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All Things Mettle

How to Stop Breaking Cuff Bracelets and How to Comfortably Wear Them

How to Stop Breaking Cuff Bracelets and How to Comfortably Wear Them

I'll be honest, I've not been much of a bracelet wearer. My favorite pieces of jewelry are earrings, rings, and necklaces. BUT! I have mad respect for all you bracelet wearers out there! I especially love it when I see an arm adorned with more jewelry than I could make in a year!


In a near decade of working in a fine jewelry store watching people put on all kinds of bracelets, I've learned a few things that work and a LOT of things that DON'T!
I want to share what I've learned with you, as well as tell you that at the forefront of every piece of jewelry I make, comfort and durability are wildly important. Jewelry should encourage you to wear it because it's comfortable, durable, and expresses how wildly one-of-a-kind you are.


In this video, you will see me taking on and off a cuff bracelet (that I made for Wendy and her sister from their mother's old cocktail ring! Full story here!) You'll notice that it's opening is front facing, but this works either way. I've learned that when the ends overlap a little, the bracelet is not only less likely to come off, but also easier and more comfortable to put on. The key is to turn it slightly sideways.

 


If nothing else, please don't resort to bending the bracelet open and close every time you put it on or take it off! This is the quickest way to break a cuff. 

A little engineering goes a long way! Ideally, your cuff bracelet should only need to flex a little to go and off. If you're needing to flex it enough that it changes the shape, then the fit and/or form are off and you are bending the metal and risking a break.

 

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How to Wear Statement Rings Comfortably

How to Wear Statement Rings Comfortably

The biggest concerns for comfort with a statement ring are:

  1. Does it catch on everything?
  2. Can you still use your hands?

There's a really easy way to rule out rings you can wear and rings that can wear you- TRY IT ON! If it doesn't "fit like a glove," you're going to risk comfort.

But there's more to it than that...

As for concern #1: Does it catch on everything?

I recommend giving a new potential ring in your life the "sweater (or stocking) test." CAUTION: YOU CAN DAMAGE YOUR CLOTHES WHILE PREFORMING THIS TEST. (Basically, you would TRY to catch the ring on a fuzzy sweater or tights to see if it is going to pull the fabric or scratch. You know, the ole' try and break it test!)

Well made bezels (where the metal goes all the way around the ring to set the stone) are excellent for comfort! There are no prongs you have to worry about scratching you or others and the stone is set very securely! So, if you're trying to go for best case comfort, shoot for bezels, like these beauties below! I've linked them to their page so you can get a closer look and claim them before they are GONE! These 3 rings fit the criteria above and beyond for a big beautiful ring you can wear all day!

As for prongs, comfort mostly depends on how well the ring is made. You don't want to purchase or wear a ring if the prongs are coming up or catching a bunch of fuzz under them (unless there's someone that can fix it for you.) It you find that your ring is doing this, take it to a jeweler QUICKLY! If fuzz can get under the prong, then that means it can pull the prong up and you could do some real damage in a variety of ways (lose the stone, break the prong, scratch a human or animal!) Lifted prongs are a cry for help. Find a jeweler!

Now for concern #2: Can you use your hands while wearing it?

One of the most important aspects of a larger ring in the front is that it tapers in the back. You've got to be able to bend your fingers, right? I would also recommend that the band is comfort fit inside, meaning that the ring's shank is rounded inside instead of just flat with edges that can be uncomfortable. 

Rest assured that every Mettle by Abby ring I make is comfortable to wear! I round all the insides of the rings and taper the backs so that you are wearing your Mettle by Abby jewelry as much as possible! Jewelry likes to be worn :)

You don't have to have a BIG rock in your ring, or even a super BIG ring for it to be a statement ring.

I love this comfy silver Orbit ring! The picture doesn't do all the sparkling (caused by my hammering a diamond into it to create loads of facets and play) justice. There's a really charming allure when someone in the room is wearing this ring! Find out!

Or if you're feeling a little more clean and smooth...

This simple hammered circle band is an easy go-to for any outfit and even the pickiest of ring wearers will miss it when they take it off!

It can be difficult to find a comfortable statement ring, IF you don't know what to look for. Hopefully I have been able to simplify it a little for you and the knowledge I've gained over the past decade or so in the jewelry industry is helpful to you!

If you like what you've read, have questions, or just want more good stuff in your jewelry world, sign up below! And thank you for reading!

 

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Vermeil, Gold Filled & Gold Plated Jewelry: What is it and How to Care for it

Vermeil, Gold Filled & Gold Plated Jewelry: What is it and How to Care for it

Gold plating is the least durable of these three (gold filled, gold plated, and vermeil). Many different metals can be gold plated and the durability all comes down to the thickness of the gold layer, of which gold plating is the thinnest. I’ve seen gold plating so thin that is can rub off in a day or two. As far as using gold plating on a piece of jewelry, I would avoid anything that gets rubbed or worn. Rings and bracelets are the worst candidates for gold plating. It may look good brand new in a photo or jewelry case, but after a few hours of wear, a gold plated piece is going to show signs of its downfall.

