Hi! I'm glad you're enjoying your tour of my workshop and I'm happy you stopped by. I figured I'd write this post to answer any questions you might have – if your question isn't listed here, please feel free to gimme a shout!
I hand forge most of my jewelry using 14K gold fill. This results in an elegant, real gold piece at a fraction the cost of solid gold.
Q: So, it's not solid gold... but it's still real gold?
Yes. In many ways I prefer fill over solid. After all, I want options in my closet and don't want to spend my entire budget on a single piece. By providing a rich coating of karat gold – the stuff people will actually see – over a core of fine brass, I can save on material cost while offering designer jewelry for less than a fifth the cost of solid gold.
In my line of work, 14K gold fill really is a blessing.
Q: But pray, dear Marina, what exactly is this "14K gold fill" thou dost speak of?
A: I'm glad you asked, my Renaissance friend! Gold fill is an exciting alternative to solid gold. It binds a shell of solid 14K gold about the finest brightened brass: an elegant alloy called "jeweler's brass" (85% copper/15% zinc). When polished, jeweler's brass beautifully mimics the color of 14K gold – but all your friends will see is that thick shell of real, solid gold.
It bears repeating that the savings you'll experience here will give you a designer piece for one fifth the cost of fine jewelry. With the same look and feel of completely solid gold, gold fill truly is the next best thing.
Q: Wait. I've grown suspicious – you're pushing this pretty hard. Isn't gold fill just another name for gold plating?
A: Nope! That gold-plated stuff you used to get at carnivals and ramshackle booths in shanty towns is very thinly coated. It can be a concoction of many metals, from steel to tin. While higher quality plating does exist, any sort of plating is much less durable than gold fill and not nearly as lustrous. Gold plating's thin veneer wears off over time; gold fill is much more durable: its thick outer shell of gold is pressure bonded to its solid brass – at times silver – core.
Not to mention my gold fill has approximately 100X more real 14K gold than gold plating!
Q: I used to have a wristwatch I bought at a stall in Six Flags Great America. It gave me Hulk wrists. Will your gold fill rub off or turn my skin green?
A: No, my regretably timepieced friend – 14K gold fill won't cause skin irritation or Hulk wrists ;-)
Q: Whew. Thanks. But all kidding aside, I do have metal sensitivities – I have to be careful what I wear.
A: Totally. While 14K gold fill generally causes no more skin irritation than an equivalent piece made from solid 14K gold, a small percentage of the population do find that even solid gold irritates their skin.
I also must be mindful of those who might be sensitive to even the barest of non-precious metal exposure. If you do have a metal hypersensitivity, I can upgrade your P&S earring posts to a 14K solid gold option for an added cost.
Also, finer link necklace chains may be more susceptable to tarnish and core exposure due to friction and sweat. If you'd like to discuss alternatives, please contact me prior to purchase!
Q: Last one: does your jewelry contain nickel or other cheap metals?
A: No. My pieces contain no ferrous or cheap metals – nothing below the finest quality jeweler's brass and 14K gold (or silver and a small amount of hardening copper for sterling) – and my 14K gold fill is just as non-magnetic as solid gold.
Q: Well, that's reassuring. Wait – now that you mention it, what about your sterling silver? I do love my two-tone bling.
A: Ah yes, me too! Unfortunately my sterling shinies don't get so much space here because silver is pretty straightforward: unless you're a werewoof you shouldn't have any issues with Pliers & String sterling silver pieces. They're handcrafted from only the best alloy – 92.7% silver/7.3% copper – which is manufactured "melt to market" here in the USA.
In fact, all of my 14K gold fill and sterling silver wire stock – used to craft Pliers & String hoops, bangles, bars, cuffs, nearly all studs and most of my pendants! – is 100% U.S. made.
"All That (Technical) Jazz"
Q: Well Marina, this has all been fascinating, but I'd like to be more bored: could you describe to me the technical features of your materials and sourcing?
A: Hold my beer, I'll be right back.
"Avoiding the Bendies"
Q: I'm new to such delicate jewelry – how much care should I take with your willowy gold fill and sterling silver pieces, as opposed to, say, surgical steel?
A: Like any length of soft metal such as gold or silver, I would take care not to use excessive force when handling, or when opening or closing clasps – especially hoops, which should be opened laterally in order to maintain their shape.
Re: bangles and cuffs I strongly recommend you slide your new bracelet on as if it were closed instead of pulling ends apart to create a larger opening. Excessive back-and-forth bending can compromise its shape, and that would be a no-go booboo.
In terms of general advice for everyday wear, if you wait to don your jewelry till after you've applied make-up, moisturizer, perfume or hairspray, your pieces will stay bright and lustrous for much longer. This goes as well for the following activities: manual labor, showering, swimming. Though most of my pieces are safe to wear in the shower or pool, your jewelry will retain its shine and polish for much longer if set aside before taking that much-needed rinse or dip.
Q: Okay, so I'm ready to check out. What's included in my Pliers & String order?
A: Your order includes a complementary polishing pad alongside your piece in a hand-packaged box perfect for gifting or storage.
Q: Wow, this is a nice polishing pad... How often should I use it?
A: Well, that depends on the amount of patina or tarnish you'd like. If you prefer to keep your pieces bright as the day they were born, I would advice a nice polish at the first sign of discoloration or any buildup, which will occur naturally with regular wear. If you want to be super vigilent, a quick polish weekly should do nicely.
P.S. I'm glad you like the polishing pad – it's made from tight bond cellular foam permanently bonded with micro-abrasives. Sounds a lil' rough, but your jewelry will love it! It's great for getting those nooks and curves, not to mention the fact you can actually see the pad lift off the tarnish and oxidation which builds over time.
Q: Thanks, Marina! I worship your workshop and this has been amazing and I feel like a Mega Brain now!
A: I love your enthusiasm! If you want to fill a jeweler's apprentice gig lemme know ;-)
*One last note, from Marina's hubby: You may have noticed a little asterisk up there next to our free shipping banner. Unfortunately we can only offer this free shipping promo on qualifying domestic orders. While we can certainly ship internationally, its cost isn't covered by this promo.