One of the many differences between fashion and fine jewelry are the materials, especially the metals that are used. Unlike fine jewelry, which is traditionally made of gold, silver and platinum alloys (called noble metals); base metals are used in fashion jewelry.
A base metal is a metal that corrodes and oxidizes easily. It is commonly used in opposition to noble metals. The most commonly used base metals are copper (Cu), tin (Sn), zinc (Zn), nickel (Ni), rhodium (Rh), iron (Fe), titan (Ti), and lead (Pb).
Just like noble metals, base metals are most commonly used as composing alloys. There are some base metals that are used in almost every alloy because of their solid properties. One of these base metals is nickel, which helps alloys develop durability.
Alloys used in fashion jewelry are often plated with several different metal alloys in order to further develop the jewelry's properties. After plating, their color and surface properties are usually different. Nickel is almost always present in plating alloys, but occasionally rhodium is used in its place. Nickel and rhodium are used to harden the jewelry's surface and to help prevent tarnishing.
Our earwires are made of niobium, a metal that doesn't need the assistance of other metals to form an alloy. Originally, niobium is dark grey in color, but we sell earrings with brass and bronze colored earwires as well. These earwires are not colored by plating, but by another electrical process, making them 100 % nickel-free and hypoallergenic for your safety.