Understanding ND Pewter & Plating

It is important to us at Nunn Design that we are able to stand behind our product line. When you work as intimately with your customers as we do at Nunn Design, it is our relationships that drive us to be the very best we are able.

Nunn Design products are handcrafted in the United States by teams of generational craftsmen. The quality and innovation of the Nunn Design Findings are what sets our brand apart from other findings companies.

In order for you to really be able to compare apples to apples, we are as transparent as possible about how our products are produced.

The intention of this post is to help you to be educated on the products you are using for your jewelry creations and for you to be able to be transparent with your customers about their purchases.

So, let’s get started!

Nunn Design Cast Pewter

The quality of the Nunn Design Cast Findings is what sets our brand apart from other pewter castings. Our items are only cast in the United States of America using the pewter alloy NL7.  This alloy’s constituents consist of 95.75% Tin, 2% Antimony, .25% Copper and 2.00% Bismuth. The higher percentage of tin has always been the hallmark that indicates higher quality pewter alloys.

Lead Content
All pure Tin metal has a trace of Lead, but not all Tin ingot is the same. Our US casting alloy manufacturer only buys 0.005 Low Lead Tin to make the Nunn Design alloys. This Tin alloy is known in the industry as Lead-Free and has an extremely low trace amount of impurities. This is the same purity Tin used to coat the inside of your canned goods sitting in your kitchen cabinet.   Nunn Design uses this high-quality Tin to make pewter castings allowing us to be in compliance with ASTM F2923-11.  According to best industry practices, the terminology of “lead-free” is used to describe the metal content of the Nunn Design pewter castings.

Conflict Minerals Act
The 95.75% of tin that makes up NL7 pewter is mined in Peru.  It is the intention of our suppliers to continue to drive its supply base to a completely DRC-Conflict Free status and to be able to provide information from its mines in Peru and Bolivia with respect to the Conflict Minerals Act.

California Proposition 65
Products offered for sale by Nunn Design, including the full line of cast pewter designs, do not require labeling under Proposition 65. As of November 1, 2011, all chemicals present in products sold by Nunn Design are either not listed in Tables A (22 CCR 12705) or Table B (22 CCR 12805), or are present in such small trace quantities so as to qualify as exempt from labeling under the Safe Harbor provision of the Act.

“If an exposure subject to the Act can be shown to be less than the specific regulatory level, the responsible person has “safe harbor” from the warning requirement and discharge prohibition.”
Proposition 65 – Development of Safe Harbor Levels, February 2001

Nunn Design Brass Findings

Nunn Design bangles, bead caps, ear wires, earrings, findings, jump rings, and rings are crafted in the United States of America from solid brass and plated in the same process as our cast findings. Please see product details for specific information.

Nunn Design Plating

Nunn Design Findings are electroplated using precious metals; copper, 24k gold and .999 fine silver. The process of plating is very involved and requires many steps. Each painstaking step is what adds to the quality that Nunn Design is known for. All of the Nunn Design Findings are plated in the USA.

Here is an outline of the steps that we meticulously execute to achieve the standards that you have come to expect.

Nunn Design Plating Steps:
Once the lead-free pewter findings are cast and the brass findings formed, the findings are placed in large lead-free tumblers with pre-finishing mediums and tumbled thoroughly. This process allows for smoothing of the edges and surfaces of all the findings and thus easier to plate.

2. Next, the findings are thoroughly washed to remove any dirt and oil in preparation for the electrolytic solution baths that they will be placed in. Electroplating is a process where the findings are placed into an electrolytic solution within a tank and an electrical current is placed within the solution to have the precious metals adhere to the pewter and brass surfaces. Tanks that hold these solutions are frequently inspected to the best of our ability to make sure they are free of any contamination.

3. The initial plating of all the Nunn Design Findings is a layer of copper. The copper plating seals the surface of the findings and creates a barrier prior to the precious metals being applied.

4. For the Antique Gold, Antique Silver and Sterling Silver plates that Nunn Design offers, we plate over the initial copper layer with a minute amount of nickel. This is a critical step in the plating process because it allows the precious metals to have a smooth, non-coarse surface in which to attach. After the second plating, we then plate with precious metals; 24k gold and .999 fine silver.

5. After applying the precious metals, the findings are rinsed, rinsed again and then dropped into boiling hot water. Findings are then placed in a dryer to fully remove any moisture.

6. The final plating process consists of applying a water-based acrylic antiquing solution to provide a blackened relief. Findings are then placed in a tumbler with finishing mediums. This final step is what provides the Nunn Design Findings with its precious metal finish. Although we try to be consistent in the finished results, it is impossible to have each piece come out exactly the same.

To learn more about cleaning the Nunn Design Findings and why it is important, please read: How & Why it is Important to Clean Nunn Design Bezels. Tutorial + Video

To learn how to care for tarnished Nunn Design silver plated findings, please read: How to Care for Tarnished Silver Plated Jewelry Findings

To learn how to care for tarnished Nunn Design copper plated findings, please read: 5 Ways to Clean Tarnished Copper Jewelry Findings

For the Antique Copper Plate that Nunn Design offers, the plating process is slightly different. The initial plate of copper that is coating the findings is 50-60 mils thick. It is then chemically blackened and vibed within a tumbler with finishing mediums to relieve it of any excess blackening. It is rinsed three times and dried. Next, the findings are coated with a water-based acrylic to protect the copper. The final step consists of heading back to the tumbler for a final vibe. The plating for the Antique Copper Findings is nickel-free.

Nunn Design Earrings and Ear Wires – In addition to the copper findings, Nunn Design earrings and ear wires are plated nickel-free. The only step that is different in the Nickel-free plating process is Step #4. After the initial plate of copper is placed on the pewter and brass findings to seal the metals, the findings are “flashed” in a second lead-free acid copper tank. This “flash” layer of copper plating is what allows the precious metals to adhere to the finding’s surface. Earrings and ear wires are then plated using 24k gold and .999 fine silver.

Antique Silver-plated earrings and ear wires are plated with the .999 fine silver and then dipped in a bath of liver of sulfur to darken them. They are tumbled to relieve them of excess darkening.

Antique Gold plated earrings and ear wires that are plated with the 24k gold are coated with a water-based antique finish and are tumbled to relieve them of excess darkening.

Sterling Silver plated earrings and ear wires are plated with .999 fine silver. Once plated with the precious metal a chromating process begins to prevent the sterling plate from tarnishing. Findings are then rinsed, dried and coated with an acrylic base for the finished results.

Once the earrings and ear wire findings are rinsed and dried, they then go through the final water-based acrylic wax coating bath to provide a final finish that does not yellow.

Nickel-free plating is far more expensive due to the intensive steps that it takes to plate with the two layers of copper. The second “flash” of copper is very delicate and the person plating must be very sensitive to the precision timing that it takes to get the nickel-free plating just right.

If you have any other questions about our products and process, please contact me at becky@nunndesign.com. You can also find more information on our FAQ page.

– Becky

Shop Nunn Design Wholesale

Nunn Design has been supplying jewelry artists with findings for over 20 years. Shop wholesale jewelry findings for creative jewelry makers.

Shop Nunn Design!

How to Purchase Wholesale?

If you are interested in becoming one of the many designers who trust their jewelry to Nunn Design Findings, please join us by registering to become one of our wholesale customers!

Please visit our Where to Buy Page for a listing of online stores that sell Nunn Design Findings retail.

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