Fine Silver: 99.9% pure silver
Sterling Silver: an alloy of 92.5% fine silver, and 7.5% copper
24k Gold = 99.9% pure gold
22K Gold = 92% gold, 10% silver and/or copper
18K Gold = 75% gold, 25% silver, copper, and/or zinc
Shakudo: an alloy of copper and gold (around 4%)
Shibuichi: an alloy of copper and silver
White gold, rose gold, green gold, or other colors of gold are composed of 24K gold and other metals, which change the color of the gold from yellow. Because enough enough copper, palladium, or nickel is needed to achieve a color change, these alloys are always 18K or lower.
Mokume Gane: A laminate technique composed of fused sheets of varying alloys that are hammered, carved, and/or filed to expose a cross section, creating unique patterns. This technique is similar to damascene steel (pictured in photos above).
I repoussé sheets of unpatterned, straight grain mokume and grind the surface afterwards to reveal the resulting cross section of metals.
Bi-Metal: Sheet gold fused to sheet sterling or fine silver. Bi-metal is a formable sheet of metal like any other and nearly as durable as solid sheet gold. It is NOT gold filled, plated, vermeil, kum boo, or gilding. It is an actual sheet of gold backed by a sheet of silver for strength. My use of bi-metal allows me to create larger works that would not only be excessively heavy in gold, their cost would be prohibitive. Pieces using bi-metal are stamped according to karat (18K or 24K) and also stamped sterling and/or fine silver.
I’ve always thought of myself as a metalsmith rather than a jeweler. My work is not about rocks. It is sculptural, and the stones I treat as found objects that bring contrasting color and light into my pieces. I prefer to use stones that are environmentally and politically ethically mined, and hope one day to make a difference in the procurement of precious metals as well.
I love the translucent opals that make me feel like I’m gazing into exotic landscapes or under the sea. With the exception of the brilliantly colored titanium bonded drusies, I tend to stay away from stones that are irradiated or heat or laser treated, preferring color created by nature.
Koroit (Boulder) Opal: These are some of my most favorite. All of the ones I have used so far come from a mine owned by Gene McDevitt in Queensland, Australia. Gene spends about 6 months of the year digging and cutting in the outback then brings them home to the States to taunt us artist types. His cuts are wonderful to work with, and the stones themselves are mesmerizing.
Peruvian Opal: These are some of my other favorites. When held up to the light, they remind me of coral reefs in the Caribbean. They range from clear to green to blue with beautiful dendrites (those ferny things inside), and more and more the pink ones are becoming available as well.
Drusy: These look like a rock split open to reveal a geode. They occur when a layer of quartz naturally forms across one side of another stone, giving those tiny crystalline structures on the surface.
Titanium Bonded Chalcedony Drusy: These stones have a layer of titanium vacuum bonded to the surface. The brilliant color is formed when the titanium is heated. This coloring is permanent and very durable. When I go for stones that have been treated, I go for the ones that have been REALLY messed with.
Dolomite: Is similar to drusies in look but is a calcium magnesium carbonate that on rare occasions manifests in spectacular, naturally occurring, bright pink shades. Like drusies, it has a visible a crystalline structure on the top.
Pearls: I use primarily freshwater pearls, including Biwa pearls, which come from lake Biwa in Japan and are easily identified by the oval or teardrop shapes and the characteristic banding around the middle. Some of the pearl colors occur without any enhancement (white, cream, pale pink, gray). The more unusual colors come from mussels and oysters that have been treated to produce nacre of a specific color. The color goes all the way through the pearl. I NEVER use any DYED pearls. Because of the demand, all pearls are cultured or farmed now.