All weights pertaining to gemstones, including diamonds, are minimum weights. Additionally, please note that many gemstones are treated to enhance their beauty. View Gemstone Enhancements and Special Care Requirements for important information.
Sterling silver, also called fine silver, is a beautifully lustrous cool-toned precious metal favored in fine jewelry among other products. The most reflective of all metals (excluding mercury), sterling silver looks stunning by itself and brings out the best hues in an array of colorful gemstones.
Sterling silver can be polished to a higher sheen than platinum. In fact, Ag, the chemical symbol for silver, comes from a word that means “white and shining.” The surface of silver can boast that shiny, polished appearance, or can be brushed, satin, matte, sandblasted, antiqued or oxidized (chemically blackened).
In order to be called sterling silver, a metal must be made up of a minimum of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% alloy (meaning other metals), including but not limited to copper and nickel. The alloy is added to pure silver to make the metal more durable, tougher and harder. Sterling silver is designated a fineness of “925.” Pieces with sterling silver may be marked “sterling.”
Finishes on Sterling Silver
Finishing, or plating, is a common treatment with sterling silver. Popular types of plating are rhodium plating, gold plating and anti-tarnish plating. Plating is used to extend the life and sheen of the jewelry. After sizing or buffing a piece of jewelry with a machine, it must be re-plated to restore the finish.
Caring for Sterling Silver
Sterling silver becomes tarnished as the result of a natural chemical process that occurs when sterling silver is exposed to chemicals in the air, rubber, wool and latex. Humidity also plays a role in accelerating tarnishing. It's easy to keep your sterling silver sparkling, though, by taking a few steps to prevent tarnish and other wear and tear.
Necklace Clasp Types
A clasp is more than a practical device used to fasten your jewelry. It is part of the overall design and can be a very important focal point. Be sure to consider if it will suit your needs of durability, fashion, comfort and peace of mind.
Barrel Clasp: Used on most rope chains to make the chain more secure. The barrel clasp looks like part of the chain and twists to get a pendant on and off.
Lobster Claw Clasp: As a traditional clasp style found in bracelets and necklaces, the lobster claw is generally reserved for heavier styles that may need added strength. The closure's shape is more oblong, similar to a teardrop shape, and is controlled by a tip that opens and closes the spring in the clasp. This type is also considered a more expensive finding that can add to the overall value of the jewelry piece.
Magnetic Clasp: The popularity of the magnetic clasp has greatly increased in recent years. It is a quick and easy way to secure jewelry while not having to fuss with a tiny clasp, which can be difficult if you have long fingernails, arthritic hands or other mobility challenges. A magnetic clasp relies on a strong internal magnet that works to pull both ends of the clasp together. In most cases, a magnetic clasp is used for light to medium weight jewelry pieces that do not put excessive stress on the magnet.
S-Clasp: An S-shaped piece of metal that connects a chain by hooking metal rings on each end of the S-shape.
Slide Insert Clasp: This type of clasp is exactly as it sounds. With a box-like shape that is hollow on the inside, the wearer will slide the nearly-flat tab into the box until it clicks, indicating a secure closure. On some jewelry, a slide insert clasp will be accompanied by a side safety catch, which adds strength and security to the clasp. Although this type of clasp is found on both bracelets and necklaces, it is particularly popular on bracelet styles. These types of clasps are often reserved for more expensive jewelry.
Spring Ring Clasp: One of the most common closure types, the spring ring clasp is typically used for light to medium weight bracelets or necklaces. It is round in its design and features a small tip which controls the opening and closing of the spring. The circle then closes around another smaller loop or link at the other end of the strand.
Toggle Clasp: A toggle clasp is a narrow piece of metal, usually designed in the shape of a bar, which is then pushed through a circular ring to act as a fastener. Unlike the lobster claw or spring ring clasps, a toggle clasp is not controlled by a spring. The pretty design is less secure than other closure types, but is usually meant to be a big part of the design and is meant to "show". The clasp is an attractive way to secure a chunkier link bracelet or necklace.
The length of a necklace or chain you buy depends upon a number of factors, including what you will be wearing with it and your neck size.
