Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Sterling or Nickel


#1

I wonder how many of you use nickel findings on things like pins,
bolos, clip-on earrings? The sterling is just so soft! Is nickel
acceptable on high-end sterling pieces?

J. S. Ellington


#2
    The sterling is just so soft! Is nickel acceptable on high-end
sterling pieces? 

Only if you no longer want to sell the piece as Sterling Silver. In
the USA, FTC rules dictate a jewelry item be stamped (only with it’s
lowest value component. In England, it wouldn’t pass the Assay
Office. Try work-hardening your Sterling pieces for better
durability.


#3

If you are in the USA and you plan to quality mark them with a
sterling stamp then no it is not acceptable according to the
stamping act.

Jim Binnion

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160


@James_Binnion
Member of the Better Business Bureau


#4

Good question - I have often wondered the same myself, especially as
I make a lot of tie-tack -style pins, barettes, etc. that can’t be
made without some sort of base metal finding. Sterling does get way
too bendy for many of these applications.

I also tend to attach such findings, be they nickel or plated steel,
with soft solder (Stay-Brite, usually), and I often wonder if this
is kosher for solid sterling pieces into which a great deal of work
has gone. We’ve touched on this subject and determined that the
solder was physically OK under many circumstances (not prong repair
on platinum, obviously)…but I’m keen to see the responses to the
above question.

Jessee Smith
www.silverspotstudio.com


#5

I should clarify that I attach little findings with hard solders; big
findings (the barettes) get the soft solder. (Too bad there’s no way
to edit posts without extra e-mails; sorry!)

Jessee Smith
www.silverspotstudio.com


#6
Is nickel acceptable on high-end sterling pieces? 

not only is it acceptable but if you can find a copy of “russian
jewelry, mid 19th century - 20th century”, published in english &
russian in 1994, you will see examples of super contemporary
jewelry using steel, glass, aluminum, brass, copper, acrylic, and,
almost exclusively, ‘german silver’ [nickel], with very little
silver & no gold.

the trick with nickel seems to be the burnishing - enough of it &
the surface is just about tarnish, scratch, bullet-proof.

ive


#7
I wonder how many of you use nickel findings on things like pins,
bolos, clip-on earrings? 

If you are using nickel findings, you cannot legally or ethically
mark a piece as sterling. It would reduce the overall silver content
of the piece below .925, the minimum standard to mark a piece as
sterling. I also feel that it would reduce the “desirability” of the
piece, but that’s a little more intangible. The only area you mention
that presents a challenge to me is making effective sterling bola
(bolo) backs from sterling. I make the little “bow” style backs, but
they don’t slide so well, especially with braided leather cord. I
find that commercial sterling pin findings are quite effective, even
if a little risky/challenging to solder on.

All the best,

Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio
Charlotte, NC (USA)


#8

According to the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, nickel findings are
an accepted industry standard (in the USA) for sterling pins &
brooches. When it comes to earrings, we run into allergy problems
that make me somewhat leery of using nickel. If I do use it, I make
sure to ask the customer if she/he has any allergy issues with
metals. I agree that sterling findings sometimes seem too soft to
hold up well. In fact, I now use niobium earposts on almost all of my
sterling earrings, because they are much stronger. They also fusion
weld much better!

M’lou Brubaker, Jeweler
Goodland, MN
www.craftswomen.com


#9

Wow, my mind is now completely blown. I just finished what I thought
was a beautiful sterling silver pin, my first pin. (Who wears pins
any more, it was all that talk a few mos. ago about Madeline
Albright that actually got me thinking about the form)— but I made
the actual pin, the stabby part that goes through your shirt, out of
spring hardened steel.

Let me say that I tried silver first, it was what was on hand. So I
tried it and all the burnishing in the world would not harden it
enough, so someone suggested Ni, that did not get “springy” enough
either. I opened the phone book and looked for Spring manufacturers.
A nice man at a company gave me what to him was a few scraps, and to
me was enough to make pins until the cows come home. The steel
worked beautifully, and if one splits hairs, it is not physically
attached to the piece at any point, just pulled through a tube
(sterling) and bent. Still, I stamped the pc “Sterling.” I was
wrong?!? Like I said, my mind is completely blown. The Spring
hardened Steel is the only metal that made the pin function as a pin.
How in the world was I supposed to get Sterling work hardened enough
to do what steel does by its very nature.

