Metal beads come in all shapes, sizes, and compositions. The sheer variety can make any bead jewelry project stand out and shine. A favorite of the majority of higher grade bead collectors are precious metal beads. These beads can be slightly more expensive than garden variety base metals, but they add a touch of affluence to your hand crafted works that cannot be mimicked by other materials. If you are looking to make beautiful projects with precious metal beads, you should familiarize yourself with the following types of metal.
There are three types of silver beads used in jewelry making projects. Sterling silver is the most common precious metal used in beads. In order to qualify for â€œsterlingâ€ status, the metal must be at least ninety-two percent pure. The second is known as fine silver, meaning that the bead is almost pure silver. Pure silver beads are softer than sterling, so you may need to exercise additional care when working with them. The cheapest type of silver metal bead, is the plated bead. Plated metal is simply a fine coating of the precious metal over a harder metal. This plating can wear or scratch off over time, so it is not often used in a piece that will undergo continuous use.
Gold is one of the most beautiful substances in the world, and beads made of this material have commonly been used as trade items in the past. Like silver, gold metal beads come in three distinct compositions. Pure gold beads come in varying degrees of purity, known in the jewelry world as carats. Nine carat, the least pure, is most commonly found in beads, though some can be found in the purest form, twenty-four carats. Gold plating is also commonly found on beads, and like silver, is fairly thin. The last type, is a gold filled bead, which is a sheet of bonded gold over a base metal. Because it is stronger than full gold, it tends to be more expensive.
Vermeil beads are made from a composition of fourteen carat gold, and sterling silver. Generally, the core is made of the sterling silver, and plated with the gold composite. The result is a wonderfully beautiful color and substance. These beads are a bit expensive, but the gorgeous colors are well worth the price.
Platinum is a very rare, very strong metal. Because it is most commonly used in things like high technology and weaponry, the amount relegated to jewelry is very slim. However, you can find platinum metal beads occasionally, though they are very expensive. Platinum is the strongest metal known to man, so jewelry made from this material is highly prized.
There are many base metals that are used as beads. They are not nearly as beautiful as precious metals, base metals used in beads include, copper, bronze, iron, steel, and a huge variety of other compositions. Even unrefined metals, such as pewter, can be found in bead form. Your choice all depends on what colors and textures you want in your jewelry.
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