Important Considerations when Buying a Harmony Ball Necklace (Bola Necklace, Angel Caller Necklace)
So Many Websites out there to Choose from when Buying a Harmony Ball Necklace
So this is good for the consumers, right? …. well Yes and No
… as with many other things it really is a case of ‘Buyer Beware’ … Beware of websites with just pretty pictures and fancy presentations that lack details about the product, its actual size and importantly what it is made of and offering fantastic deals. Competition no doubt creates more competitive pricing for all of us but it also brings about potential traps for consumers.
As a Jeweler myself who is passionate about quality and very concerned with the increasing number of websites misleading customers about jewelry, I feel compelled to offer some advice, based on industry and scientific facts and my own training and experience, to help intending purchasers to understand the pitfalls they may face in buying Silver jewelry.
“Silver is not always Silver when it comes to jewelry and far too many people are being mislead about what they are actually buying.” …. author unknown.
This article is worth reading as it will arm you with the knowledge that will help you make an ‘informed decision’ when you purchase your Harmony Ball / Bola Necklace / Angel Caller / Pregnancy Necklace.
A few years ago there were far fewer websites selling Harmony Ball necklaces (and other quality jewelry items) than there are today. The explosion of websites selling these chiming necklaces is due to the Chinese manufacturers getting in on the act – making and selling simply silver ‘Plated’ copies of the original Hand Made Sterling Silver Harmony Balls, hand crafted by Artisan Silversmiths in Bali and in Mexico, the places of origin of these wonderful jewelry items. (by the way I am not anti-Chinese, I am anti-misleading consumers when buying Silver jewelry).
It is fair to say that prices have become cheaper – but so has the quality – if you really shop around you can buy a Harmony Ball / Bola Necklace for under U.S.$5 … but would you really want to?
As a Consumer You Essentially Have Two Main Choices –
1. Buy Quality Genuine 925 Sterling Silver or,
2. Buy merely Silver Plated (Costume jewelry)
Please take the following into account before you spend your money;
- – the price saving between the two choices is in the vicinity of about $15 to $25 – the average price for a typical size (18mm or 3/4″ diameter) Harmony Ball in 925 Sterling Silver is in the $45 to $55 range (more than $55 for that size and you are likely paying too much) – for a silver Plated one of the same size the range is generally $30 to $40 (if less than $30 it will likely be very poor quality and have a very poor chime sound, and over $40 you will be paying too much for just silver Plated)
- – a Genuine Sterling Silver Harmony Ball is a Genuine ‘Keepsake’ while the silver plated one is simply a piece of Costume jewelry
- – this will be a ‘very Special’ jewelry piece’, right? … purchased and worn for a ‘very Special Reason’ – and possibly for more than one pregnancy!
- Silver Plating WILL WEAR OFF … the facts are that the plating process adds a only a very minute thin coating (only a few microns thickness) of Silver onto whatever the material underneath is – most of the materials used in the making of Costume Jewelry (called Base Metals in the Jewelry making industry) are just made up of a mixture of scrap metals thrown into the melting pot, it could be anything – refer to this authoritative article about plating of costume jewelry here for more details (Silver-Plating-and-How-it-Differs-from-Sterling-Silver)
- Why will the silver plating will wear off? – “I have other silver plated jewelry that I have had for years and the plating hasn’t worn off”!! – plating quality can vary greatly between manufacturers and Silver itself is a very soft metal and can be easily worn off with abrasion – that is why copper is added to Silver to create Sterling Silver, to give it strength and toughness – see details about Sterling Silver below). Additionally a major difference is that a Harmony Ball necklace is worn day in and day out for 6 months or longer (200+ days and nights) and is in continual contact with either the skin or clothing or both intermittently and is being touched regularly – hence there is abrasion or wear of that very, very thin silver plating, the pendant bouncing and rubbing against an abrasive surface of clothing materials and even the skin with its natural oils plus any sweat or perfumes, body lotions etc can also be abrasive. So compared to any other piece that is not worn every single day and night for moths on end and is not in direct contact with clothing etc the Harmony Ball plating is copping some really harsh punishment. The rate of wear will vary, no doubt, depending on circumstances. Some clothing materials are ‘rougher’ than others, some people have oilier skin than others and some perfumes and body lotions have some pretty harsh chemicals that can accelerate the rate of wear of the very thin silver plating – all of these factors effect abrasive wear. It may take some time but it will wear off, especially if it has been a poor quality plating process.
