Category: Silver jewelry
Want to spend a couple of hours lost in the ancient worlds of the Romans and Greeks? Take a pleasant drive to Ann Arbor and visit the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. As an alumnus of the Gemological Institute of America (G.I.A.), I was recently invited to attend the Michigan chapter’s tour of the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. What a fun and educational experience!
Tied to the University of Michigan, the museum is situated on South State Street in Ann Arbor. It’s not a large place, but it’s packed with delightful artifacts from ancient cultures. The focus is on classical Greek, Egyptian, and Near Eastern archaeology. Over 100,000 artifacts are housed there, with about 1500 on permanent display. On our tour we saw Greek and Roman coins, Egyptian jewelry, and Etruscan pottery. We also toured their special exhibit called “Less Than Perfect,” celebrating the lessons learned from failure. It showcases art that went deliberately awry.
The museum is named after a professor at U of M back in the early 1900s. Born in 1858, Francis Kelsey grew up in New York, went to school in Chicago, and was hired as a Latin professor in 1889. During his 38 years in Ann Arbor, he led two archaeological expeditions to Egypt, the near East, and Asia Minor. Many of the artifacts in the museum were unearthed during these expeditions. Kelsey lived during a time when there was huge fascination for all things ancient. Discoveries like Pompeii and King Tut’s tomb contributed to this fascination. He was able to gain funding for his expeditions and his collection by seeking help from financiers like J.P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie. Kelsey worked tirelessly to create a collection that would help educate archaeology students, right up until his death in 1927.
I hope you can go to the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. For me, it was just the right size museum. It’s open year-round and every day of the week except Mondays. And it’s always free, although donations are appreciated. For more information, the website is https://lsa.umich.edu/kelsey/
Two of the most common metals used in jewelry, silver and gold have colorful pasts and lots of varieties that can be difficult to understand. Let’s try to unravel the history and the mystery.
This element, called argentum by the Latins (which explains the Ag symbol on the periodic table), was discovered in approximately 4000BC. The word argentum means “white and shining.” Silver was the original white metal. It has been mined in many places on Earth, including the United States.
Sterling silver signifies an alloy composed of 92.5% silver (If you see a little stamp on your jewelry that says 925, that means it’s sterling silver). The other 7.5% is generally copper, which contributes strength and hardness. Newly developed silver alloys, like Argentium, have a higher percentage of silver and a substitution of the element germanium(Ge) for some of the copper. These alloys are said to tarnish less, so they don’t need to be rhodium-plated. Rhodium(Rh) is an element that resists corrosion, but it’s also a very white metal so it’s often plated over white gold to improve that metal’s “whiteness.”
This metal has also been used in jewelry for thousands of years. It has always been a symbol of wealth and stature. The ancient Egyptians worked gold into jewelry. So did the Chinese, as early as 1100BC. While gold was originally found in the Middle East, today most of the world’s gold production is in Africa. Other gold-producing countries are Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Russia, and the United States.
Pure gold, 24 karat gold, is very soft. It’s alloyed with other metals to enhance its hardness, strength, and character. Typical alloys are 10 karat (41.7% gold), 14 karat (58.5% gold), 18 karat (75% gold), and 22 karat (91.6%). The karat mark will be on an inconspicuous place on your jewelry. Here in the U.S., for example, 14 karat gold would be stamped with 14K or 585. Gold is usually mixed with metals that will enhance the color desired in the final product. So white gold is alloyed with white metals like nickel, palladium, silver or zinc. Rose gold is alloyed with copper.
Not all gold jewelry is karat gold. Less expensive fashion pieces can be gold plated, vermeil, or gold-filled. These are all different, even though sometimes they are seen as interchangeable. Electroplating is a process that coats the gold over a piece of jewelry made with nonprecious metals like iron or nickel. The gold plating is very, very thin–only microns thick–and eventually wears away. Vermeil is gold plated over sterling silver rather than a base metal. The thickness of the plating is at least 2 microns. But when a single human hair is 50-100 microns thick, you know just how thin that plating can be. Gold-filled jewelry has approximately 100 times more gold than a gold-plated piece. The gold is bonded over brass or another base metal. It’s usually stamped as 14K G.F. and will not wear off like gold plating.
There is so much to know about metals. This really just touches the surface. The important thing to remember is that not all metals are equal. The purer the metal, the more valuable it will be. So when you’re buying jewelry, be sure of the metal(or metals) it’s made of.
