Thursday, October 30, 2014

What's the Percentage of Gold in 14k? 10k? 18k?

Gold purity is defined either in Karats or fineness.  One Karat is equal to 1/24th part of fine gold, so 24k Gold is pure gold.  So to find the percentage of gold in 10k gold, you would divide 10 by 24 (10/24) and multiply by 100 to get the percentage:

  • 10k = 10/24 or 10 ÷ 24 = .416 or 41.6% gold
  • 12k = 12/24 or 12 ÷ 24 = .500 or 50% gold
  • 14k = 14/24 or 14 ÷ 24 = .583 or 58.3% gold
  • 18k = 18/24 or 18 ÷ 24 = .750 or 75% gold  
  • 24k = 24/24 or 24 ÷ 24 = 1.00 or 100% gold

Most alloys mixed with gold are different percentages of copper and silver mixed with pure gold.  When more copper is used, the result is "rose gold" or "pink gold".  When less copper and more silver is used, the result is a very pale "green" gold or pale yellow gold.  When no copper is used with the silver and gold, the result is a brighter "green gold".   White gold today uses the alloy Palladium (rather than nickel) plus silver and copper with gold, which results in an allergy-free white gold.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Boulder Opal or Opal Doublet?

A shop on etsy is offering opal jewelry, calling the items "boulder opals".  But what are they really?

I can see just by looking at them that these necklaces are actually "opal doublets" and NOT boulder opals at all.  What's the difference between a boulder opal and an opal doublet?


An opal doublet is a man-made opal.  This is a very inexpensive method for creating beautiful opal jewelry!  This gives the look of very expensive Black Opal.  A tiny slice of opal (about 1mm) is glued to a dark backing.  This backing can be made of industrial glass, onyx, hard plastic, ironstone, or even "potch" (common opal, or opal that doesn't exhibit the fire of precious opal).

You can see an opal doublet by simply looking at the side.  There is an obvious black backing and a straight line where it meets the opal.  This can be difficult to see when the opal is set.

It's important to NOT get an opal doublet wet, since the layers can separate!


It is considered to be the second most valuable type of opal!  Ironstone boulders have thin veins of natural opal.  The stones are cut so the natural ironstone remains surrounding or backing these opal veins.  Ironstone is a dark brown stone, which makes the opal naturally darker and vivid.  Sometimes boulder opal is called a "natural doublet" since the ironstone is left behind the opal when cut for jewelry.  There is no adhesive involved in boulder opal!  Because the ironstone surrounds the opal naturally, it is much more durable than black opals.

If Boulder opals are cut to remove the opal for jewelry, they are always cut in irregular shapes, due to their natural veins within the ironstone.  They are never oval-shaped, except when the ironstone is left surrounding the opal (as shown here).  Boulder opals are also quite small, because the natural veins within the stone are thin.  


On Etsy, there is at least one gemstone supplier who is offering opal doublets which are thin layers of opal that have been glued to ironstone.  This supplies seller clearly states that these are doublets.  It would appear that the jewelry seller on Etsy purchased these from the supplier (they look very very similar in shape and style).  If that's the case, then why is the Etsy jewelry seller (who knows these are doublets) calling these "boulder opals"?  I don't believe the seller is merely misinformed---I believe they are using "creative marketing" (i.e., fraud) to sell their jewelry.  These items are CLEARLY sold by the supplier as opal doublets and not "boulder opals"!  Plus, the seller can see the backing (which is conveniently NOT shown in the jewelry listings).  Boulder opals are natural and valuable opals, and doublets are much less expensive man-made opals.

The drilled opal doublet supplier on Etsy is called Gempalace, and their doublets are beautiful!!  (If you click on the link, you can see them!)  There is another doublet seller called  Casagemsbeads located in India, and theirs are beautiful as well, with more of a freeform shape.  Both of those gem suppliers are totally upfront and call their drilled opals "opal doublets".  I'm considering buying some from them myself!!

Just because an opal doublet is backed with ironstone (as opposed to onyx or glass) doesn't make it a boulder opal.  Those are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS, very different, and now you know the difference!

Buyer beware!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Rutilated Quartz, Tourmalinated Quartz: What Are The Differences?

