Learn about the nontraditional metals we use in our jewelry. The "quick read" histories of…
History of Copper - Quick Read
Man first used copper over 10,000 years ago. A copper pendant discovered in what is now northern Iraq has been dated about 8,700 B.C. For nearly five millennia, copper was the only metal known to man, and thus had all the metal applications. Early copper artifacts, first decorative, then useful, were undoubtedly hammered out from "native copper," pure copper found in conjunction with copper-bearing ores in a few places around the world. By 5,000 BC, the dawn of metallurgy had arrived, as evidence exists of the smelting of simple copper oxide ores such as malachite and azurite. Not until about 4,000 BC did gold appear on the scene as man's second metal. By 3,000 B.C., silver and lead were being used, and the alloying of copper had begun, first with arsenic and then with tin. Copper is 100% recyclable without any loss of quality, both from raw state and from manufactured products.
History of Pewter - Quick Read
Pewter is an alloy primarily of tin with small amounts of other metals. The lead-free fine pewter we use is an alloy mostly of tin with small amounts of copper and bismuth. Pewter is a metal that is now sometimes unknowingly commonplace, however in the 11th, 12th, 13th, and even up until around the 17th centuries pewter was only available to the wealthy, it became such a valuable metal that the quality of the alloy needed to be controlled like the “other” precious metals of that time. It has a look and feel of silver but can be offered at a reduced price. Pewter usually is 100% recyclable without any loss of quality, both from raw state and from manufactured products, as long as it is not overheated.
History of Brass - Quick Read
After the Copper (Chalcolithic) Age came, the Bronze Age followed later by the Iron Age. There was no 'Brass Age' because, for many years, it was not easy to make brass. Before the 18th century, zinc metal could not be made since it melts and boils below the temperature needed to reduce zinc oxide with charcoal. Only in the last millennium has brass been appreciated as an alloy. Initially, bronze was easier to make using native copper and tin and was ideal for the manufacture of utensils. While tin was readily available for the manufacture of bronze, brass was little used except where its golden color was required. It was used for the production of sesterces coins, and many Romans also liked it mainly for the production of gold-colored helmets. They used grades containing from 11 to 28% zinc to obtain decorative colors of all types for ornamental jewelry. As it became easier to manufacture, machine, and corrosion resistance was seen, brass also became the standard alloy from which were made all accurate instruments such as clocks, watches, and navigational aids. The invention by Harrison of the chronometer in 1761 depended on the use of brass for the manufacture of an accurate timekeeper that won him a grand prize. There are many examples of clocks from the 17th and 18th centuries still in good working order. Like pewter, brass usually is 100% recyclable without any loss of quality, both from raw state and from manufactured products as long as it is not overheated
History of Aluminum - Quick Read
Because of the complexities of refining aluminum from ore, aluminum was considered more rare and precious than gold or silver through most of the 19th century. A pure form of the metal was first successfully extracted from ore in 1825 by Danish chemist Hans-Christian. Techniques to produce aluminum in ways modestly cost-effective emerged in 1889. This lightweight, recyclable metal has since become a foundation of our country’s infrastructure. Used in packaging, automotive, energy, construction, transportation, energy, aerospace, and defense applications, to name a few—aluminum’s impact is so profound that historians may one day look back on our times and declare this “The Age of Aluminum.” Like pewter, it has a look and feel of silver but can be offered at reduced weight and price. Like copper, aluminum is 100% recyclable without any loss of quality, both from raw state and from manufactured products.