Frequently Asked Questions
What is silver clay?
Metal clay is a material which starts out looking like pale clay or putty. It is made from silver that is reclaimed from the photographic, computer and other industries and mixed with an organic, non-toxic binder to form the clay. The clay can be moulded, carved and shaped in about as many ways as it is possible to think of. This makes it an incredibly versatile form of silver to work with creatively. Once the clay has been shaped, refined and dried thoroughly it can then be fired to burn away the binder and to get the silver particles to sinter together to for the piece.
Is silver jewellery from silver clay real silver?
Definitely! And, like any other silver, pieces above a certain weight, pieces are required by law to be sent to one of the Assay Offices for testing and hallmarking. You can read the legal requirements about hallmarking here. I often also send smaller pieces for hallmarking too even if not legally required.
What the difference between fine silver and Sterling silver?
Fine silver is 99.9% pure silver (sometime referred to 999 silver). This purity means that fine silver only develops minimal tarnish, staying shiny for longer before needing a clean. The disadvantage of the purity is that it is softer than less pure making it less suitable for many uses, including some types of jewellery such as bangles and rings.
To overcome the disadvantages of fine silver, Sterling silver is often used. Sterling silver is silver alloyed with copper: 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper(Sterling silver is also referred to as 925 silver).
The advantages of Sterling is that it is harder and more durable and most commonly available silver jewellery you see will be sterling silver.
The disadvantage of sterling silver is that the added copper results in it tarnishing more easily. That’s why many silver items made with Sterling silver turn dark brown or black over time if not cleaned regularly – especially when in humid environments. That said, Sterling silver is easy to clean and will still be in great condition as the tarnish isn’t damaging.
For these reasons, although I make most of my jewellery in fine silver, I use Sterling silver for parts needing more strength such as earring wires and posts, brooch pins and beading wire.
What are your environmental considerations?
As mentioned above, I use reclaimed silver rather than newly extracted silver, and that is in an environmentally-friendly clay. When firing, I have the smallest kiln possible which has a low energy consumption, and I fire as many pieces at one time as I can.
To patina pieces I use a substance which, once neutralised at the end of the process, can be used for plant food – and I use this in my garden.
Packaging: Traditional jewellery packaging is not environmentally friendly and I am currently sourcing eco-friendly packaging to ensure that, as soon as possible, every part of my packaging is recyclable and/or compostable. However, until then I am currently using a mix of materials: the boxes themselves are recyclable once the sticker and foam insert are removed (though I recommend you keep the box for safe storage of your jewellery). If you receive your order in a padded bag, please reuse or separate the plastic and paper components and recycle both (check with your local authority for bubble wrap recycling). The ribbon can be recycled with other textile recycling. This situation is temporary and I will begin to use the new packaging as soon as it becomes available.
Do you do commissions?
I do sometimes accept commissions for pieces which are in my style. In particular, I do commissions of leaf jewellery and am currently researching ways of being able to receive leaf samples via the post or courier for those who want a memento of particular favourite plant. I can also do commissions for leaves with different colour stones to those on the website, if I am able to get hold of the species of plant wanted. If you want to know more about this type of commission, please contact me to find out if I can help.
Do you do repairs?
I don't do general repairs. You would be best contact a local jewellers who have a specialist repairs service, if you have any jewellery which needs repairing or size adjustment.