Brass Chain from GARLAN CHAIN
In this edition of New, News & Trends, Dave Gariepy, the owner of Garlan Chain, discusses brass and why this unique material is used for making chain.
Q: What is brass? A: Brass is an alloy, meaning, a mixture of metals. We use a C226 alloy, which is composed of 87% copper and 13% zinc. It is also sometimes referred to as"Rich-low Brass" or "Jewelers Bronze" because of it's golden hue. Competitors, especially foreign manufacturers, use a cheaper grade of brass, C260, which is 70% copper and 30% zinc, giving it a green appearance.
Q: Where does the C226 brass alloy come from? A: North America
Q: What are the color options with brass? Sometimes, it is more "yellow" and sometimes more "red"? A: All of our brass is "yellow". Only soldered brass will have a red appearance due to the soldering process.
Q: If I like the overall brass color, what are some options to make it darker, shinier or stay the same as when I get it? A: Raw brass will vary from order to order based on how long we've had the wire or chain. For a more consistent brass color, we recommend having it "fire-dipped" and to help maintain the color, to have it lacquered. However, a fire-dipped and lacquered chain will not last as long as an electroplated finish in regards to wearing and tarnishing. If you want it darker, we have an oxidized brass finish.
Q: What is an electroplated finish? A: The chain is submerged into an electrically charged aqueous solution, where the metal in the "bath" is deposited onto the chain, changing the surface finish. It can vary from a precious metal such as gold or silver, to a non-precious material mimicking those colors. For example, one of our best selling finishes is an imitation rhodium.
Q: Do you have findings that match? A: Yes - jump rings, lobster clasps and we can also assemble the entire piece and have it plated.
Q: Who buys brass and why do people make this choice? A: Brass tends to plate up slightly better than steel, but once they are plated it is very tough to tell the difference. People tend to use brass on higher-end items because it is 13% heavier than steel, yielding more "perceived value". It's also used in instances where the chain may get wet, because brass will not rust.
Q: What is the difference between soldered and un-soldered chain? A: Brass, being softer than steel, will need to be soldered on the smaller chains to increase strength and durability. We only go as small as 0.020" (.5mm) wire in un-soldered brass chains and even those can tend to be weak depending on the chain style. I prefer to stay larger than 0.025" (.6mm) for un-soldered brass chain.
Check out S O L D E R E D B R A S S C H A I N
An excellent visual representation of the application differences is shown below. Check out the dainty "classic" vs. the robust "rustic".
Q: What do your customers do with brass chain? A: They use it just as they would any jewelry chain but also for fashion accessories, handbags and footwear.
Q: Cost wise, where does it line up? A: The base chain will be anywhere from 2-3 times more expensive than steel. That being said, the cost to plate and/or assemble the chain is exactly the same whether we are using brass or steel, so it really depends on the finished piece. We are happy to quote it both ways for those that are interested.