Archive for the ‘Sterling Silver’ Category

New Pandora Charms and Beads

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Everyone is releasing new items and holiday collections this time of year, and Pandora is no exception.

Their new holiday collection is all about glitz and glam, and I really like it. New beads include five new Pave beads – round beads pave set with glittering cubic zirconias in different colors (clear, blue, black, brown and pink), and a sterling silver Christmas stocking bead. (more…)

The New Holiday Collection From Trollbeads

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

As usual, autumn is zipping by at the speed of light, and it’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is only a week away… Time to get gift lists in order and start shopping!

Trollbeads released their latest holiday collection, and I have to say, it’s one of my favorites to date. There is a little bit of everything – cute, gorgeous, blingy and fun.

Glass Beads
The new glass beads include 2 limited edition collections, one in traditional red, white and green and one in a more subdued white, gold and black color scheme. There is also 1 new glass diamond bead, the “ice blue” – acrisp aqua with 13 cubic zirconias, designed by Lise Aagaard.

And these (below) made me smile the first time I saw them: adorable dangle Christmas ornament glass beads – how cute are they?! I could see putting a base bracelet in a gift box and tying one (or more – they are sold both as single charms and in sets of three) of these to the ribbon. Wouldn’t that be a great gift presentation?

Sterling Silver Beads
The new silver beads include the round “winter snow” and “Christmas rose” beads, cute penguin and polar bear beads, both with babies, a bead with a family of seals, the “pebbly” winter berries bead, the (in my opinion) rather oddly shaped Bougainvillea bead (which also comes in a gold version, with diamonds), the softly shaped heart and the adorable Christmas Tree bead (which is assembled in quite a clever way).

They are also introducing their first bangle bracelets, which come in sterling silver in four different sizes, and I know is something many have been waiting for.

A nice new collection, and, as is most often the case with Trollbeads, pretty affordable as well (perhaps with the exception of the gold Bougainvillea bead). Happy shopping! 🙂

All images: Trollbeads

Holiday Gift Guide – Elephant Charms

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Elephants have long been symbols of strength, power, intelligence, wisdom and excellent memory in many cultures across the globe, and in some, they are even deities: India has Ganesh and Airavata, Thailand has Erawan. There are also lots of other beliefs and folklore associated with elephants, and many consider them to be good luck. Some say that is true only if the trunk is up; others claim only white elephants can be considered lucky.

I personally love elephants on everything and think they are all lucky. I never leave the house without my little Ganesh charm – he is said to bring wisdom and remove obstacles, and who can’t use that on a daily basis? I put him on either a necklace, bracelet or just as is in a pocket.

Here is a little roundup of some recent favorite elephant charm finds:

1. Trollbeads Indian elephant charm

2. 14k White, Yellow and Rose Gold Elephant Charm from GiveMeGold Opulent and blingy with cubic zirconias

3. This charm by artist Heidi Gibson is actually a tiny oil painting on canvas! From Charmed By Heidi

4. Good Luck Elephant Charm Necklace from Dogeared

5. “My” Ganesh, from Shanti Boutique Fair Trade Designs

6. Sterling Silver Elephant Charm from Thomas Sabo

7. Elephant cabochon charm in glass and 18k gold plated brass from Anthropologie

8. Elephant Good Luck Leather wrap Charm Bracelet from The Lucky Elephant

Collage by Charms Guide
All content © Charms Guide

Unusual Pendants And Charm Bracelet Charms

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

The holidays are approaching with the speed of light, and I don’t know about you, but I’m already thinking (ok, slightly panicking) about my Christmas shopping. It’s not easy to come up with new, brilliant ideas for what to give year after year, so I thought I’d start a mini-series of posts featuring items that would make perfect gifts. First out are some very unique pendants and charms. Happy shopping!

Baby Teeth Charms

Oregon-based Kim Kovel has designed clothing for many of the most well-known sports brands, and came up with the idea for these charms when her son lost his first baby tooth. She made a gold version of it and wore it on a necklace. People started asking her where she got it, and soon, a new business was born: Le Knockout. The company makes custom charms from baby teeth using the lost wax casting method (i.e. a mold is created from the actual tooth, the tooth is removed and the mold is then filled with precious metal). This creates an exact replica of the tooth, and they are available in 14k gold or sterling silver, either plain, engraved with a letter or set with a small diamond. If you love the idea but don’t have kids, no worries: you can get your own teeth made into a charms too.

Photos: Le Knockout

Diamonds Are Forever

It’s People! (and pets)
The colorful diamonds from LifeGem are actually made from either a lock of hair or the cremated ashes of the customers’ human or animal family members. While one’s first reaction may be (and certainly was in my case) Yuck! you can’t deny that they are pretty to look at, and most of us do want to have some sort of keepsake to remember our loved ones by. The stones are created by collecting carbon during the cremation process (you get to keep the ashes) which is then put into the company’s diamond presses. The presses are made to replicate what the earth does naturally (apply heat and pressure) to create the stones. While they are man made diamonds, the final result has the exact same hardness and molecular composition as the real thing. You can get them in ¼ – 1 ½ carats in many different cuts, set in rings and pendants. Strange? Yes. Creepy? A little bit. Pretty? Most definitely.

Photos: LifeGem

Brains and Hearts and…

Pnuts’ creations are (thankfully) not made from the real thing, but unusual nevertheless. The charms and pendants are made from silver, 14k and 18k gold, some have precious stones, and all are handmade by Rusty Pistachio, the man behind the Pnuts brand. He also makes rings, cufflinks, earrings and key chains. When he’s not making jewelry, he tours with H2O, a hardcore/punk band.

