Thread: Surgical steel
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Old 04-11-2013, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by liz.jewels View Post
Do you mean that it's virtually impossible to make costume/fashion jewelry "nickel free?" Nickel is often used as a finish coating over jeweler's brass to help it look like silver and keep it shiny, but some of the nicer costume/fashion companies use rhodium instead.

While a few jewelry companies do put a coating on sterling silver jewelry to keep it from tarnishing, this is almost always rhodium and not nickel (although there might be nickel under the rhodium to help it adhere better). And higher-end companies usually do not coat jewelry, but instead use machine polishing or oxidation to create a nice finish to the piece.

The problem with coating is that when it wears off, you have to re-dip the piece, which can be expensive. If you have sterling silver that is polished, you can just clean it and you are back to like-new shinyness.

I know my company's sterling silver jewelry is nickel free, as the 7.5% of our alloy that is not silver is copper and zinc. Just want to clarify what you meant...
What Harriett stated is correct. With the exception of sterling silver, it is very hard to make jewelry that is completely nickel free. Since lia sophia is one of the nicer fashion jewelry companies, we use 2 mils of rhodium on our pieces. But the process to make fashion jewelry is different than sterling silver. The brass or white metal is coated in a binding solution that contains nickel. The nickel is not just esential to keep the finish shiny but even more importantly to help the rhodium adhere. You will find that companies that coat in rhodium and use a nickel flash will have a really good warrenty due to the fact that the nickel helps the rhodium adhere and last.
The rhodium also normally cover so well that nickel can not escape from underneith the coating. I have found in my 6 years with lia sophia that most of my nickel allergy women do great with our rhodium plated pieces.
Now, some companies will use a cobalt binding solution. While cobalt does not normally cause allergies, it does not work nearly as well as a binder. The rhodium or gold plating willl not normally stay adhered as well as with the nickel solution. So most that use cobalt do not have a great guarantee.
Some women with extreme nickel allergies can not wear surgical steel nor anything under 18K gold as there is nickel in all surgical steel and sometimes in lower K gold.
I think that lia sophia is now using the term "nickel safe" because of the surgical steel. 100% of our line should be nickel safe by fall. I will find out more at conference.
As always, sterling is nickel free but not cost effective to use in large heavy fashion pieces.
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