Sterling Silver and Brass - The Most Common Jewelry Making Metals
If you are going to be making metal jewelry your are going to use sterling silver or brass at some point. Do you know what the difference is between sterling silver and silver? Or what an alloy is? If you are going to use these jewelry making materials for any project, from making brass charms to coin pendants, you should know their characteristics.
First, lets take some time to understand what an alloy is. Both brass and sterling silver are alloys. Alloys consist of two metals in combination, such as sterling silver (silver and copper), are called binary alloys. A combination of three metals-gold, silver, and copper-forms 14-karat gold, is a ternary alloy. There are also 4 metal and 5 metal alloys called quaternary and quinary alloys.
Sterling silver is an alloy created by combining.925 parts if pure silver and.725 parts pure copper. You may sometimes hear about Mexican silver. This is an alloy that is.950 parts pure silver and the rest copper. Both types of silver are subject to oxidation when heated. In normal conditions the alloy (sterling silver) reacts much faster to oxidation than the pure metal (silver). The normal oxide that is produced on the metal when heated is a sulfide film. Other oxides that silver alloys produce are cupric and cuprous, because of the presence of copper in the alloy.
The melting point of sterling silver is 100 degrees less than pure silver at 1640 degrees Fahrenheit. When the metal hardens, it can be returned to a soft working stage by annealing.
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc with the zinc being in percentages anywhere from between 10 to 40 for different degrees of hardness. Though brass is a hard metal, it is extremely malleable. Brass is a yellow color when cool and a salmon color when molten. The melting point of brass ranges from 1600 to 1849 degrees Fahrenheit.
Brass is used for primarily inexpensive jewelry and trophies, especially with the sky rocketing price of gold and silver in today's market place.
As you use jewelery findings like brass charms, sterling silver bead, brass coin pendants and more you make want to customize them to fit your needs. As your jewelry making skills expand, so will the complexity of you jewelry designs. Even though you will be purchasing prefabricated jewelery findings, you may want to customize them to suite your needs. By understanding their properties, you can do so.