Custom Personalized Jewelry, Made Just For You
Cart 0

Jewelry Metals 101

Here at Initial Obsession, we offer jewelry in a variety of precious metals - 14k gold, 10K gold, gold vermeil, gold plated and sterling silver. We would like to provide you with facts about your jewelry metals and proper care suggestions.

Facts about Gold

What is the difference between 10K, 12K, 14K, 18K, 22K and 24K Gold? There is a difference in purity, price, durability, color and even potential allergies. 24K gold is pure gold, but it too soft for jewelry. Therefore, alloys must be mixed in with the Gold in order to make it durable enough for everyday use. 12K Gold means 12 parts Gold and 14 parts alloy, while 14K means means 14 parts Gold and 10 parts alloy.

Regarding color ~ pure 24K gold is quite yellow. Therefore, the less pure the gold, the paler the color. 12K gold would therefore be a paler color yellow than 14K gold, although the color difference is very minimal.

Regarding price ~ the purer the gold, the higher the price.

Regarding potential allergies ~ allergies to gold are rare, but if you have an allergy to alloys, choosing 14K or 18K gold reduces the alloy content and potential for any allergic reaction to your jewelry.

Follow the same principals when making decisions about Gold Filled or Gold Vermeil jewelry. 

Facts about Sterling Silver

Our .925 Sterling Silver is made up of  92.5% silver, the remaining 7.5% percentage is made up of copper. Copper is added to silver to give it durability. The copper content is what causes silver to tarnish. Sterling silver will tarnish. This is not a defect but the result of a natural chemical process that occurs when sterling silver is exposed to chemicals in the air. Other common tarnish causing elements are wool, rubber bands and latex gloves. Humid environments will accelerate tarnishing as well.  Many of our designers offer a rhodium coating making the sterling silver more tarnish resistant. Sterling silver can always be easily cleaned and restored to its original luster.

A portion of our sterling silver offerings are Argentium sterling silver - a modern silver alloy which modifies the traditional alloy (92.5% silver + 7.5% copper) by replacing some of the copper with the metalloid germanium and is tarnish resistant.  We also offer sterling silver with a rhodium plate coating for extra tarnish resistance.

Caring for Sterling Silver Jewelry

The easiest way to keep your sterling silver looking great is preventative maintenance. Avoid exposing your sterling silver jewelry to harsh chemicals such as chlorine, cosmetics, hair spray, and perfume. Keep with non-tarnish paper or in sealed polyethylene/zip lock bags when not being worn. Washing your jewelry periodically with mild dish soap and warm water is a quick and easy way to prevent tarnishing. Be sure to rinse well and dry completely with a soft cloth before storing. Use of a polishing cloth, such as the Sunshine Polishing Cloth, makes cleaning your sterling quick and easy.
Frequent light polishing with one of these cloths will also help minimize tarnish. Tarnish is easily removed when first noticed (generally a yellowish tint) but will become more difficult to remove as it turns brown and eventually black-requiring professional cleaning and/or harsher chemicals that can harm the jewelry.

All of our Sterling Silver pieces are made out of the finest quality, market standard .925 silver. Please remember that buffing your personalized jewelry can cause your monogram to be damaged so light polishing around the monogram is always recommended. We recommend Sunshine Polishing Cloths for routine cleaning and buffing. Silver Dip can be used for an occasional deep clean. Care must be taken not to scratch your jewelry during cleaning. Should you incur scratch damage to your jewelry around your monogram, please consult a jeweler for repair. Please be aware that any oxidized (blackened) lettering cannot be exposed to silver dips ~ clean only with a dry polishing cloth as the oxidation will become damaged.

Caring For 14K Gold Filled Jewelry

We all know that gold is quite expensive, so in addition to our 14K Gold offerings, we offer an alternative that keeps a solid layer of 14K Gold in contact with your eyes and skin! 14 karat gold filled is the affordable solution. 14K Gold Filled Jewelry features a substantial 14K Gold layer permanently bonded over a core of base metal. It generally has a hundred times more gold than gold plated jewelry. Under normal wear with reasonable care, 14K Gold Filled jewelry will not peel, flake, or wear off and can be a treasured piece. It is tarnish resistant and, like 14K Gold, is safe for most people with sensitive skin unless an allergy exists. With proper care, 14K gold filled jewelry is a long lasting, economical way to enjoy the luster of gold without the big price tag. Gold Filled jewelry should not be worn in water (do not shower or swim with your jewelry on). Do not have gold filled jewelry machine polished or dipped in any cleaning agent. You may wipe it off with soapy water to clean, but it must be thoroughly dried and buffed with a soft cotton cloth.

Caring for Gold Vermeil and Gold Plated Jewelry

Gold Vermeil is produced by thickly coating Sterling Silver with 14K, 18K or 24K gold.  A base metal is not used as in some gold plated items.  To be considered vermeil, the coating must be at least 1.5 micrometers thick.  This layer is quite thick and will outwear a gold plated item.  You should avoid wearing gold vermeil jewelry in the bath, shower, or when swimming. Do not have gold vermeil jewelry machine polished or dipped in any cleaning agent, these processes can wear away at the gold layer. Use a soft, clean cloth to remove dirt, oils and other material from the jewelry. 

We also offer a collection of Gold Plated jewelry as well. These pieces offer the most attractive pricing and a thinner layering of gold over a base metal. Made by a top designer, these pieces are well made and meant to last with proper care. We suggest avoiding contact with lotions or perfumes and not wearing in water. Caring for gold plated jewelry is very similar to caring for gold vermeil or sterling silver. The only exception is you really have to be more careful when it comes to cleaning. We recommend you use a clean soft cloth when cleaning. At all times, avoid abrasive cleaning materials or chemicals with gold plated jewelry to avoid damaging or "removing" the gold plating. Personal allergies to base metals are not considered a product defect.  Our 24K gold plated jewelry is comprised of a .925 sterling silver base.  Our 12K gold plated jewelry is comprised of a brass base.