The steel that we use is a low carbon steel and it is the most popular of all of the base metals for plating because of its strength, weight and cost.
Brass would be the 2nd most popular base metal to plate. The brass we use is what is considered to be a “rich-low” brass C226 alloy and is a mixture of 85% copper and 15% zinc. Brass is more expensive than steel and approximately 13% heavier giving the chain a nicer weight with more of a perceived value. Brass is used on higher end pieces when cost is not as much of an issue. Because brass is softer than steel, the chain will tend to be slightly weaker, which is usually only an issue on the smaller chains. For those chains we offer soldered brass versions. Like steel, brass can be plated in any of our available finishes.
Soldered brass is comprised of the same rich-low brass wire that we use in our unsoldered chain however the chains are processed in a way that solders all of the individual links creating a much stronger brass chain. Due to this soldering process some chains may become red in color which will not affect plating, but can be removed in a process we call “fire dipping” if you would like the natural color of brass.
We use a C521 bronze alloy made up of approximately 92% copper, 8% tin and around ¼% phosphorus, which is used as a deoxidizing agent in the melt and is also why it is sometimes referred to as “Phos Bronze”. The resulting metal is very similar to brass in its strength and weight, but has a beautiful rich golden color. Bronze will tarnish naturally overtime like brass or copper and accepts patinas very well. Bronze can also be plated in any of our finishes.
We use a 110 grade 100% pure copper for all of our copper chains. Copper chain is the same price, weight and strength as brass chain. Copper chain can be plated in any of our finishes, however is mostly used in its raw form or sometimes vibed and lacquered to bring out the coppers natural beauty and to preserve its shelf life. It has also been rumored that copper has healing properties for people with arthritis.
We use a 1350 grade aluminum for all our aluminum chain. Aluminum is approximately 3 times lighter than steel and is significantly weaker, which is why it is only available on chains using wire larger than 35 gauge. Our aluminum chains can be plated in most of our finishes with the exception of any of our antique or ox finishes. Aluminum would normally be used on larger bracelets, necklaces, belts, handbags or on clothing where a larger chain is needed, but the piece needs to remain light.
We use a 304L grade stainless steel on all of our stainless steel chains. While stainless steel chains can be plated they are typically used in their raw form or vibed to give additional luster. Stainless steel chains are very popular in religious and medical jewelry due to the fact that it is hypoallergenic and extremely durable. Stainless is the only base metal that we carry that can be worn all of the time in any conditions without any detrimental effects on the chain. It can even be worn in the shower and to the beach!
Sterling silver is an alloy consisting of at least 92 ½% fine silver with the other 7 ½% being mostly copper. While sterling silver chains can be plated most people use sterling silver just vibed to bring out the sterling’s luster or vibed with an anti-tarnish applied to prolong the chains shelf life.
14/20 Gold Filled
Gold filled is made by joining a layer (or layers) of gold alloy, in our case 14k gold, to a base metal alloy, which is then drawn down into smaller gauges to be used for making the chains. Our Gold filled is 1/20th 14k gold, hence the 14/20 gold filled designation. Here is an interesting article on Gold Filled