As more and more people seek for something different and bespoke instead of the mass produced, the handmade market is growing fast. Nowadays, with so much on offer, the competition is vast and makers have to try harder to attract their audience. However, marketing your Handmade products is no simple task and sometimes can cause confusion to buyers.
In this article I will explain some of the terms used in the handmade metal Jewellery marketing industry and how they can be misleading for both buyers and makers.
When buying metal jewellery, (no matter if they are handmade or mass produced) it's good to be aware of a few things.
- All edges of metal jewelry should be rounded and smooth to be safe to wear including the tips of ear wires (ear hooks).
-Metal jewellery that is made from ferrous metals and their alloys will develop rust (with the exception of stainless steel). Easiest way to detect this is to use a magnet. Non ferrous metals shouldn't stick to it!
-If you experience a skin allergy from wearing metal jewellery avoid alloys that contain Nickel as this has been proven to be the one. Ask the seller to provide you with information about the metal alloys that have been used.
THE TERM "HANDMADE"
Metal Jewellery should only be described as Handmade, when all parts and components are processed by hand or manually controlled methods. Using factory-made components in jewellery described as Handmade is considered to be "unfair and deceptive" according to the Federal Trade Commission (Guides for the Jewellery, Precious Metals and Pewter Industries).
A suitable term for such jewellery products should be Hand Assembled.
"JEWELLERY GRADE COPPER"
When I first found this on the Internet I started wondering: What is Jewellery Grade Copper? My instinct was telling me that this was nothing more than a marketing trick aimed at makers and I was subsequently proven correct! After some research I did, I found no information on Specifications that "Jewellery Grade Copper" should comply with, like "Electrical Wire Grade Copper" does (C11000, 99.5% purity).
The only references I came across were from Craft Suppliers and some Jewellery Makers who apparently thought they were buying the finest quality!
In a few words:
Copper jewellery should simply be made of Copper
and all jewellery should be of "Jewellery Grade"
Nickel Silver is another term that could cause confusion to buyers. This alloy contains no Silver element. Nickel Silver consists of 60% Copper, 20% Nickel and 20% Zinc. "Silver" only describes it's color.
Other names for Nickel (or Nikel) Silver are: Argentan, Albata, Alpacca, Electrum, Mailechort, German Silver, New Silver, Peruvian Silver, Alaskan Silver etc.
EPNS stands for "Electroplated Nickel Silver" which means that Nickel Silver is plated by Electrolysis with Silver.
If you are seeking real Silver make sure it's described as Sterling or Argentium Silver (not Argentan!) and it should be 925/1000 purity. Coin Silver should be about 900/1000 purity. Fine Silver is a synonym for Pure Silver (999/1000).
Adjectives other than these should make you suspicious of the Silver content and remember that all Silver should be marked!
When buying Handmade, Make sure you understand what's on offer.
If you're not sure, don't hesitate to contact the seller to ask questions and clarify matters.
Always try to buy direct from an artist. Artists are not companies, try and support a creative mind!
All artists want you to be satisfied with their work.
Don't find intention in other people's mistakes.