Technique: Designing in Bi-Metal
In short, bi-metal is a laminate of sterling silver (AG925) and 22 karat gold (AU900). The main body of this metal is silver, laminated with a generous 13% foil of rich 22 karat gold. The resulting bi-metal can be shaped, soldered and finished just like its solid counterparts using traditional silversmithing techniques.
As a collector, the great thing about silver and gold bi-metal is that you are getting a beautifully designed piece of jewellery with a lush gold colour at a very reasonable price, and it is guaranteed to last a lifetime. This fits perfectly with Manu’s philosophy of making affordable, contemporary jewellery to be worn every day.
Unlike gold plating - which is effectively a surface treatment that (like all other finishes) wears away with use - the silver and gold bi-metal is known to make jewellery that will last a lifetime of wear. This is to do with the fusing process used to bond the gold foil to the silver, but also the simple fact that the foil is a higher gold karat and also a much thicker layer. In layman’s terms you could compare gold plating to a layer of spray paint (you can’t hold the fine mist in your hands), whereas the gold foil is a tangible layer of gold that is fused to the silver.
Bi-metal is produced in an industrial setting and comes in sheets or square wires of different thicknesses. If you examine Manu’s work closely you can easily see how even their more voluminous pieces are constructed from bi-metal sheet or square wire. It also means that each Manu piece is created by hand from scratch using traditional silversmithing tools and techniques. It also explains why their designs are made in small batches as they don’t use large-scale jewellery production processes.
Most Manu jewellery is finished to a bright white fine silver to maximize the contrast with the rich gold colour. But sometimes the design just calls for a black oxidized finish for a dramatic contemporary look. Before the jewellery leaves the workshop each piece is stamped with the maker’s mark IE (for the founder Ilse Elberts), AG for silver and 925 indicates Sterling silver.
Manu works with a small team of designers and goldsmiths to create two new collections each year. Each team member brings their own experience and design aesthetic to the table, which results in a broad variety of styles. Nevertheless they present a cohesive collection through use of bimetals throughout all their designs and also strict adherence to Manu founding principles of affordable, contemporary jewellery to be worn everyday.
Have a look at our website to see the current Manu collection or book an appointment to view the Manu collection at DesignYard in person.