As more and more jewelry makers delve into the realm of rosary making it seems a good time to clarify the differences between American and Italian manufacturing. Many jewelry makers assume the same level of American quality even when purchasing rosary parts made elsewhere, but unfortunately this is not the case, so let’s take a peek at the differences.
Here are the basics. Foreign rosary parts have always been made differently from American jewelry components. It’s been that way for over 100 years. Jewelry components usually include features like thicker silver or gold platings, lead free pewter bases, and even solid sterling silver or 24K gold options. It is also very common for American rosary part manufacturers to use similar metals, which is why they are so much more expensive than their Italian and Chinese counterparts.
Most Italian rosary parts are made from a metal mix called Zamak which includes things like zinc, aluminum, magnesium and copper, but the exact recipe varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. For example, all of my suppliers mention using a silver “flash” plating on their silver tone parts. This type of plating is very thin compared to our American standard which is why some jewelry makers don’t consider it to be “real” silver plating and get very offended if you refer to it as such. Two of my suppliers also include small amounts of silver in their general Zamak recipe. Each manufacturer does something a little bit different. 🙂
Long story short, if Italian and Chinese rosary parts were plated with the American standard sterling silver or 14k gold, their cost would go up substantially. Affordability, durability and variety are what make Italian rosary parts so popular, but sterling silver or 14K gold they are not. This is why when talking about rosary parts you always see words like Italian silver plate (or tone), American silver plate, or Made in China. If you look for those specific identifiers, it will help you understand what the center or crucifix is made of. OK? 🙂
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. OK?