Identify the right quality sterling silver jewelry?


We retail and take part in shows and now import jewelry from Thailand
India and often from Italy, mainly we are into high quality sterling
silver jewelry with comteporary designs.

We were at the Bangkok Jewelry show, there were hundreds of Silver
Manufacturers/Traders selling for wholesale with a wide variety of

We often have difficulty in spotting/differentiating the right
finishing or the right polish or the right stone setting!

Can some one help me in seperating the following finishing on
sterling silver peices

(1) Peices with Rhodium plating
(2) Peices with .999 silver coating
(3) Peices with anti tarnish coating on silver plating

How can one consider the polish/finising done is perfect and not
overpolished or little underpolished?

Is there a definite color difference for rhodium plated/non rhodium
plated/ silver plated on sterling silver ? It is often difficult to
find out the kind of coating/plating done on sterling silver.

Are there any websites or links, where one can learn to differentiate
from the final finishing?

Also are there any websites where there are photographs or articles
from where one can find out flaws in stone setting (Bezel, Pave,
Channel, Prong) for Sterling Silver Jewelry?

Are there any more criterias to be judged from the peices displayed
apart from stone setting, finishing, polishing, porosity level, over
all balance in shape? How should the links in the bracelets be?
specifically the ones joining the stones in between? How should the
notch in the earrings be?!

It surely takes lot of experience in making out which are the perfect
or atleast correct peices that could be purchased for resale!

Emily & Adler

Emily and Adler,

The jewellery trade in the UK is at an all time low and is being
killed of by the insistance of retailers like yourself buying cheap
imports. You must realise that you will get what you pay for, there
are many sweatshops employing children manufacturing much of the
cheap silver jewellery that is imported these days. How can English
jewellers compete with the costs when the child labour costs in the
far east is so low, especially with all the high rates and taxes we
have to cover with our costs. Can I suggest that you add a section
to your stock of UK manufactured items, then you can ask the
craftsperson for the details on quality of stones and setting, and
with an English hallmark you will be sure of the metal quality.

I am not saying never buy imports, but perhaps a little more care
and knowledge about its origins would be useful. Over the past few
years I have seen many long established goldsmiths and jewellers
workshops closing, which means that there will be less opertunities
for youngsters to enter apprenticeships and continue the line of
fine craftspeople.

I will now get off my soapbox, and get on with some work. Regards
James Miller FIPG ( Fellow of the Institute of Professional

Thanks so much for the note. Unfortunately, we are not selling other
peoples work at present. We manufacture gold and enamel jewelry in
22K. We plan on intrducing our line in Jan. 2006. Perhaps after we
introduce our line we will decide to carry a few top end lines of
others work in our retail space. I have put your note on file.

Thanks Dennis


I certainly would like to second James Miller’s post on this
subject. I know that the Orchid community is a very open and tolerant
one, but I found this question a little over the edge. I have
willingly shared of my humble experience for the last 8 or 9 years
but don’t expect me to help you in your endeavour of importing cheap
overseas jewellery and thus - perhaps - help you spoil the business
for a fellow orchidian. Sorry, but I could not help this, and I think
a lot of other Orchidians feel the same.

And a word of warning: a lot of the jewellery offered for export are
copied/stolen designs. You might risk being sued if you happen to
import a piece which has been copied illegally.

Niels Lovschal