Marya
Ohio, US


#10
   <snip> --- but I made the actual pin, the stabby part that goes
through your shirt, out of spring hardened steel. <snip>   . . .
Still, I stamped the pc "Sterling." I was wrong?!? Like I said, my
mind is completely blown. The Spring hardened Steel is the only
metal that made the pin function as a pin. 

Hi Marya.

I don’t think you should worry.

This is from the April 2001 revision of the Federal Trade
Commission’s “Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter
Industries”:

© Exemptions recognized in the industry and not to be considered
in any assay for quality of a silver industry product include screws,
rivets, springs, spring pins for wrist watch straps; posts and
separable backs of lapel buttons; wire pegs, posts, and nuts used
for applying mountings or other ornaments, which mountings or
ornaments shall be of the quality marked; pin stems (e.g., of badges,
brooches, emblem pins, hat pins, and scarf pins, etc.); levers for
belt buckles; blades and skeletons of pocket knives; field pieces and
bezels for lockets; bracelet and necklace snap tongues; any other
joints, catches, or screws; and metallic parts completely and
permanently encased in a nonmetallic covering.

The exemptions listed are similar for items made of gold as well as
for silver in combination with gold. These exemptions are not listed
in the table of contents but appear in the Guide’s appendix.

The complete text can be found at this URL:

HTH
Pam Chott
www.songofthephoenix.com


#11
Still, I stamped the pc "Sterling." I was wrong?!? 

No, I don’t think so. In this case, since the pin stem is not
soldered to the pin but is in fact a separate, detachable component,
it does not figure into the sterling equation. You’re okay.

Beth


#12
    it is not physically attached to the piece at any point, just
pulled through a tube (sterling) and bent. Still, I stamped the pc
"Sterling." I was wrong? 

Hi Marya. The Appendix of the FTC’s Jewelry Guides applies here.
Paragraph © states, in part:

“Exemptions recognized in the industry and not to be considered in
any assay for quality of a silver industry product include screws,
rivets…used for applying mountings or other ornaments, which
mountings or ornaments shall be of the quality marked; pin stems
(e.g., of badges, brooches, emblem pins, hat pins, and scarf pins,
etc.)…”

Apparently, the FTC understands that Sterling Silver isn’t “springy
enough” also. Bear in mind, though, if you are quality stamping your
pieces, you must also stamp them with your trademark or your name,
as printed under Note 2 of Section 23.9.

James in SoFl


#13

Hi Pam,

I was very psyched to see your exerpt of the FTC regulations. Then
I checked the URL and I’m not finding pin stems and catches in the
list of exemptions for karat gold; I do see them in the list of
exemptions for gold filled and platinum in addition to silver. Am I
just not seeing them in the list or does the FTC think gold is hard
enough?

Linda


#14

I was wondering how the customer responds to a nickel or steel
component in the bolo?

J. S. Ellington
jsellington@cs.com


#15
 I  was very psyched to see your exerpt of the FTC regulations.
Then I checked the URL and I'm not finding pin stems and catches in
the list of exemptions for karat gold; I do see them in the list of
exemptions for gold filled and platinum in addition to silver. Am I
just not seeing them in the list or does the FTC think gold is hard
enough? 

Hi Linda.

The short answers: Pin stems and catches are not exempted for karat
gold alloy items. Gold alloys are considered strong enough for such
findings.

In the revised jewelry guides, exemptions to assay for gold alloy
items were expanded to include:

metallic parts completely and permanently encased in a nonmetallic
covering and field pieces and bezels for lockets;

The background and in-depth discussions leading to the revisions
offer better understanding of the regulations and why changes were
made. For instance, you’ll find that the "permanently encased"
metallic parts named above are pearl pegs.

Right now I’m unable to access the server for the PDF file so can’t
give you the specific URL but The Federal Register Notice of these
proceedings can be found by going through:
http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/jewelryjump.htm

On the first screen, you should see this listing: Federal Register
Notices

FTC Revises Guides for Jewelry, Precious Metals and Pewter Industries
(5/30/96)

If you choose the PDF file, see section 8. on (page?) 27194

The text file is more difficult to navigate. Both take a long time to
load!

HTH
Pam Chott
www.songofthephoenix.com