Design Idea E556 Earrings
by Barbara van Look, Content Development Group, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

It's not merely a case of "gold vs. silver."

Which kind of gold? What fineness of silver? What about copper? Then there's polished vs. antiqued--plus issues of allergies and metal sensitivities. Choosing the right metal for your design involves balancing a number of factors, both artistic and financial.

Put on your thinking cap--it's time for some stylin' decision-making!

Precious or Plated: Which Metals Should You Use? What to Consider

Jewelry designers have a number of issues to keep in mind when choosing which metal to use in their work--if, indeed, they choose to use any metal at all.

Allergy Awareness

If you're creating for commission or "on spec," metal sensitivities and other allergy issues need to be part of your conversation with the customer. The most common metal sensitivity is nickel, which tends to show up in a range of metal alloys as it can be relatively inexpensive. A helpful guideline for determining nickel content is to seek "nickel-free" or "European Union Nickel Directive Compliant" components.

Alternate Options for Metal Sensitive Customers
Precious gold and fine silver are popular alternative metal choices for sensitive customers, as are a number of hi-tech modern metals. Although there's no "one metal to rule them all" solution to metal allergies, some commonly recommended options include 14Kt gold, Argentium® sterling silver, titanium, niobium and some grades of steel. Plated styles tend to include nickel and copper in the underlying metal alloys, so you might consider avoiding plated components entirely for these customers and jewelry lines.
Of course, there is a market for metal-free jewelry, too. No-metal designs are ideal for customers with intense metal sensitivities or workers in certain industries--such as MRI technicians--who cannot wear metal on the job. (If you sell your work near a hospital or medical center, consider offering some MRI-safe styles!)

Artistic Choices

Sometimes, you're designing for a particular look and metal choices are a rich part of your vision. Some jewelry makers opt out of metals entirely by using gemstone toggles or bone clasps while others design by hue and shade, choosing color-matched niobium earwires, eyepins, jumprings and wire for a consistent look throughout a design.
Nobium Products

Nobium Findings

Slide Lock Clasps

Slide Lock Clasps

Design-Directed Choices
We have a number of clasp and finding styles which are available in a range of metals, finishes and surface treatments (polished vs. antiqued). In fact, we regularly go through our best-selling clasp styles and engineer alternative versions to offer more design options with the styles you've shown us you like best.

You'll often see the same style of clasp or finding in sterling silver, gold and silver finish, antiqued brass, gunmetal and other variations. See the options for slide lock clasps, filigree box clasps, toggle clasps, hook earwires and leverback earwires for an example of your breadth of choice.

Financial Considerations

And here's the elephant in the room: right now, you can't afford anything other than plated components. That's okay. You do what you can do. You can still make stylistic decisions from wherever you are financially:

Affordable with Style
Of course, our All-Assortable Program helps, especially if you and a friend place orders together. Reach a count of 100 items and you're in our lowest cost-per-item bracket.

And once your account reaches $3,000 in a 12-month period, you're qualified for our Platinum Partners business-to-business sales program. Platinum Partners are business people who buy a lot of product--and we want to encourage the growth of their beading and jewelry-making businesses--so our Platinum Partners get additional discounts and exclusive access to specialized products.

Finally, don't forget buying in bulk. It's another great way to get your components at a low per-item price. Your bottom line goes down, which means your profitability can go up. It also means you can invest in higher grades of metals over time, expanding your market.
Precious or Plated: Which Metals Should You Use?

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