soft cloth to remove dirt and oils when needed.
Don’t let the fact that these charms are electroplated turn you off. Unlike ordinary plated items that we are all accustomed to, electroplating leaves a thicker and more durable surface area. Regular wear and tear will not harm these charms. You will also find the pure silver tarnish to be more subtle than sterling silver. From my experience it will start to cast a pinkish hue. It is easily removed with a jeweler’s cloth, which is my recommended product for cleaning this type of jewelry, although a mild liquid dip cleaner works as well.
For more information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
More info on this popular material commonly used in handmade jewelry
Update: since writing this post originally, I am finding I’m selling more gold-filled necklaces these days. In fact, it is out-pacing sterling silver in some of my offerings. This is only good news: that more and more people are truly understanding what gold-filled is, and the benefit of purchasing jewelry pieces constructed with this material. With inflation soaring, I suspect gold-filled will continue to increase in popularity.
I’ve been using gold-filled components for many years now, and I don’t find it to be as popular as sterling silver for my products. I think the reason is many people don’t know or understand what gold-filled is, and why it is priced higher than sterling silver.
Not to be mistaken for gold-plated
So just what is gold-filled? The easiest way to describe it, is layers of brass and gold sandwiched together. These layers are bonded (clad) together with extreme heat and pressure. There is two or three layers within this sandwich. The result is a very durable product that has all the benefits of karat gold without the hefty price tag. The top gold layer does not chip or flake like gold plated items which has a minuscule amount of gold covering. Gold-filled is very popular with jewelry makers like me because it is affordable and easy to obtain. You can expect gold-filled to not tarnish just like a gold wedding band.
Legally gold-filled must contain 5% – or 1/20 gold by weight. If you compare with a gold plated item – which has 0.05% or less gold in the plating – you clearly see the value: 5% vs. 0.05%. Gold-filled products can be purchased in 10 karat, 12 karat or 14 karat gold. I purchase 14kt gold-filled disks and chain for my engraving. You will often see it listed in the industry as 14/20 gold-filled. I put 14kt gold-filled in my listings as karats are more recognizable to the general public.
I have had requests for “pure” gold items, and this may still be an option in the future. I priced one of my necklaces out with 14kt gold components, and the supply price alone was approaching $100 CAD. That is a steep investment for little ol’me. 🙂 It is not out of the question, just out of my reach currently.