Investing in quality jewelry is nice and sometimes necessary, but what about more affordable pieces? People tend to turn to cheaper alternatives to keep up with the trends, but there’s a happy medium between jewelry that turns your fingers green and Cartier.
What am I buying?
Let’s unpack these common categories to understand what makes each of them unique in value and creation. According to CadCamNYC, a New York City-based jeweler, telling the difference between gold finishes is simple. While all of them have a gold layer on the surface, each has their own unique properties and qualities that are telling of their value.
Vermeil: Vermeil jewelry “refers to high quality silver that is plated with a thin layer of gold,” according to CadCamNYC. To be considered a true piece of vermeil jewelry in the United States, the piece must be 2.5 microns thick and at least 10 karats.
Gold Plated: According to CadCamNYC, gold plated jewelry is “brass, copper or a low-end metal electroplated with a thin layer of gold.” This option is cheaper than Vermeil, and it doesn’t have to meet any criteria.
Gold Filled: Gold filled jewelry is categorized by a thick layer of gold over a base metal, like brass. “This makes a big difference in terms of the jewelry’s ability to resist wear and tear long term,” said CadCamNYC.
Costume jewelry: Costume jewelry is less durable, yet more often a trendier piece of statement jewelry. These pieces are often made of brass or aluminum.
How do I care for it?
Jewelry is an important facet of students’ everyday lives. “I love simple jewelry and combining it in layers. I feel like it is the cherry on top of getting ready,” said Maria Emilia Becerra, a junior at the University of Miami. “For me, it’s part of my daily process. It expresses my attitude or mood each day.” So how do you take good care of your jewelry?
Different metals can require different cleaning methods. Simple solvents or even an old toothbrush and soap are best for cleaning and proper storage is vital—make sure to keep pieces separate so they don’t get tangled or scratched. Jewelry should also stay out of the sun and be removed while sleeping.
For cheaper rings containing copper, clear nail polish can be your best friend. You can use it to coat the pieces to prevent oxidization. Removing copper-based jewelry before bathing can also extend the life of your pieces.
Where to Buy
In the market for new jewelry? Check out these two female-owned brands that started their businesses online.
Anna Petricoff, an 18-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina, started making jewelry during the stay-at-home orders last April. Her friends convinced Petricoff to create an Instagram page to sell her pieces. From there, her business, jewels By AKP, took off. “Everything I sell is gold plated, and would be considered costume jewelry,” she said. “This allows me to make a price point that is perfect for my target market, which is high school and college-aged girls.” Petricoff said she loves interacting with shoppers through direct message on Instagram, and recently created a website to drive even more traffic to her brand. “I absolutely love what I do, and I have been lucky enough to create a very successful brand while being a senior in high school!”
Lauren Grace Murphy Designs had a similar start up. Lauren Murphy’s friends convinced her to start an Instagram page for her business, which is now booming. “Soon people from all across my town were reaching out to me about creating a design for them,” she said. Most of Murphy’s items are gold plated to keep cost low, but some of her items are gold filled. “In order to make my items, I buy pendants and chains from my wholesale retailers in bulk amounts and then put them together with my jewelry tools. I do this all at my desk in my bedroom,” Murphy said. After creating a website in January of 2020, her sales have tripled.
words_isabel tragos. photo_daniella pinzon. design_keagan larkins.
This article was published in Distraction’s spring 2021 print issue.