One such thing is a new type of sterling silver called ARGENTIUM. What is it? Here is a description:
Argentium is a sterling silver alloy that is 92.5% silver with the remaining content consisting of germanium and copper. Argentium is tarnish resistant and will maintain its silver shine for longer than standard sterling silver.
You can see why I try to use this metal whenever possible. All of my silver earwires are argentium or sterling silver.
Another type of metal I make every effort to use is GOLD FILLED. Why?
Gold-filled jewelry, also known as "rolled gold" or "rolled gold plate" is composed of a solid layer of gold bonded with heat and pressure to a base metal such as brass. Some high quality gold-filled pieces have the same appearance as 14karet (58%) gold. In the USA the quality of gold filled is defined by the US Federal Trade Commission. I use only 14K gold-filled.
This is totally different from gold-plated. The gold layer on gold plated jewelry varies greatly depending on manufacturer, so there is no single, simple comparison. Gold-filled items are 50 to 100,000 times thicker than regular gold plating.
All of my gold earwires are gold-FILLED. That is one reason my earrings are more costly when they are in gold.
NIOBIUM is a metal being used more and more by jewelry designers. I use it for BLACK EARWIRES as I find the the finish more satisfying than gunmetal grey brass, which is what is often used for black. The other quality of niobium that I like is that it is the metal that causes the least reaction in people who are sensitive to metals. If you have an allergy to metals, ask for niobium for your earrings. It comes in many lovely colors and finishes.
The crystals I use are all SWAROVSKI - the best Austrian crystals available. They have more facets and thus are more reflective than cheaper versions. The lead contect (32%) also makes they optically pure and more appealing to the eye. Plus, the colors and coatings they carry are almost unlimited. I dream of owning the entire line of their colors!
My glass beads are ALL handmade lampwork beads by some of the best glass artists in the world. More details on that in a later post!
I hope that answers some of your questions about materials.