Part III Silver Filled, and Silver-plated Jewelry
Although “silver filled” jewelry remains fairly uncommon, it does exist. The process uses the same technique used for gold filled jewelry: multiple layers of real silver (50-100 times the amount of plated) are heat pressured onto the base metal that has copper already attached. The resulting metal retains the silver longer than plating, extending the wear of the jewelry.
The quality of the base metal, amount of copper attached, the quality and number of times of silver plating, and whether a protective finish has been added, all determine the look and longevity of silver-plated jewelry. Silver plated jewelry may be marked “silver plated,” or have no mark at all. John Mederios jewelry, uses a premium base metal, plated in copper, plated in silver, and then plated in rhodium. Rhodium, a derivative of platinum, creates a tarnish free finish. Rhodium is too brittle as a solid metal, but works extremely well in plating, preventing tarnish, while increasing luster.
Brighton jewelry uses the same steps as John Mederios, except Brighton uses an acrylic clear coat instead of rhodium plating. The Brighton jewelry finish doesn’t have as long of a life, but it also doesn’t cost as much. Costume jewelry may be plated, but often doesn’t have multiple plating, nor is it treated to prevent tarnishing. Only use a silver cleaner on fine silver or sterling. The finish of other silver jewelry can be damaged by silver cleaner. Instead, use gentle soap and water, or a damp cloth to clean.
Next week’s column—pearls.
Nancy Pride owns Morgan Fitzgerald’s and Merle Norman located at 3800 South Texas Avenue, Bryan, one mile north of University Drive.