Guide to Metals
We make our jewellery and rings in sterling silver, various golds, palladium and platinum. Each metal has its own special properties and character.
We use high quality 925 sterling silver. The number 925 refers to the metal fineness mark stamped on our silver jewellery by the Edinburgh Assay Office. It is an independent guarantee of quality and is found on all our pieces of silver weighing over 7.78g.
Lighter pieces do not have this mark so do not be concerned if you do not see the 925 mark on some of your jewellery or rings. We can assure you all our jewellery and rings are made of the same high-quality sterling silver.
It is, however, much softer than these metals and can become scratched if you are not careful. Most scratches can be polished out but for this reason silver is not normally chosen for wedding rings. Couples who would like white rings usually opt for white gold, palladium or platinum, all of which are harder and more scratch-resistant.
Silver requires regular care as it can also tarnish or oxidise or leave a mark on your skin. This is due to the other metals used in the silver alloy rather than the silver itself. The 925 fineness mark verifies that the silver is 92.5% pure with the remaining 7.5% made of other metals, known as base metals. Copper is the main metal used in sterling silver alloys. The base metals make silver strong enough to wear, as pure silver is relatively soft, but they can react with the atmosphere and with your skin.
Try gold or platinum if you find silver reacts adversely to your skin, and if your jewellery becomes discoloured follow our Care of Your Jewellery tips.
Sterling Silver & Enamel
We use the same 925 sterling silver in our silver & enamel jewellery and rings. Silver with vibrant enamels creates a really amazing effect and is one of our specialities. Sheila has created a wonderful range of enamel colourways from neutral Crystal, Ivory and Ice colours through yellows & oranges, blues & greens, pinks & reds. Find out more in our Guide to Enamels.
Enamel does not discolour or fade and it also protects the silver below meaning the silver metal needs to be cleaned less frequently.
Although enamel is reasonably hard wearing it still needs to be treated with a degree of care. Silver & enamel rings should not be worn next to rings on the adjacent finger or abrasion may damage the enamel. We’ve also had instances of rings being affected when clapping at a concert or wedding; if you are wearing rings on both hands take care not to knock one ring against the other.
As with all precious metal jewellery and rings, silver & enamel pieces should not be dropped on stone floors or hard surfaces and we would also advise taking off silver & enamel rings for outdoor sports, gardening or manual activities that include lifting heavy objects such as a table.
Gold is available in different degrees of purity, known as carats. The higher the carat, the more gold in your jewellery. For example, 24 carat gold is considered to be pure gold.
Gold is most commonly available in the UK as 9 carat (over a third pure gold at 37.5%) and 18 carat (three-quarters pure gold at 75%) and these are the gold carats we use for our jewellery and rings. Other metals are used to make an alloy which strengthens the gold and makes it more durable to wear.
As well as different purity of golds we also offer our gold in three colours: yellow gold, white gold and rose gold.
We are honoured to be able to offer Scottish Gold. Sheila Fleet was chosen as one of only two jewellers authorised to receive Scottish Gold from the Cononish Gold Mine near Tyndrum in the West of Scotland. Our Scottish Gold is available in 18 carat only. Find out more on our dedicated Scottish Gold page.
Yellow gold has been coveted and treasured for centuries and is the only type of gold found naturally in the earth. To create 9ct or 18ct yellow gold, pure natural gold is mixed with other metals, mainly silver and copper. This creates an alloy which is harder than pure gold.
The metals added to yellow gold make it harder, more resistant to scratching and denting as well as adding to the overall appearance. 9ct gold contains more silver and copper than 18ct gold giving 9ct yellow gold a slightly different colour to the more yellow colour of 18ct gold.
18ct gold is often chosen for ladies’ engagement rings as it has a higher gold content than lower carats. It has a sumptuous feel and tends to look better than 9ct as it ages. 9ct yellow gold has been the classic choice for wedding bands for generations.
Reactions to the alloy metals found in 9ct and 18ct yellow gold are much less common than with sterling silver jewellery. If you have any issues with tarnishing or any skin irritation with yellow gold, try 18 carat white gold or platinum.
This metal does not occur naturally but is made by adding either silver or palladium to yellow gold.
9ct white gold is an alloy of yellow gold and silver while 18ct white gold is yellow gold mixed with palladium to give a rich, creamy colour slightly darker than paler white of 9ct white gold. The palladium also makes 18ct white gold more resilient to wear and tear than 9ct white gold.
Both 9ct and 18ct white gold can be rhodium plated to produce an even whiter finish. At Sheila Fleet we do not rhodium-plate rings as standard, but this can be done for a small extra charge. Applying a plating of rhodium gives rings a nice lustre, but the plating may need to be replaced during the lifetime of the ring. White gold rings are ideal for those who prefer silver to gold jewellery, but want a more durable and hard-wearing wedding ring.
Like white gold, rose gold does not occur naturally but is created by adding copper and silver to yellow gold. The warm blush of rose gold comes from its copper content. Very popular in the 19th century, rose gold is once again gracing the catwalk and fashion magazines. We offer rose gold in 9ct purity. Call us if you do not see a rose gold option but would like the design made in this beautiful metal.
Scottish Gold comes from the Cononish Gold Mine, located in remote hills in the West of Scotland, and is mined by Scotgold Resources. We offer Scottish Gold in yellow, white and rose gold, and at 18ct purity only.
Scottish Gold is extremely limited so please contact us if you would like to own and cherish a Sheila Fleet designer ring in this unique precious metal. Mined, designed and made in Scotland. Find out more on our dedicated Scottish Gold page or contact Maureen Moar on +44 1856 861 203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Palladium and Platinum
Palladium and platinum are harder, heavier in weight than silver or gold, and are purer. They will not tarnish over time, and are very durable, but will develop a natural, beautiful patina over time due to everyday wear. Both are recommended if you have sensitive skin. At 95% purity they have a very low content of other metals and are hypo-allergic. Both are rarer than gold and more expensive but will last a lifetime and beyond.
This metal is slightly lighter in colour than platinum and holds a magnificent polish. It is also less heavy (dense) than platinum.
This is the rarest, most precious metal and is highly desirable. Platinum’s density also makes it the heaviest metal to wear and it polishes to an incredible white shine.
Jewellery over a certain weight made in precious metals must be hallmarked by law. If your piece of jewellery is made in gold, palladium or platinum it will carry a hallmark as the threshold weights for hallmarking are very low at 1g or less. However, it is quite possible to have silver jewellery which is not hallmarked as pieces under 7.78g are exempt.
A hallmark is your guarantee of quality. It can only be applied by an independent Assay Office and consists of three symbols: the maker’s mark, the metal fineness mark and the Assay Office Mark.
Sheila’s jewellery carries the maker’s mark SD rather than SF as it was granted to her by the Edinburgh Assay Office under her maiden name, Sheila Dearness. Every piece carries Sheila’s SD mark.
The metal fineness mark indicates the type of metal and its purity. The shape of the mark defines the type of metal and the number within the shape guarantees that the precious metal content of the piece of jewellery or ring is not less than the fineness indicated.
Finally, your piece will carry the Assay Office Mark. Sheila sends all jewellery pieces requiring a hallmark to the Edinburgh Assay Office for hallmarking with EAO’s recognisable castle emblem. For more information on hallmarks see the Edinburgh Assay Office’s Guide to Hallmarking.
If you have any queries about your hallmark or the metal used in your Sheila Fleet jewellery please get in touch.
Our textured Matrix rings are available in a range of beautiful precious metals and make wonderful wedding bands