There are two types of clear or semi-clear quartz gemstones with little "needles" inside, and they are both very popular because they are both so beautiful!   One is called "Rutilated Quartz" and the other is known as "Tourmalinated Quartz".  They're both quartz stones, but with very different inclusions!

Yet it seems a large number of sellers (and therefore buyers) don't know the difference between the two.  But it's very simple:


This is clear quartz that has GOLDEN Rutile crystal "needles" captured within the stone.  Rutile is a mineral, also known as Titanium Dioxide, and appears to be golden or reddish tiny "hairs" or needles.  It is because of the encapsulated Rutile needle crystals that this is called Rutilated Quartz.


This is clear quartz that has black Tourmaline crystal "needles" captured within the stone.  These needles are actually the gemstone Tourmaline that has formed within the Quartz.  It is because of the encapsulated black Tourmaline that this is called Tourmalinated Quartz.

And so whenever you see quartz with black "needles" inside, it is Tourmalinated Quartz.
Whenever you find clear quartz with golden "needles" inside, it is Rutilated Quartz.

There is no black Rutilated Quartz.

Now you know!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What is Gold-Filled Jewelry? How Much Gold Is Really In It?

There are three metals that are known as "precious" metals:  Gold, Silver, and Platinum.  Other metals used in jewelry are known as "base metals" and these include brass, bronze, copper, nickel, and so forth.  Most costume jewelry is made out of base metals.  "Fine" jewelry is made from precious metals.  Pure gold (24k) is too soft to hold gemstones securely over time, so it's alloyed (mixed) with other metals.  This is how we get 18k gold, 14k gold, 12k and 10k gold, etc. and also how we get various colors of gold---rose gold, white gold, green gold.   Pure silver is also alloyed with other metals (primarily copper) resulting in Sterling Silver (92.5% silver).

What Is Gold Filled?
In the jewelry industry, there are different terms for Gold Filled:  it can also be referred to as "rolled gold", "metal cladding" or "gold overlay".  There are standards for gold filled, and basically a thin sheet of karat gold (10k, 12k, 14k) is fused to a thicker sheet of base metal (brass, bronze, nickel or even steel) by heating the two sheets of metal to 900 degrees C, then rolling the metals together under high pressure (about 2500 psi).  The metals are now bonded.  This becomes a rigid sheet of welded metal that is karat gold on the outside----the part we see and touch.  This gives the look of karat gold at a much cheaper cost.

Is The Gold Only On One Side Of The Metal?
The placement of the sheet of gold over the base metal is called "cladding".  There is single-clad gold filled, and double-clad gold filled.  Double-clad is used on items to prevent discoloration (oxidation or tarnish).  Round gold-filled wire and tubes have a layer of karat gold welded entirely around the outside. 

How Thick Is The Gold Layer?
Most gold filled products have an outer layer of gold that is between 10 karat and 18 karat in fineness, 14k the most common. Depending on the usage, the thickness of the gold sheet varies.  The layer is measured in microns, and for reference, 1000 microns= 1 millimeter (and 25.4 millimeters to an inch).  The thickness of the layer of gold in gold filled jewelry is between 5 and 100 microns.   In inches, 5 microns = 0.000196850394 inches.   In inches, 100 microns is 0.00393700787 inches.  VERY, very thin.

What Are the Marks On Gold Filled Jewelry? 

All items designated and sold commercially as “gold filled” or “rolled gold” must comply with the rules set forth by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  The total gold content for an object designated "gold filled" must equal 1/20th of the total weight of the finished item.  This means that 5% of the item must be karat gold, and the remaining 95% is the base metal and solder

How Long Can Gold-Filled Jewelry Last?
Based on normal and reasonable wear parameters, the durability estimates per Metal Arts Specialties for some gold filled pieces are:

        ITEM             THICKNESS                   EST. DURABILITY
Bracelet                    30-75 microns                     5-10 Years
Chains                      5-10 microns                       2-8 Years

What About Gold Vermeil Items? In Comparison, How Long Will It Last?
Based on normal and reasonable wear parameters, the durability per Metal Arts Specialties for some gold Vermeil pieces, which by law must have a minimum of 2.5 microns of gold, are:

      ITEM                THICKNESS                    EST. DURABILITY

Bracelet                  2.5-8 microns                        3-7 Years
Chains                    2.5 microns                            3 Years

✦✦ Please keep in mind that Vermeil is a term used ONLY for solid Sterling Silver (or fine silver) with a minimum layer of 2.5 microns of gold, often 18k Gold or 24k pure Gold.  This means that with Vermeil jewelry, you are getting all precious metals---gold and silver--- which have intrinsic value, and not clad base metal like what you get with gold filled (which is 95% base metal).

