Alternative Jewelry Materials: Natural and Synthetic
Not everything is metal and stone. Other jewelry materials are used to achieve different looks and designs. There is some jewelry made from natural materials, while others are synthetic, being manmade in a laboratory or factory. Here are some alternative materials for jewelry that you may find in the Ross-Simons jewelry collection:
Natural Jewelry Materials
A material made from tanning an animal hide, leather is flexible, durable, and creates a rugged look. Different processes of tanning result in different colors and textures. Leather is used in jewelry to create wrapped or braided cords for necklaces or bracelets, as well as straps for watches.
Found in vintage estate pieces, as well as modern jewelry, bone refers to carvings made from animal bones. It is white to ecru in color and is popularly carved in floral, exotic, or tribal designs.
Silk is a fabric created from natural protein fibers developed by silkworms. It is a highly desirable, lustrous material which is both strong and soft to the touch and typically found in clothing and home accents. In jewelry, it is commonly used to create wrapped cords for necklaces and bracelets.
Wood is a hard, fibrous organic material from the trunk, roots, or branches of a tree. It is used for practical purposes, such as flooring and furniture, as well or ornamentation, such as sculptural carvings and jewelry. Many of our jewelry boxes, flatware chests, and clocks are also made of finished wood.
Synthetic Jewelry Materials
Enamel is a glass-like colored coating which is applied or "painted" over the surface of a piece of metal, ceramic or glass. Enamel is made from powdered glass or an epoxy resin material and can create the look of stained glass or high-gloss paint.
Cloisonne is an enamel process in which thin strips of metal are soldered onto a metal plate to form compartments. Powdered glass is then fired and melted to form glass-filled compartments. Guilloche is another enameling technique, where a design in a metal underlay is flooded with a layer of translucent enamel so that the design underneath shines through. This creates a dramatic, shimmering effect.
Plastic is a synthetic, moldable material made from a variety of polymers. Depending on the material composition and the process, plastic can result in either a rigid shape or a slightly elastic form. Since it is affordable and easy to use, plastic is used in a wide variety of industries, from technology and furniture, to toys and jewelry. Some simulated gemstone jewelry or rigid bracelets may be composed of high quality plastic.
Silicone is a rubber-like synthetic polymer created from silicon combined with other elements or compounds, such as carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. It is quite supple and sometimes used as a core for gold jewelry to provide a lightweight flexibility.
Both Natural and Synthetic
Created from noncrystalline or liquid substances, resin is a moldable material which is both naturally occurring and synthetic. Most synthetic resins are undifferentiated from plastic and when cured, result in a hard and durable object or adhesive. Resin is used in jewelry often to create simulated gemstones or shells, or rigid bracelets. It is also the core of our Andiamo 14kt gold collection, providing a lightweight durability.
Rubber is a resilient, elastic polymer material formed both naturally and synthetically. Rubber is cured into various forms, allowing it to maintain its shape while also having some flexibility. You can find rubber in jewelry and watches, either as a band or as a decorative design element.