Monday, August 25, 2008

Looking for Gold in the Silver Lining

We like things that sparkle and shine -- brilliant things that catch the sunlight and use it to make life more beautiful. We make jewelry with this in mind. We like trying to capture the beauty of the world around us and reflect it in our own small way. We mimic this amazing world through our use of natural gemstones and metals. Much of the value, if not the aesthetics, of a piece of jewelry come from the metal. By now everyone knows we’re big on sterling silver jewelry, but did you know it’s environmentally friendly sterling silver?

Caring About Nature because She Cares About Us

Recent films, like Blood Diamond starring Leonardo DiCaprio, have focused attention on where and how jewelry manufacturers get their metals and gemstones. Because we use genuine natural gemstones and .925 sterling silver at Relios Jewelry, we owe a lot to Mother Nature. We especially owe it to her to take good care of her. We do our part by using recycled silver.

You’ll find that we use recycled silver in every one of our sterling silver jewelry pieces, because we know that the mining of silver and other metals can be harsh on the environment. Metals like gold and silver are sometimes mined with a process called chemical leaching. Chemical leaching is where tons of earth are dug up, placed on a slab and then a chemical solution that binds to heavy metals like silver, is poured through it. The solution binds to the gold or silver and pulls the particles of metal out of the earth for separation later. Digging up so much land is damaging enough to the environment, but some of the chemicals needed to make the process work can be quite hazardous as well.

Since the environment of the Southwest United States has long been an inspiration to the designers of our jewelry collections, we want to do what we can to preserve the beauty of our surroundings. But it’s not enough to just take care of our own little corner. With a heart and mind towards doing good, along with making beautiful sterling silver jewelry , we purchase casting grain that is 100% made from recycled sources.

But that begs the question: where exactly does our silver come from? Our supplier of silver specializes in recovering silver from sources like other jewelers and photo-imaging companies. The silver is collected in the form of scrap bearings from jewelers using mined silver and the waste materials from photo development, then the silver is refined, analyzed for quality and then reformed for use by organizations like us.

Did you know? There is more gold in one ton of landfill than there is in 17 tons of ore.
(Deutschman, Alan. There's Gold In Them Thar Smelly Hills. Fast Company; Jul/Aug2006 Issue 107, p96-98.)

Looking Great In Gold Vermeil

Because it never rusts and never corrodes, gold is the absolute standard for precious metals. It remains a tried-and-true favorite of jewelry lovers the world over. But we also know that gold is amazingly expensive right now. The price of gold today is hovering around a whopping $930 per ounce! So the question is, how can a jewelry aficionado get her gold, and make an investment in her jewelry, without draining her pocketbook?

The answer to that is gold vermeil (ver-MAY).

While the gilding of gold onto other materials is an ancient practice (early examples date back to ancient Egypt circa 2300 BCE), the art of vermeil was first developed in 18th century France.

Gold vermeil is the process of taking sterling silver and combining it with gold either through fire gilding or electrolysis. Sounds interesting, right? But as a sharp-minded jewelry buyer, you want to know more about what you’re buying. Well, to claim that a piece of jewelry is gold vermeil, a jewelry manufacturer has to follow some strict rules. The gold must be at least 10 karats in fineness, it must be plated on a base of sterling silver, and it must be at least 2.5 microns thick.

Golden Nuggets Because the heavy use of mercury in fire gilding would cause blindness, the country of France banned the fire gilding method of producing vermeil.

The Vermeil Room in the White House where the vermeil tableware set is kept was originally designed as a “social room” for Theodore Roosevelt.

The advantage to vermeil is that you get the glory of gold for a fraction of the price. Aside from the value of combining sterling silver and gold, the gold layer on vermeil jewelry also won’t rub off like typical gold plating. Relios offers a number of gold vermeil jewelry pieces to take advantage of this stunning cost-conscious combination of sterling silver and gold.

So, come by the Relios Jewelry website and see the result of putting the beauty of nature first with our sterling silver jewelry or find the gold vermeil piece for you!

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