What "Myths" or Exaggerations Are There About Gold Filled Jewelry?
  • "Gold Filled is considered a lifetime piece of jewelry".  Not really.  It should last, under normal wear, between 2 and 20 years.  SOLID gold is a lifetime piece of jewelry. 
  • "Gold Filled is a tube of brass that's filled with gold."   It's not anything "filled with gold".  "Rolled Gold" or "Gold Clad" are other terms, and they are less confusing.
  • "Gold Filled will NEVER chip or break off."   Not usually, but it can and sometimes does peel off the base metal.
  • "There is over 100 times the amount of gold in gold filled v. gold plated vermeil jewelry, which is just paint."  FALSE!  FALSE! FALSE!  Vermeil isn't "gold paint" and is regulated by the FTC for a minimum of 2.5 to 8 microns of actual gold.   Please refer to the chart above.
  • "Gold filled Jewelry will NEVER tarnish!"  Not true.  It can darken with exposure to sulfides in the air or skin, just like other metals.  It can easily be polished back to its original shine.  BUT since there is no such thing as "gold filled solder", the solder joints will blacken and will stand out against the gold filled piece.
  • "This cast charm is Gold Filled."  NO.  Gold Filled items can only be made from sheet, wire or tubing due to the nature of the process to make gold fill.  Casting requires melting metal, and gold fill cannot be melted and cast.
  • "This ring is Gold Filled."  Unless it's a wire-wrapped ring, made out of gold-filled wire, it is not gold-filled.  If it's a ring with prongs (or a cast ring), it is NOT gold filled and is probably just plated.  It's impossible to melt and cast gold-fill.
Gold fill is a reasonably priced, quality alternative to solid gold. Most gold-filled items are made in the USA.  Gold filled jewelry will provide the look of solid gold, and the feel of solid gold, for many years.  However, if you are looking for a lifetime piece of gold jewelry, solid gold is the way to go.

Friday, October 17, 2014

$5 Off -- Anywhere on Etsy!

If you are new to Etsy, you can buy anything (from ANY SHOP) and receive $5 off!  Here is a link to that coupon:


That's a really great deal!!  Thanks, Etsy!
I have items in my shop that are under $10, so that's a really really great deal!

Plus, I offer 15% off anything in my shop (use coupon BLOGGER15OFF at checkout).  Then, after each purchase, you also receive a coupon to take $10 OFF anything in my shop on your next visit!!  Here's a link to my shop:

InVogueJewelry / WabiSabiChic

Monday, October 13, 2014

Opalite: NOT a Gemstone! NOT Quartz!! Just Glass

I got a "recommended shop" from Etsy today, and the seller is offering "Opal Quartz" because it's the "birthstone for October".

What is Opal Quartz, you ask?  Well it's actually Opalite.  

Opalite is GLASS.  It's not quartz.  It's not opal.  It's not "Blue Fire" opal.  It's never described as "eye clean" like actual gemstones.  It's not rated as "AAA+" or anything else, like gemstones are. Opalite is just glass, manmade glass that has an iridescent quality. It is certainly NOT the birthstone for October, since it's not a "stone" at all---it is glass.

It's also not worth anywhere near $48 and up for one Opalite briolette on a chain.

You can buy an entire STRAND of Opalite at Michaels for $3.99.  And at Michael's, they are honest enough to label it "Opalite Glass" because THAT is what it is.  Retail establishments would HAVE to honestly state what an item is, for fear of getting into trouble with the FCC for fraud.  I guess small online Ebay and Etsy sellers don't care about that, or think they won't get into trouble.

Is there such a stone at all called "opal quartz"?  The answer is NO.

Genuine Ethopian "Welo" Opals
For the money you might spend on this glass briolette necklace, you can buy a beautiful Welo Opal (also known as Ethopian Opal) piece and that IS a GENUINE OPAL, and is spectacular!  

Please, buyer beware!!!  Use Google to find out more information before making a purchase.  Be an informed consumer!