Gold: Buy Buy Bimetal Jewelry

A familiar but little-talked-about product in the jewelry manufacturing sector called bimetal—­referring to two metals bonded together, primarily sterling silver fused to either 18k or 22k gold—is poised for greater popularity in fine jewelry stores. As a good alternative to solid 18k gold, bimetal helps keep down costs; it’s much more durable compared to gold vermeil or plate; it’s got more value than sterling alone; and it’s versatile to boot.

“Bimetal allows you to do bigger, showier pieces without the cost of all gold,” says Barbara Wasserstrom, co-owner of Stuart Benjamin & Co. in San Diego, who introduced the metal to clients at the beginning of the recession in 2008. “I had to make things more affordable.”

Wasserstrom carries the work of Christine Mac­kellar, who makes 80 percent of her C.H. Mackellar line in bimetal sterling and 18k gold. What surprises the Brooklyn, N.Y.–based Mackellar is that many ­jewelers just aren’t aware of the material. “Some think it’s plate or vermeil, which it’s not, or that it will rub off, which it doesn’t. It took a while for a few of my fine jewelry clients to wrap their heads around it,” she says.

One look, three prices: Foliage leaf earrings in 18k gold with 2 cts. t.w. quartz, $1,910, in 18k gold bimetal with 18k gold ear wires and stones, $720, in sterling silver with stones, $268; Jamie Cassavoy, Atlanta; 888-628-8399;

Mackellar’s introduction to bimetal occurred during her university studies in England in the 1970s when she worked with a copper and silver version dubbed Sheffield plate. Other bimetal believers: Sydney Lynch of Lincoln, Neb.–based Sydney Lynch Jewelry; Hoover & Strong in Richmond, Va.; Reactive Metals Studio in Clarkdale, Ariz.; and Jamie Cassavoy of Cassavoy & Co. in Atlanta, who launched her largely bimetal line in 1998. “Bimetal offers an in-between price point with a two-tone look that people dig,” says Cassavoy.

Plus, over the long term, the items wear well. “Pieces will look the same 20 years down the road,” says Cassavoy.

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