Different Textures of Sterling Silver Findings
There are many different textures of sterling silver findings that are popular in North American jewellery designs. The main categories are: high polish, brushed, hammered, antique, and blackened. Preference largely depends on the “signature look” of the individual designer, however, there are also regional preferences.
High Polish Sterling Silver Findings
Some call it high polish, but others call it shiny. High polish is usually the most expensive texture finish to produce in sterling silver findings. This is because it requires more labour to make sure the piece is made well. High polish does not hide flaws in the craftsmanship, in fact, it accentuates soldering flaws and pits in the sterling silver findings. Although you pay for what you get, I find largely that Mexican high polish silver is poorly made; likewise with Indian sterling silver findings. However, their brushed findings are better. Perhaps that is largely because of this specific reason. High polish requires more polishing time compared to satin brushed and hammered. It is said that shiny sterling silver findings and sterling silver jewellery are more popular in large cities like Toronto, New York City & Los Angeles. I’m not sure about this and there are dangers in over generalizing, but it is not untrue. North American, Thai, and now, Chinese factories can do very good satin finish sterling silver findings.
Brushed Sterling Silver Findings
The Sterling Silver brushed texture can be largely broken down into satin brushed and brushed. Satin, for short, means a very fine wheel or “00” fine grain steel wool was used to create it. There are no discernible file marks. It’s an elegant finish, and is my personal favorite. Tarnishing is a problem because it is not possible to put a protective coating on the sterling silver findings with this finish and maintain the satin look. However, these sterling silver findings can be easily cleaned by simply brushing the pieces again with the steel wool. This finish is very popular in the mid-west and most west coastal regions.
Hammered Sterling Silver Findings
The Hammered Sterling Silver texture can be made using a die press with a pre-fabricated texture design. You can make certain textures with a hammer, or it can be imitated by carving little marks in the casting wax model of the sterling silver findings. I like this because it has an organic feel to it. Hammered sterling silver findings are also versatile to design with. It can easily be oxidized and relieved for an interesting effect. This texture hides soldering and casting pit flaws very well. It is less expensive to create than high polish and lends itself to many possibilities. For Sterling Silver findings, and Gold Vermeille findings, this finish is best when it is in a heavy brushed or hammered finish. Indian manufacturers do a very good job of producing the hammered effect for Sterling Silver and Gold Vermeille products.
Antique Sterling Silver Findings
The antique finish is similar to blackened silver, but with an added step of relieving some of the blackening by doing a light polish or tumbling of the sterling silver finding. You can see further comments and steps involved in Oxidized Sterling Silver article. This finish lends a romantic, old world charm effect to the jewellery. It is popular in western jewellery and less popular in Asia. Many countries make antique sterling silver findings well, most notably Indonesian and Isreali factories.
Blackened Sterling Silver Findings
Blackened means just that: black. It was very popular in North America in the mid-1990’s, but has since lost presences and designers have moved back towards the antique finish. There are still some jewellery designers who like this finish, but they tend to be edgier or more alternative for sterling silver. However, black metal jewellery is still prevalent in the costume jewellery market.