So is there something thicker or more durable?

Yes. In terms of gold covered metals, gold filled is much more durable.

gilded

You can see the layers of metal fused together by looking at the edge of a coin. 

Have you ever looked at the side of a quarter and seen the layers of different colored metals? You can see how thick the metal on the head and tail sides of the coin are, can’t you? Gold filled jewelry is made similarly. Although not as thick and obvious as you can see on the quarter, with gold filled jewelry, a fine sheet of gold is clad to the outer surface. Not all gold filled metals are the same, either! You may have seen a karat stamp that says “1/20 14k GF” which means that 1/20th of the item’s weight is 14k yellow gold. Basically, 1/10 is going to have a higher gold content than 1/20. By law, gold filled items must have at least 5% of its total weight from the gold layer.

There are some draw backs to gold filled. Remember that quarter? The exposed edges show the metal inside that’s different.

gold filled jewelry

In this gold filled piece, the ends are revealing the copper underneath the gold. This is unavoidable in gold filled pieces wherever the wire or sheet metal has to be cut, sanded, filed, or heavily worked on. Often it won't be visible on a new piece, but after a few weeks (or less!) it will show up.

While it won’t be so obvious in gold filled jewelry, it’s still something to be aware of. When the gold filled jewelry is polished, worn, or scratched, it wears through that gold layer. At the ends of the wire and sheet, the copper or base metal will show through much more when that base metal oxidizes and turns black. Most of the time, people don’t notice it, but if you look at your gold filled jewelry, you will notice little signs like this, especially as it ages and gets worn.

So what’s vermeil then?

Vermeil (pronounced “ver-mill,” or as I have most often heard it, “ver-may”) is gold plated silver. Vermeil is gold plated but it is required by law to be at least 2.5 microns, or 0.0025 mm, thick. Also, vermeil has a silver base, so no copper or brass insides. What I like most about vermeil is that, when the gold plating wears off (and if it’s a ring or bracelet, you can count on that happening!), then you are still left with a silver piece of jewelry. GRANTED! Your worn vermeil jewelry will look a bit strange as parts of the gold plating are left and the silver is showing through, but, I think it beats having a partially gold plated brass or copper piece that’s turning black and making your skin look (and sometimes smell!) weird.

worn gold plated jewelry

You can see the differences easily in this well worn piece. The raised areas that have made more contact have worn all of the gold finish off, but most of the recessed areas still have a decent gold plating to them. Since the base metal that has been plated reacts and tarnishes easily, the difference in metals really shows up.

So what’s the verdict?

I have worked in a fine jewelry store for close to a decade and seen MANY gold filled antique pieces that have held up well, but it depends on the piece, and the person wearing it. Full disclosure: no gold filled, gold plated, or vermeil ring is ever going to stand the test of time. Anyone that tells you that is lying to you. It will always wear through the gold, if you wear the ring. Even solid gold rings wear down so far sometimes that the backs of them need to be re-shanked, so how could a few little microns of gold ever last?

Gold plated, gold filled, or vermeil (let’s call the whole lot “gilded” from here out for brevity’s sake) earrings and necklaces stand the best chance of lasting since they aren’t worn as roughly as rings and bracelets. If you really want to get a gilded ring or bracelet, I would suggest going for something gold filled, not plated, or even vermeil (try to get a thick vermeil) and at least be prepared that it will look different with wear. Gilded jewelry can be beautiful and is a great solution to wearing trendy gold jewelry that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. There can be a huge difference in price and quality, though, if you don’t know how to navigate the waters in terms of… well, terms. I have wanted to branch out into the gilded jewelry world, but I have yet to find the right fit for me.

To me, durability, honesty, and quality are at the forefront when I’m designing. Not that gilded jewelry can’t be those things! It certainly can! As far as earrings and necklaces (and often bracelets) go, I see gold filled jewelry as an excellent solution. Gilded rings need to come with the knowledge that it is an impermanent thing. Vermeil can be beautiful, although the gold starts to look a little light and faded as the silver starts to show through. My idea on that, though, is that with the right design it could actually have a very cool effect!

 

SO!

How do you care for your gilded jewelry?

Basically, you want to make as little contact with it as possible. Do not take a polishing cloth to it, simply gently wipe it off with a cotton cloth. Do not let anyone polish it because it will quickly wear down the plating. Avoid contact with all chemicals, perfumes, lotions, and makeup. When you take it off, have a separate and safe place to lay it.

 how to take care of gold plated jewelry

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to comment or e-mail me!

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