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August 24, 2020

Update #




minute read

Chains are a big part of Noti. They affect how the jewellery sits against your chest and can even change how it looks depending on the link size, length, and gauge of wire used. There is also some personal opinion in what looks best, for example, I’m always chasing minimalism and simple shapes, whereas Emma prefers a bit more flair or even a more classic look.

But personal opinions aside, the most important decision we needed to make in choosing the main accessory in the box (or tin) with every Noti was the material.

Chains come in a range of different materials at different price points. With pure 24ct gold at the higher end of the scale, and a mish mash of metals that are coated or painted at the other end. Obviously there will be a huge quality difference in the look at feel of these materials, but there are other side effects such as skin irritation and durability that come along with cheaping out on chain material.

A note on plated materials - Plated jewellery generally has a pretty bad rap, and for a good reason. We automatically think of the green fingers or itchy ear lobes that are caused by our skin being exposed to the cheaper metals below the plating once it has worn away. However, pure gold or even pure silver jewellery is actually quite rare; because it is extremely expensive. Most jewellery manufacturers, such as Pandora or Swarovski, actually coat or plate their jewellery. The reason these more expensive pieces don’t wear and cause the same irritation or durability issues is due to the plating thickness. For example, a cheap plating is usually fractions of a micron (one thousanth of a millimeter) thick. Once you begin to go over one micron in thickness the plating becomes much harder to wear. If the plating is between 2.5 and 5 microns, it then becomes classified as a ‘vermeil’ which is a very high quality coating that is very hard to wear. For Noti, we have used the best possible coating at 5 microns thick!

Noti itself is a precision machined block of brass which has a vermeil (very thick coating) of various precious metals. We’ll get into this in another update, but the result is a piece of jewellery which not only looks and feels great, but is very durable! For us, this needed to be replicated in whatever chain material we were going to choose, and there was only one way for us to decide, we had to order a whole load of chains and check them all out. So below we’ve broken down what we learned by looking at chains made from three different materials;

  • Steel plated - These are the cheapest chains we looked at, however, we didn’t look at them for very long. Although steel is quite strong and has a nice weight to it, it has a very ‘bright’ tone of colour which comes through to the plated material on top. This completely threw off the colour matching between our smart pendant and the chain. On top of this, steel is a very cheap material, and because of this, we saw a lot of corner cutting in the manufacturing methods used and the plating thickness. Overall a very easy no for us.
  • Brass plated chains - We had quite high hopes for this type of chain as brass is the same base metal we have used in Noti. However, there is one key difference between Noti and the plated brass chains we saw - a nickel layer. You see, when some metals are plated, over time, the core metal and the surface metal will diffuse into one another. Nickel does not do this, which is why sometimes materials like brass are first coated with nickel and then coated with the final precious metal; such as gold. The brass chains we got did not have this nickel layer and it made a real difference. The coatings wore off very easily and the chains began to look dirty and corroded. On top of this, brass is a lot lighter than some other materials, which caused the chains to have a ‘cheap’ feel when held. Overall, again an easy no.
  • Sterling silver plated chains - By the time we had gotten to testing some plated sterling silver chains, they felt like a godsend! Here the base material is sterling silver, which is a mix of metals, but around 90% silver. This is a much more expensive option, but it really shows. The look and feel of the chains were exactly what we wanted. I think that this is probably also helped by the material cost, because the loops seemed to be cut much more precisely and the plating was considerable thicker. This was the one!

If you want to see some more about plating and how we tested the coatings used for Noti itself keep an eye out for our next update!

Ben Lindsay

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