- What happens when the Plating wears off? with whatever the metal mixture is underneath the worn off plating rubbing on the skin it can lead to any number of things – rashes, dermatitis, dirty marks on the skin (green from the copper content is common) and worse if by chance the material the pendant is made of contains Nickel, a known cancer causing carcinogen – “but the website said it didn’t contain Nickel”, I hear you say. The problem with this is that virtually ALL Websites selling these silver plated Harmony Ball pendants are simply resellers, buying in from wholesalers in China via sites like Alibaba.com or DHGate.com and not even from the actual manufacturer and as such they have to take the word of the wholesaler who in turn takes the word of the Chinese manufacturer – there really is NO WAY to VERIFY for the consumer or anyone else for that matter what the metal alloy content actually is made up of and hence whether or not it contains Nickel. So it all comes down to trust.
- TRUST and the website you buy from – aside from fancy professional appearance and impressive product images it is important that the website is giving you all the necessary information you need so that you know exactly what it is you are buying – information like actual size on the pendant (diameter) and what it is made of … and not just the word Silver – in this day and age there is no such thing as just silver – it is either Sterling Silver or it is silver plated. Most sites selling Chinese made Harmony Balls refer to just silver so you will not know if you are buying Sterling Silver or merely silver plated, and rarely do they say silver ‘plated’. Some are indeed up front whilst others will say Sterling Silver and in the fine print, in a hard to get to page, they will sate it is Sterling Silver ‘plated’ (a Chinese invention) to confuse or mislead consumers. Some sites do not even say what the pendant is made of on their fancy web pages, simply relying on the ‘wow’ factor and impulse buying based on a pretty picture. We probably need to ask ourselves the question ‘Why are these websites so evasive in providing factual information?’ The problem is the Chinese manufacturers are very good at making something look pretty. Some sites are run by very nice honest folk who believe they are selling a quality product, they have believed the wholesaler, others are sharks knowing they are misleading consumers.
- FAKE Gemstones – in addition, any so called gemstones on any Chinese manufactured silver plated Harmony Ball / Bola Necklace / Angel Caller are simply colored glass – (I know, I have smashed a few very easily with a gentle tap with a small hammer).
- Sterling Silver complies to International Standards – Sterling Silver, sometimes called 925 Sterling Silver or 925 Silver is made to International Standards – it is consistently made up of 92.5% Pure Silver (or 925 parts per 1000, hence the tag of 925) with the remainder being Copper to give the Silver the ‘tensile strength’ it needs to be formed into jewelry (pure silver is too soft for making jewelry). Sterling Silver is classed as a ‘Precious Metal Alloy’ so the quality of Sterling Silver is regulated and is consistent and jewelry pieces made with it are regarded as ‘fine’ jewelry. (refer to this link to an authoritative website for detailed information about Sterling Silver)
At the end of the day we all have to make our own choices – it is much easier to do so armed with knowledge. Hopefully this article has provided some beneficial knowledge to assist you in your purchasing decision.
We all want to get a ‘Bargain’ but maybe we should look for ‘Quality Bargains’ ? … so maybe ask yourself if you want save about $20 or so on a possible throw away or spend that $20 and buy a beautiful quality ‘Keepsake’, something that can be handed down from Mother to Daughter and on to further generations.
Ask any Jeweler, your local jeweler, for his or her opinion.
“Value for money is better in the long run than just getting a bargain” … author unknown
p.s. it is not just individual websites that you need to be careful with – many sellers in the huge shopping sites like Amazon, eBay, Etsy and others are offering plated products ‘without full disclosure to the shopper’ (i.e. using just the term ‘Silver’) and it seems these big sites do not enforce stringent enough policies or controls about materials that their jewelry for sale is made of or how the seller projects that aspect of their product. So do not fall into the trap that it is a big name site so it must be OK. Over 90% of the Harmony Ball products on these sites are simply silver ‘plated’.
website: http://www.SterlingSilver.net.au with additional content from WikiPedia.org, the Free Encyclopedia
Author: Mike O’Shannessy