Photos: Pnuts


San Francisco artist Deana Fukatsu of OctopusMe creates pendants, bracelets, rings, earrings, cuff links and tie tacks from real octopus tentacles, using the lost wax method. The pieces are hand cast in sterling silver or gold, textured and finished by hand. The silver pieces are oxidized, and some have precious stones (diamonds, rubies, sapphires, etc.).

I find Diana’s work intriguing to say the least, and asked her “Why octopuses”? How did you come up with the idea?” She replied: “The octopus is a sensual, cunning genius…. a master of disguise. I think they are one of the most amazing creatures. I like the connection of the octopus as a symbol of transformation and their powers to regenerate limbs. I feel people also have healing powers but often times we forget...”

I came up with the idea while eating at a Sushi restaurant in San Francisco. I was working with a Master Jeweler at the time doing his casting and wax. I had this Aha moment when I saw the Tako (Octopus). The earrings in the first photo was my flagship piece. I was thinking it was a fun play on the half hoop earring and if you were someone who worked in corporate America who wanted to express your own style, it could be as subtle as an earring. I think the jewelry people wear tells about them. So I made a pair for myself. The amazing energy really came from Etsy though. I posted them up right before I went to Burning Man in 2007. The rest was magic and OctopusME was born. Thank you so much to Etsy and all of the Etsians!

Photos: OctopusMe

For more gift ideas, also see the Cupcake Charms, Jewelry Men Gifts for Father’s Day and Charmed Bracelets and Necklaces for Mother’s Day posts (and stay tuned for more to come!)

Sterling Silver Charm Bracelet Or Not?

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

I recently got a question from a reader who was concerned about a silver charm bracelet she had bought on eBay. I thought that others could perhaps also benefit from this Q&A, so here it is:

Q: I recently bought a vintage charm bracelet on eBay from a reputable seller who guaranteed that all 18 charms as well as the chain had been tested as sterling. I took it to my jeweler to have the clasp changed to a lobster clasp. She told me that only 4 of the charms were sterling. The others stamped STERLING were attracted to a magnet, therefore they were not sterling.

Is this magnet test accurate?

She also told me that there was a jewelry maker with a company name of STERLING that had stamped their company name on the back of items giving the impression that the metal was sterling silver when it was actually silver plate.

Have you ever heard of this type of deception or this company?

How can I ever trust if a charm I am buying is really sterling silver?

Magnet Test
A: In regards to the magnet test, it works as a basic test – if a piece is attracted to the magnet, there is some level of a ferrous metal in it. Sterling silver is 92.5% pure silver alloyed with (almost always) copper, neither of which is magnetic. But just because the piece is not magnetic does not mean it’s sterling silver – it could be any non-ferrous metal. But are there other alloys commonly used with silver that would create magnetism? I asked around, and here is what one professional had to say about it:

“In 30+ years of being a goldsmith, I have never run across an alloy in gold or silver that was magnetic. Not to say that somebody somewhere hasn’t tried it, but you certainly can’t use a magnet to detect gold and silver. Remember that some clasps, such as lobster clasps and spring ring clasps, have steel springs in them and will be attracted to a magnet.”

Also, if the charms are rhodium plated, they will most likely be at least slightly attracted to the magnet, even if they are sterling silver. In the plating process, sterling silver is given a nickel underplate prior to the rhodium. The nickel is magnetic and causes the magnetic attraction (rhodium is not magnetic).

In order to be absolutely certain if it’s sterling silver or not, you need to file off a tiny bit of the supposed plating and do an acid test (or better yet, have a professional do it – that acid is vicious). The silver portion of the piece will turn a milky white, and the other metal will become green. Here is a visual of how that works:

The Sterling Company
In regards to the Sterling company, there were several companies with “Sterling” in the name: the Sterling Company, Sterling Craft, Sterling Silver Mfg. Co. (Baltimore), the Sterling Silver Souvenir Co., and the Sterling Silver Manufacturing Company (Providence, RI). However, the marks used were never just a solo “Sterling”; they used S, SSS and SSMC in addition to “sterling” (from the Encyclopedia of American Silver Manufacturers).

There are also marks that contain the word “sterling” as part of the company trade name used on silverplate. U.S. Sterling and Sterling Plate are found on silverplated flatware and souvenir spoons manufactured before the Stamping Act of 1906 made it illegal to use the word sterling in any way on anything that wasn’t actually made of sterling silver.

I have not personally heard of a company that made charms from base metals and stamped them “Sterling”. Again, I consulted an expert who told me:

“There are many frustrating pieces of American sterling that only bear the mark “sterling”. The best explanation I can give for these is that they were ordered from a silver wholesaler for resale in a retail establishment. The retailer might not have wanted to spend the money on having a store mark put on in addition to the sterling mark, or they might not have ordered enough pieces for it to be worth it to the wholesaler. This would have allowed smaller stores the opportunity to offer their customers sterling pieces without investing significant amounts of capital in stock.”

Test To Be Sure
In conclusion, I would say that the only way to be 100% sure that the charm is sterling silver, take it to a professional. And it doesn’t have to be a jeweler – pawnbrokers are actually great resources for this. They will often give you a free estimate and in order to do that, they need to know if what you have is real sterling silver or not, so they test for it, all for free and with no obligations for you.

How did things turn out for my reader?
She was lucky – she had the bracelet tested again, and it was found that the attraction to the magnet was caused by the jump rings that were used to attach the charms to the bracelet. They were soldered with something (or composed of something) that caused the attraction. Also, three of the charms were rhodium plated, which accounts for the magnetic attraction. Only one charm was determined not to be sterling; it was pewter.

For more on silver, see my post about shopping for a vintage silver charm bracelet.