Every well-dressed woman has certain “go-to” pieces in her wardrobe–a black dress, patent leather pumps, a cardigan sweater. . .These are the articles frequently pulled out of the closet. They work in a variety of situations and always improve the ensemble.
When it comes to a jewelry wardrobe, what are those classic, “go-to” pieces? What should every woman have in her jewelry box? Based on the opinions of many, here are the top five. They make wonderful holiday gifts because you know they’ll be worn over and over again.
- DIAMOND STUD EARRINGS are not only classic, but also a great investment. Since the setting for the earrings is a minimal part of the cost, and diamonds rarely go anywhere but up in value, this “must” is the perfect gift. At Dearborn Jewelers, we have a trade-up program for customers who’ve purchased their diamond stud earrings from us. Fair market value for the earrings can be used towards the purchase of a larger pair of studs.
- GOLD HOOP EARRINGS, in white and/or yellow gold, are an important mainstay in a woman’s jewelry wardrobe. They can be dressy or casual, and they coordinate with other pieces of jewelry.
- A DIAMOND PENDANT NECKLACE just sparkles at the base of her neck. It’s another great investment, since, again, Dearborn Jewelers has a trade-up program. And a diamond pendant and earrings together? Stunning.
- A GOLD OR SILVER CHAIN that can be worn alone or with a pendant is an essential part of any jewelry wardrobe. Small, simple chains are great for layering with other necklaces. Probably the most versatile chain is a 16-18 inch adjustable wheat or box chain. (One hint for gift-givers, though, is to pair a pendant with that chain. A chain by itself is probably not the most exciting gift.)
- A WRIST WATCH rounds out the top five. At Dearborn Jewelers we carry the Tissot brand, which is a Swiss-made watch. We have a wide selection in stock.
If you are looking for that perfect gift for the woman in your life, check to see if she has these classics. If not, stop by Dearborn Jewelers of Plymouth. We can help you round out her jewelry wardrobe. If she has them all, maybe what she needs is a jewelry box. We have those, too!
STACKABLES are in fashion! People like to stack bracelets, necklaces, and even rings. This trend has led to thinner, smoother styles that stack easily. The picture above features “bamboo” bangles from Thistle and Bee. The agates and topaz stones can be easily offset so the bangles fit nicely together.
In reading articles from Huffington Post and Harper’s Bazaar, I learned that stacking is rather an art form. It strives for a carefree feeling, fun and not too heavy. If you are stacking necklaces, stick to thinner chains, smaller pendants or charms, and only a few small stones or beads. It’s best if you stagger the lengths and not wear anything too chunky. If it’s rings you want to stack, try mixing metals and textures. Again, it’s best if the rings have flat edges and small, single, or no stones. Keep your stacked rings to one finger per hand. It’s just as important to have fingers bare, so that the eye goes to the stack. Bracelets, on the other hand, can be wide and bold. The more, the merrier with these! You can dress up both arms and stack them to your elbows if you want. Mixing a couple of different metals is fun, and using different shapes and thicknesses is preferred. The main caution is to minimize other types of jewelry if you’re wearing a lot of bracelets.
ROSE GOLD is quite the rage! This alloy of gold and copper is not just for the strawberry blonde. Some people say it looks great on those with a warm skin tone–think peaches and autumn. But other people say it looks wonderful on those with a cool skin tone–think strawberries and summer. Obviously, rose gold is a lot more versatile than one might think. Rose (or pink) gold looks fabulous with the vintage ring styles that are popular right now. It has a delicate femininity that coordinates with the vintage look.
CIGAR BANDS are an up and coming trend, according to David Connolly. These are wider than the traditional wedding band, and they can be ornate or simple. Think of years back, when men proposed to the women they loved with an actual paper cigar band! Years ago we had a client who kept the paper her husband had used to propose and, decades later, had us custom make a gold version of it. She was ahead of her time! Or maybe it’s just that trends operate with the “what goes around, comes around” philosophy.
Trends are fun to observe, even if you don’t want to follow them. They are more obvious if you know what to look for. For instance, the Pantone Color of the Year is Marsala, so make sure to look for it this fall! If you pay attention to people’s jewelry, you’ll see more stackables and rose gold. Have fun and don’t forget to see our selection of rose gold and stackable jewelry!