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STERLING SILVER
Pure silver, also called fine silver, is relatively soft, very malleable, and easily damaged so it is commonly combined with other metals to produce a more durable product. The most popular of these alloys is sterling silver, which consists of 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent copper. Although any metal can make up the 7.5 percent non-silver portion of sterling, centuries of experimentation have shown copper to be its best companion, improving the metal's hardness and durability without affecting its beautiful color. The small amount of copper added to sterling has very little effect on the metal's value. Instead, the price of the silver item is affected by the labor involved in making the item, the skill of the craftsperson, and the intricacy of the design.

QUALITY STAMP
Most high quality silver items are stamped with a "fineness" or "quality" mark. This mark designates the precious metal content of the jewelry, and under federal law, must be accompanied by a maker's mark or registered trademark. Sterling silver is most often used for jewelry because of its combination of beauty and durability. Acceptable quality marks for sterling silver include: sterling, sterling silve, ster, .925.


CARE AND CEANING
With proper care, your fine quality silver will last a lifetime. To minimize scratches and other damage, store your silver jewelry either in a cloth pouch or in a separate compartment in your jewelry box. Avoid exposing your silver to household chemicals when cleaning with bleach or ammonia, or when swimming in chlorinated water, as these chemicals can damage silver. 

Care should also be taken to prevent silver tarnish build-up, a dulling that naturally occurs when silver reacts with sulfur or hydrogen sulfide in the ambient air. To clean your silver, use polishes formulated specifically to remove tarnish. You can find fine silver polishes, solutions, or cloths appropriate to remove tarnish at most hardware stores or specialty craft stores. Tarnish is most easily removed when it first becomes visible. 

Although wearing your silver jewelry often is the best way to prevent tarnish from building up, regular cleanings of all your silver items will prevent tarnish and keep your silver bright and sparkling.


GOLD

PURITY
Pure gold is too soft to withstand the stresses of every-day wear, so it is alloyed with a mixture of metals like silver, copper, nickel, and zinc to give it strength and durability. Karatage, noted by a number followed by "k" indicates purity, or how much of the metal in a piece of jewelry is gold. Karatage is expressed in 24ths, making 24k gold 100% gold. All Charlotte Ehinger-Schwarz 1876 jewelry is 18k or 24k. Gold won't tarnish, rust, or corrode, and though it's very strong, it is also the most malleable of all metals.


COLOR
The color of gold is determined by two factors:
 -The type of metal alloys included in it
 -The percentage of each metal alloy

At Charlotte Ehinger-Schwarz 1876, you'll find only 18k and 24k yellow gold. 18k gold is composed of 75% gold, which is alloyed with other metals to make it strong enough to withstand every-day wear. Keep your gold jewelry away from harsh chemicals such as chlorine and cleaning fluids. This will reduce daily abrasions and prolong gold's luster. To clean gold jewelry, use a solution of warm water and detergent-free soap and wash gold gently with a soft-bristled brush (a dull tooth brush works well). Store gold pieces separately in soft cloth bags or original boxes to protect them from the exposure to harsh daily elements.

 

PLATINUM
The most appealing characteristic of platinum is its durability. Each time other metals are scratched or polished, a tiny bit of metal is lost. In fact eventually, prongs of yellow gold may wear down enough that you need to have them reinforced with more metal for safety. But not with platinum. A scratch in platinum may leave a mark on the metal, but this metal is so strong that it will not readily chip or splinter. While it is the strongest of jewelry metals, it can scratch and develop a patina of wear. Many people prefer this look, unique to platinum. But if you like the shine, a jeweler can polish your jewelry to bring back the original reflective finish. In the mean time, buffing with a soft cloth can give your jewelry renewed luster. All of our platinum jewelry is 95 percent pure platinum combined with 5 percent iridium, palladium, ruthenium or other alloys. For guaranteed quality in platinum, look for the marks 950 Plat or Plat. Soaking platinum in a mild solution of soap and warm water and gently scrubbing it with a soft-bristled brush is usually all that is required to maintain the metal's luster.

 

PALLADIUM
It was discovered in platinum ores in 1803, and named after the asteroid Pallas by William Hyde Wollaston. Palladium is more and more used as a precious metal in jewelry, as replacement for platinum or white gold. Palladuim is our answer to white gold. We experienced very good results in our jewelry and use it in our collection and custom-made jewelry.

 

STAINLESS STEEL 
After first producing our Tipit and Charlotte 21 rings in silver, we developed them in stainless steel. Their visible steel character makes an excellent base for interchangeable pieces – stainless steel is strong and it resists pressure without damaging the structural integrity of the ring. This is why all Charlotte 21 technical parts are manufactured in stainless steel, even the technical parts in gold rings. We also provide black stainless steel, which is hardened on the surface. The conversion of stainless steel into magnetite during hardening is a special process. Magnetite is an iron compound and is 20 times harder than stainless steel. On rare occasions, this surface can corrode and show traces of wearing. If this occurs, we will exchange the customer’s ring.

 

CULTURED PEARLS
Natural pearls are so rare to find in nature that most pearls sold today are cultured. To create a cultured pearl, a tiny bead is implanted into the oyster and gradually over time the oyster coats the bead in many layers of natural minerals and proteins. These layers are referred to as nacre (Nay-Ker.) It is the nacre that gives pearls their beautiful luster and color.  

 

QUALITY 
While industry wide there is no standardized grading for pearls, Charlotte Ehinger-Schwarz ensures that each pearl meets their high quality standards.

 

COLOR 
The general color of a pearl is also called the body color. Typical pearl colors are white, cream, yellow, pink, silver, or black. A pearl can also have a hint of secondary color, or overtone, which is seen when light reflects off the pearl surface. 

 

LUSTER 
Pearls produce an intense, deep shine called luster. This effect is created when light reflects off the many layers of tiny calcium carbonate crystals that compose the pearl. This substance is called nacre. When selecting a pearl, consider that the larger the pearl, the more nacre it has, so it will also exhibit even more luster. The difference in luster is as clearly visible as the difference in the pearl sizes.   

 

SHAPE
Shapes that are not spherical or even symmetrical are considered lower quality. Akoya, Tahitian, and South Sea pearls found in jewelry have a tendency to be the roundest, while Freshwater pearls can be oval or slightly off-round.
 

SURFACE MARKINGS
As a mollusk creates a pearl, the layers of nacre do not always adhere smoothly. Sometimes spots and bubbles can appear in the layering process. Pearls with the smoothest surfaces are the highest-quality, most sought-after pearls.   
 

SIZE 
The size of the pearl greatly depends on the type of pearl. Freshwater pearls range in size from about 3.0–7.0mm, Akoya pearls range from about 6.0–8.5mm, and South Sea and Tahitian pearls can reach sizes as large as 13mm.  

 

CARE
When cared for properly, pearls can last a lifetime. The best way to care for pearls is to wear them often as the body’s natural oils keep pearls lustrous. However, it's important to keep them away from household chemicals including perfume, makeup and hairspray. Chemicals found in these common products can dull the luster of your pearls. It is recommended that you put your pearls on last when getting ready and make them the first thing you take off when you come home. Before putting your pearls away, wipe them with a soft cloth and store them separate from other jewelry to avoid scratching their tender surfaces.

 

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