To measure your neck, wrap a soft, flexible tape measure around the base of your neck. This is the same measurement used for collar sizes in men's shirts. A good rule of thumb is to buy a necklace or chain a minimum of two sizes up from your neck measurement. Thus, a man with a 17" neck would want to skip the 18" size and get a 20" size to ensure a comfortable fit.
Appropriate women's necklace lengths are more dependent upon the style than neck measurement. Knowing your basic neck measurement, though, will help you decide what length will work best with your outfit and create the look you are after.
Jasper is an opaque variety of chalcedony that contains organic materials and mineral oxides. These give it interesting patterns and colorful bands of red, brown, pink, yellow, green, gray, white and blue. Because these color designs resemble landscapes with mountains and valleys, jasper is often named according to its pattern , including the words “picture,” “landscape” or “ribbon” within the name. Picture jasper, for instance, is a petrified or silicated mud that dripped into gas pockets in molten lava. It became super-heated and then solidified to form the unusual banded patterns that are typical of this stone. Today, jasper is found worldwide, with a wide variety located in the western areas of the Unites States. The beautiful stone even adorns the Saint Wenceslas Chapel in Prague.
Jasper was a favorite gem in the ancient world and is referenced in Greek, Hebrew, Assyrian and Latin literature. It was b elieved to bring on rain and protect in dangerous situations by driving away evil spirits. Nowadays, jasper is thought to balance yin yang energies by stabilizing and healing. Poppy jasper is said to help bring joy into life and opalite jasper is said to help one sleep.
Created when lava cools rapidly, obsidian is a glassy and lustrous mineral found in lava flows. This volcanic glass is usually black, but can also be red, brown, gray, clear or dark with “snowflakes.” In rare cases, it is even an intriguing green color. This beautiful stone ranks a 5.0 on the Mohs Scale and is often called “Apache tears.”
Found all over the world, agate has been creatively striped by nature. It is a type of chalcedony quartz that forms in concentric layers of colors and textures. Each individual agate forms by filling a cavity in a host rock. As a result, agate often is found as a round nodule with concentric bands like the rings of a tree trunk. Tiny quartz crystals called drusy (sometimes spelled as druzy) often form within the stone, adding to its beauty and uniqueness. Agate is a hard stone, within the range of 7.0-9.0 on the Mohs Scale.
In 1497, the mining of agate in the Nahe River valley in Germany gave rise to the cutting center of Idar-Oberstein. When the Nahe agate deposit was exhausted in the nineteenth century, Idar cutters started to develop the agate deposits of Brazil, discovering Brazil's rich deposits of many other gemstones. A famous collection of two to four thousand agate bowls, accumulated by Mithradates, King of Pontus, shows the popularity of agate at the time. Agate bowls were also popular in the Byzantine Empire. Collecting agate bowls became common among European royalty during the Renaissance and many museums in Europe, including the Louvre, have spectacular examples.
Although the small town of Idar-Oberstein is still known for the finest agate carving in the world, today Idar imports a huge range of other gem materials from around the world for cutting and carving in Germany. Cameo master carvers, modern lapidary artists and rough dealers flourish there, exporting their latest gem creations. It is an entire industry that grew from the desire for agate products during the Renaissance.
Agate was highly valued as a talisman or amulet in ancient times. It was said to quench thirst and protect from fevers. Persian magicians used agate to divert storms. Today, some believe that agate is a powerful emotional healer and helps people discern the truth.
About the Collection
Look like one in a million with Argentum 47 - an exclusive, handcrafted jewelry collection from designer Dominique Dinouart.
Well-known for her sterling silver designs, Dominique has been creating jewelry for more than three decades. Working with her own artisans, the collection is handcrafted in Taxco (pronounced Tas'ko), Mexico, an ancient mining town rich with Aztec, Spanish and Mexican history. For generations, Taxco has maintained its reputation for exceptional jewelry design and hand craftsmanship. Today, the artisans of Taxco carry on the traditions of their ancestors, creating jewelry with the same techniques and care as those who came before them.
Discover all the collection has to offer, including bold rings, earrings, bracelets and more.
About the Guest:
Dominique Dinouart has been designing jewelry for more than three decades. Born and raised in Paris, her pieces are heavily influenced by art. As a studio sculpture major, she strives to create each item in her collection as its own unique work.