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Is all that glitters brass?


#1

I am very fond of metal beads, but as with all beads, even when
buying items in bulk, good labelling is hard to come by. My question
is: if it looks like brass, can you safely assume it’s brass? Is
there a cheaper alloy that looks like brass?

On a similar topic, silver coloured brass plated beads. If they are
not labelled as silver plated, I would expect them to not be silver
plated, so… would it be nickel? If you have a clearly bright nickel
plated brass bead, what would the softer silver coloured one be
plated with?

Lastly, is there a particular metal/finish that gives the gunmetal
colour to a metal bead?

Carol Wang


#2

wow I only understood a little of that but I had a weird bead
experience yesterday. Large actual amber beads we are talking 23 mm
in diameter and 25 mm long of amber capped with what I was told was
sterling silver caps.

Well my cats peed on one after playing with it and the corrosion
loosened the bead end to my surprise it was capped with pitch about
1/4 inch thick… a pattern in the pitch and it was thin silver foil
burnished on to get the design covering it to look like a large
silver end cap.

I tested the amber and it is real I am just amazed lol

Is this a common practice in beads?

Trying to remove the pitch with damaging the amber is also a great
challenge all suggestions welcome.

Teri
Silver & Cameo Heritage Jewelry
www.corneliusspick.com


#3
I am very fond of metal beads, but as with all beads, even when
buying items in bulk, good labelling is hard to come by. My
question is: if it looks like brass, can you safely assume it's
brass? 

Carol, this is a chronic problem. If a metal bead looks like brass,
you cannot assume that it’s brass. It is most likely brass-plated
pewter or pot metal, or perhaps it’s brass-plated stainless steel. I
always carry a little magnet with me to test “brass” beads – if
they’re magnetic, they are steel underneath the brass plating. More
ambiguous is if they are weakly magnetic, they may be nickel or
nickel-silver underneath the plating.

If I see a nice “brass” bead at someplace like Michaels or ACMoore,
I try to get a small package on sale, take it home and use my Wiss
aviation snips to cut one in half – the grey interior indicates
that the bead is not solid brass but is plated. But never expect
anyone at these craft stores (or at most other places) to know in
advance whether or not the beads are plated.

If you can buy a single bead, filing or sanding in some area may
also expose the metal underneath, as will tumble-polishing, if it’s a
particularly thin layer of plating.

Of course, the beads could be gold-plated. Test that in one of the
ways suggested several days ago in this forum, under the heading,
“Easy telling brass wire from gold wire?”

Sometimes, brass is plated over brass. The outer layer may be
"Hamilton Gold," a type of brass (I think) which is resistant to
tarnishing (which always makes me wonder why more sheet and wire
aren’t made entirely of “Hamilton Gold”). The worst case I ran across
was some solid brass beads which had been plated with something grey
and then plated with Hamilton Gold. I had a horrible time getting the
grey layer off (I do not like to use anything plated).

I’m still trying to find solid brass spacer beads (the kind with
tiny little balls around the outer edge). All I’ve ever found are
brass-plated pewter.

Best wishes,
Judy Bjorkman