Free Pair of SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS 12mm Butterfly Beads with Swarovski Crystal Purchase

Beading How-To's

Beading Resources > EncycloBEADia > Beaders' Guide to Jewelry Metals

 Beaders' Guide to Jewelry Metals 

Aluminum - is a pure element, commonly found with bauxite. It is a soft, durable, lightweight and non-magnetic metal that is easily shaped and resistant to corrosion.

Brass - is a metal alloy of copper and zinc, used for its long wear and bright, gold-like appearance much like bronze. Over time it may oxidize to a green color (patina).

Bronze - is a metal alloy of copper and tin. It frequently exhibits an antiqued golden color with traces of green.

Carbon Steel
Carbon Steel - a type of steel that contains carbon, with other alloys making up a trace portion. This term is also used generically to refer to steel that's not stainless.

Copper - is a pure element. It will oxidize (or patina) over time to a green or brown color.

Fine Silver
Fine Silver - items are made from 99.9% pure silver.


Gold-Filled - items are made by combining a layer, or layers, of gold alloy to a base metal (usually brass), then rolling or drawing the metal to the desired thickness and shape. It has a long life and can be worn by most people without allergic reactions. Our gold-filled wire is 12Kt; our gold-filled chain is 14Kt.





Gold-Finished, Silver-Finished, Copper-Finished and Nickel-Finished - (also called Gold-, Silver-, Copper- and Nickel-Colored or ''washed'') items are electroplated with a non-standardized thickness of gold, silver, copper or nickel.





Gold-, Silver-, Copper- and Nickel-Plated - items have an industry standard of 0.15 to 0.25 mils thickness of gold, silver, copper or nickel which is plated to the surface of the base metal.


Karat (Kt) - is the measure of fineness of gold. 24Kt is pure gold, 14Kt gold is 14 parts pure gold. The balance is alloy. 14Kt is the standard fineness used for most jewelry in the USA. Our 14Kt has a rich yellow color and has hardness and durability suitable for lasting use. Our 18Kt gold has a darker color with a deeper yellow tone.
Karat Measure
Gold/Alloy Content
100% pure gold
75% pure gold - 750
58% pure gold - 580
42% pure gold - 420
37.5% gold - 375

Gold, White
Gold, White (KtW or Kt White) - items are made of an alloy of gold with nickel, palladium or silver and have a platinum-like color.

Gold, Rose
Gold, Rose (KtR or Kt Rose) - items are made of an alloy of gold with higher levels of copper and have a warm, rose-tinted color.

Hill Tribes Fine Silver
Hill Tribes Fine Silver - items are made from high purity silver, usually 95% to 99% pure.

Nickel Silver

Nickel Silver - items are made of an alloy, mostly containing nickel, popularized in German and Native American jewelry. Nickel silver resembles sterling silver in color, with a greyer tone.


Niobium - items are made of a hypo-allergenic metal first engineered to protect hypersonic aerospace vehicles from extreme conditions. After manufacturing into the desired shape, such as earwires, headpins, eyepins or jumprings, the naturally grey base metal niobium is then anodized to create six signature colors. Most people who are metal-sensitive can comfortably wear niobium.


Pewter - is an alloy of tin mixed with a small proportion of another metal, generally copper, antimony or bismuth. Silver-grey in color, it is a comparatively soft metal. It is frequently plated with silver, copper or gold.

''Pewter'' - is an alloy of tin with zinc, similar in look and feel to pewter made from other pewter alloys. It is frequently plated with silver, copper or gold.

Red Bronze
Red Bronze - is an alloy of 80% copper and a blend of de-oxidizers which prevent the green verdigris coating from forming. It has a thin transparent sealant to prevent tarnishing.

Rhodium-Plated - items are plated with rhodium, a pure element used in the jewelry field as a whiteness protectant and anti-tarnish coating.

Stainless Steel
Stainless Steel - is the generic term for grades of steel that contain more than 10% chromium. It resists corrosion, retains strength at high temperatures and is easily maintained. Two common grades are Type 304 (most common) and Type 316L.
  • TYPE 304 - The most common type (chromium-nickel stainless class): accounting for more than half of the stainless steel produced in the world. This grade withstands ordinary corrosion in architecture, is durable in typical food processing environments, and resists most chemicals. Type 304 is available in virtually all product forms and finishes, including jewelry components.
  • TYPE 316 - Also a chromium-nickel stainless class, 316 contains 2%-3% molybdenum (whereas 304 has none). The inclusion of molybdenum gives 316 greater resistance to various forms of deterioration.

Sterling Silver

Sterling Silver - items are made of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper or other alloy, proportions fixed by law. Sterling silver will "patina" over time, that is, its color will take on an antiqued look.

Sterling Silver-Filled

Sterling Silver-Filled - items are made by combining a durable outer layer of sterling silver (.925/20) surrounding a copper-alloy core. Fabrication is completed with an anti-tarnish coating to preserve the beauty. Sterling silver-filled items handle like sterling silver.


Titanium - items are made of neutral grey, lightweight metal. Titanium can be anodized to create color, similar to niobium. Most people who are metal-sensitive can comfortably wear titanium.


Troy Ounce - the weight system used for precious metals, differs from a standard avoirdupois ounce, the weight system used for food and non-precious metal items. Only precious metal uses the troy ounce system. One troy ounce = 31.1 grams. One avoirdupois ounce = 28.4 grams.

''Vermeil'' - items are made of sterling silver, electroplated with gold.

How did you like this resource? Your feedback helps us provide resources that matter to you most.

All products sold by Fire Mountain Gems and Beads® are not intended for use by children 14 years of age and under.

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads, Inc. - One Fire Mountain Way, Grants Pass, OR USA 97526-2373
Copyright 2008-2014 Fire Mountain Gems and Beads, Inc. All rights reserved.