Welcome to "A Mad Designer's Journey"

The comic, inspiring and always fashionable adventures of this "mad designer" as she navigates the reality of pursuing her dream...living the artisan lifestyle of a jewelry designer.

Phoenix Design, Artisan Jewelry is a one woman shop powered by zany energy, midnight inspirations and the support of my friends.

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Jewelry Care

Fashion Jewelry: Commonly used Metals /Precious Metal Care

 Floating Gold Rhinestone Encrusted Sphere on 14k GF Chain 
Gold Filled: For those who have sensitive skin, 14K gold filled jewelry is an enduring, cost effective way to keep a solid layer of gold in contact with your skin. It has 1/20th the weight layer of 14 karat gold. The gold is permanently bonded over a core of base metal.  It is created by heat and pressure bonding a thin layer of gold to a brass core. Under normal everyday usage and with proper care that you would give any precious jewelry, 14 karat gold fill will not peel, strip or deteriorate. It is tarnish free. 

 Golden Vintage MOP Pendant Necklace
Gold Plated jewelry is made by laminating a thin veneer layer of gold over any base metal using 
electro-chemical processes.  Gold plated jewelry has 10 karats or greater in quantity.  Not all gold plated jewelry is the same. The quality of gold plated jewelry is determined by the amount of gold applied to the base metal. Not only will it increase durability but provide higher quality.  Gold plated jewelry has a thinner layer of gold than 14 Karat gold filled jewelry.  
The major disadvantage of gold plated jewelry is its tendency to lose its gold color and lust.  The reason given is most gold plated jewelry is veneered over silver.  In due course, gold will gradually lose its concentration and eventually recede into the silver base metal.   Better quality gold plated will have a tendency to last longer when copper is used as a substitution over silver; although copper will still be reactive to gold, it does it at a lesser degree.  The highest quality of gold plated jewelry is when nickel is added as an additional barrier between the gold and silver/copper. Nickel will not pass through gold.

 Sky Meets Ocean

Sterling Silver represents the highest quality marking to be found in silver.  To qualify as Sterling Silver, it must contain a minimum of 92.5% unadulterated silver  and 7.5% unadulterated copper. The main explanation as to why copper needs to be added is that Pure Silver in it's natural form is very soft and pliable, the addition of copper increases it's durability and strength  to withstand everyday use without breaking. As the concentration of silver increases in the metal, tarnishing decreases. Although, there is something wonderful about sterling silver, it tends to improve over time and keep it's color and luster. Argentinian, Bali, 925 and Tibetan Silver are markers to look for when in high quality Sterling Silver.
Love's Promise, Vintage Estate Locket
Silver Plated 

Caring for Silver Plated jewelry is similar to Sterling Silver jewelry.   To remove tarnish from Silver plated jewelry uses the same recommend cleaning techniques for cleaning Sterling Silver. The only major difference is reducing the amount of polish used as over exposure can inadvertently remove the silver plating. See alternatives to creams or dips below under "General Jewelry Care" .
Unlike Sterling Silver, Silver plated jewelry will eventually wear in due time. Proper cleaning, maintenance, and storage are critical for extending its life usage.  Some Silver Plated jewelry will last longer than others depending on the thickness of its layer. 

 Vintner's Necklace, Garnet, Amethyst

Rhodium (Silver) Plated : Rhodium is fairly new to the US market and is considered a high quality component when added to silver which is reflected in the market price. The reason for this is the chemical compound in Rhodium provides the additional benefit of being "tarnish resistant" . TARNISH RESISTANT does not mean tarnish free. The plating's will not fade-away for a long time if findings are not overly exposed or touched to the moisture (i.e.: sauna's, swimming or soaking in  beach or pool).
I personally use solid brass vs. a Base Metal for all my plated components and always use a lead and nickel free brass for Rhodium Plated components and buy from reputable suppliers  therefore this would be a good high end alternative to sterling silver and require less maintenance to upkeep. 

 Tall Ship Vintage Glass Pendant Set in Solid Brass

Brass is a metal alloy made of the both chemical compound of copper and zinc. It contains 2/3 copper and 1/3 zinc. When it comes to jewelry, brass is the metal of preference for making costume jewelry due to the minimum cost associated with this material. The 2nd reason is the material is quite pliable and works well for involved and detailed design. Raw brass can be polished to gold like luster or oxidized to create an antique look. Raw Brass will develop a lovely patina with age referred to as verdigris - a green patina that forms on copper or brass or bronze that has been exposed to the air or water for long periods of time. Brass may be cleaned and/or polished like gold or silver jewelry and has an unlimited lifespan with proper care. For those with sensitive skin look for jewelry marked “lead and/or nickel” free solid brass .

Iced Mint Green Fluorite Nugget Gunmetal Chain Tangle Necklace

Gunmetal jewelry has gained popularity and is generally a soft dark Grey color with a purplish or bluish tinge, oxidized or antiqued silver is often confused with this material. Gunmetal is a type of bronze containing copper (88 per cent), tin (8-10 per cent), and zinc (2-4 per cent). Gunmetal may be cleaned and/or polished like gold or silver jewelry and has an unlimited lifespan with proper care.

General Care:
1. Don't use mainstream cleaners. They are very harsh and can harm the finish on plated jewelry. Instead, we recommend cleaning plated jewelry with warm soapy water with a soft brush for hard to reach areas. Don’t forget to dry it immediately with a lint-free cloth.

2. Store your jewelry in either the same jewelry box that came with your piece or in a zip-lock bag. It should be noted that even solid gold and sterling silver jewelry can tarnish with exposure to the air. If you want to prevent this from occurring, we suggest you regularly wipe each piece down with a lint-free cloth. Also, don’t forget to store your pieces in a proper zip lock bag.

3. I also do not recommend using ultrasonic cleaners. Although these cleaners will remove dirt from hard to reach areas, they may also disturb the hand wrapped settings. Avoid those machines whenever possible and try to clean your fashion jewelry by hand.

I recommend you use polishing cloths such as Selvyt 100% cotton clothes for use on Swarovski crystals and gemstones and or Moonshine polishing cloth for use with gold, silver, platinum, copper or brass. Neither is abrasive and it will remove tarnish without a lot of effort. Both clothes are available for a nominal fee and kept in stock at my Atlanta studio.

You can also try a tarnish removing paste found in jewelry stores, but be careful since some products can be highly abrasive and could remove the silver plating. 

If you follow these guidelines, I am certain you will have years of enjoyment. It is my hope you enjoy your unique One of a Kind hand crafted jewelry design as much as I did creating it. Please contact me with any questions or concerns.

Thank you, 
Kim Coleman, Designer

STAY TUNED TO UPDATES to include: Semi-Precious Gemstones, Swarovski Crystal, Pearls, Estate Jewelry and Safe Cleaning Solutions one can make with everyday Household Products.

ROCK ON! by Phoenix Design Jewelry