The Art of Crafting

We take our materials and construction techniques seriously. We're always looking for ways to make things sturdy, long-lasting and timeless. We also want our customers to understand that it is not only handcrafting that makes a difference in the quality of our work. Nothing sold at Chrononaut Mercantile is made overseas or mass-produced, although the component pieces (fabric, beads, etc) may be imported. Any guest artists we collaborate with are people who also care deeply about the quality of their work, and who we have seen maintain an exceptional level of craftsmanship over time. The following terms and information will help you make informed choices about the products you buy from any maker.

14k gold-filled is made from a tube of 14k gold filled with another metal, it is about 100 times thicker than a gold plate. It is made by heat and pressure bonding, and with normal use the karated gold will never tarnish, chip or wear off. By law this layer of karated gold has to be at least 1/20 of the total weight of the metal portion of the piece of jewelry. This tube is then made into wire, and other jewelry findings such as clasps.

Base metal is any metal or combination of metals that oxidizes or corrodes easily, and is usually a combination of copper, aluminum, lead, nickel, tin and zinc. Many smaller crafters will use beads or findings made from base metals, or base metals plated with silver and gold, as they are less expensive to work with. We prefer not to use base metals with the exception of some of the more exotic beads from Africa and beyond.

Cultured freshwater pearls are made when a foreign object such as a bead or tissue from another mussel is inserted deliberately into a freshwater mollusk to induce the natural process of pearl creation. Nearly all modern pearls are cultured or farmed. Cultured pearls which use a tiny bead can be distinguished from natural pearls through the use of x-rays, which reveal the inner part of the pearl.

Semi-precious gems are routinely color-enhanced, treated with heat, radiation and chemicals to improve their color and brightness. Any vendor who believes that the stones they are selling are natural or untreated is probably misguided, unless they are mined locally. Stabilizing the softer stones with heat and enhancing their color has been tradional for thousands of years, and was standard practice in ancient Egypt. We avoid selecting the stones (such as rose quartz and howlite) that are routinely dyed and have color that will fade or rub off.

Solid Metal Buttons are much more durable than covered buttons which are often plastic with a metal exterior. See our button selections here.

Sterling Silver is 92.5% pure silver by weight, with 7.5% by weight of other metals, usually copper. It can occasionally contain nickel, and should therefore be avoided by anyone with a severe nickel allergy.

Swarovski crystal has been produced in Austria since the late 1800's and it has taken competitors world-wide over 200 years to begin to replicate their brilliance and precision. This year the standard bicone crystal was replaced with a new version with 12 more facets to enhance light refraction and limit imitations.

Vermeil is sterling silver covered with 14k gold. The gold must be at least 10k and be at least 2.5 micrometres thick. In the US, sterling silver covered with a base metal (such as nickel) and plated with gold cannot be sold as vermeil without disclosing that it contains base metal.

Wool fabric milled in Maine is of exceptional quality and softness. Buying wool from a local supplier means that it is more costly than wool milled overseas, but we think that supporting local craftspeople is worth the extra investment.