Want gold jewellery but can't afford it? Plated jewellery can be a beautiful, and cheaper alternative to the real thing and is becoming increasingly popular.
Jewellery plating involves applying a thin layer of a precious metal - usually either silver, gold or platinum - over a base of less-precious metal. The result is a piece of jewellery that has the appearance of solid gold but doesn't carry the high price tag.
To the naked eye, plated jewellery is almost completely discernible from the real thing, making it a perfect and undetectable alternative to solid gold jewellery. It is also available in a range of colours and designs from bold, statement pieces, to fine, subtle chains.
Plated jewellery isn't without its disadvantages, though. The quality of plated jewellery is significantly reduced in comparison to real jewellery made with precious metals. Plated jewellery is less able to withstand the wear and tear of everyday life and the chemicals in perfume and water can cause the thin plating of precious metal to flake off. Another disadvantage is that on contact with the skin the plating can also leave a distinctive green hue on the skin.
Image courtesy of John Kasawa at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
What could be more precious than a handmade, sentimental piece of jewellery? Handmade jewellery often features beautiful beads, glass and rope instead of precious metals and gems, but can be just as beautiful - and often more meaningful.
Heard of cubic zirconia? Of course, you have. Cubic zirconia looks like diamonds but doesn't come with the hefty designer price tag that accompanies real stones. Cubic zirconia is a man-made material that's hard (measuring a respectable 8 on the Mohs hardness scale), flawless and usually colourless - but they are available in a wide variety of colours to mimic sapphires, rubies and emeralds as well as diamonds. To the naked eye, there is very little difference between a diamond and a cubic zirconia and, as such cubic zirconia has been diamonds' biggest rivals since they were first manufactured in the 1900s.
In recent years, though, a new rival has emerged - synthesised moissanite. Moissanite is quickly replacing diamonds as the favoured stone for engagement rings for those on a tight budget, on account of its affordability, clarity, and hardness. Moissanite stones measure an impressive 9.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, a mere 0.5 less than a true diamond. Watch out diamonds!
If you're still looking for a genuine piece of affordable jewellery, your best bet will probably be to avoid the high-street jewellers and search somewhere a little less mainstream.
Jewellery auctions are treasure troves, offering tantalising, timeless jewels without the designer price tags. The items on sale are usually second-hand and come complete with their own stories and histories that make them extra special.
So here are some ways of making jewellery more affordable, I hope you enjoy reading!