FAQ & Materials

Our mission at Grayling is to create versatile, stylish jewelry in a wide range of prices while adhering to strict quality standards. We uphold a strong commitment to U.S.-based manufacturing and source our materials from U.S.-based suppliers whenever possible. We are passionate about making stylish jewelry accessible for all women and stand behind what we make! Every piece of our jewelry is backed by a 1-Year Limited Warranty. 

I have sensitive skin. Can I wear your jewelry?

YES! 99.9 % of people can wear every single item we make with no risk of irritation. We adhere to strict metal quality standards and we do not use nickel as a base metal, nor do we plate with nickel silver. Our 14k gold fill and sterling silver metals do not contain nickel. Our electroplated chains are also free of nickel, down to the core. All ear wires are completely free of nickel and are safe for sensitive ears. 

Are your ear wires nickel free?

Yes. All ear wires and posts are free of nickel. Our earrings can be worn by everyone, without a risk of irritation. Occasionally, ears simply don't like having a foreign object of any kind (regardless of the metal content) and for that, we recommend Ear Care Gel, it really helps calm the skin.

I usually wear sterling silver or gold because I get a rash from other metals. Can I wear Grayling?

Our designer, Katy, is allergic to several metals, and she created Grayling specifically for people with sensitive skin like hers. None of our metal finishes contain nickel, lead, or harmful chemicals! All alloys are tested and are guaranteed to be 100% nickel free. Our advice is, give it a try -- you might be pleasantly surprised. Learn more about nickel free jewelry here.

My skin turns black or green with jewelry sometimes. What's up with that?

What you're referring to is often called "staining". Good news: staining isn't caused by allergies, it's actually a reaction between the metals used in jewelry and our skin. When jewelry touches areas that perspire, the PH in our skin can react to the metal it touches. Then, our skin can turn black or green. Our jewelry doesn't have nickel and is hypoallergenic, but sometimes the copper can cause the skin to temporarily discolor. The earrings or ring you're wearing might not have much copper, but it might have enough copper to cause a reaction. It depends on your individual skin and body chemistry. Some people's skin runs more acidic than others, and people with more acidic skin can see "staining" occur. For some people, jewelry will stain even when a small amount of copper is present. For others, jewelry will never stain. Think of how a copper penny turns green and tarnishes over time -- the same thing can happen to your skin. Luckily, it's not dangerous, but it can be annoying!

At Grayling, we see this most commonly with our antiqued brass jewelry, and occasionally with other finishes. Brass is a nickel-free, hypoallergenic alloy which contains copper and zinc. When copper touches skin, the skin can stain temporarily (again, it's not an allergy, but a chemical reaction). Sterling silver also contains 7.5 percent copper, so it is possible to see skin turn black or green from silver. Gold under 18K can also contain copper, so those metals can cause the skin to discolor. Some women find they can only wear 18K gold or higher because their skin is so prone to staining. 

How can I keep my skin from turning black or green? 1) Experiment with wearing jewelry for shorter periods of time (for instance, make it the last thing you put on before you leave your house, and the first thing you take off. 2) Try coating earring backs or the insides of rings with a light layer of clear nail polish. 3) Clean your jewelry with liquid soap and water and dry well between wears. 4) Don't wear your jewelry while exercising, or any time you may perspire.

    Where is Grayling made and where are the materials from?

    Our jewelry is handcrafted and assembled entirely in the U.S.A., in Portland, Oregon. The raw materials in our Fine Collection are environmentally responsible and include recycled metals from a third-party verified U.S. based refinery. Our 14k gold fill and sterling silver chains are machine-made to order in New York and Italy and we work with U.S. suppliers whenever possible to assure fair wages and safe working conditions within our supply chain. Our exclusive partnerships with several family-owned chain makers and plating houses within the United States assures you a high quality, unique product, while simultaneously investing in the United States economy. We source as much of our raw material as possible from domestic suppliers who care about the environment and the people who work for them. We are extremely proud to manufacture our jewelry right here in Portland, Oregon, U.S.A. You can find our handmade jewelry online, in our Portland jewelry store, or in one of our many retail partners.

    Who makes Grayling Jewelry?

    Every piece of Grayling jewelry is proudly made in small batches in our jewelry store in Portland, Oregon. All of the makers at Grayling are highly-skilled artisans. Every member of our staff is paid fair wages and has access to lunches, breaks, and paid time off after working at Grayling for one year. Members of management are offered health insurance compensation and other benefits. We treat our staff like family, and we feel the commitment to our employees is evident in our finished product!

    What are the metals?

    We use a wide variety of metals at Grayling. All are safe for sensitive skin. 

    Feather-light and painstakingly finished, each piece is crafted entirely of glowing (recycled!!) 14k gold fill or brilliant .925 sterling silver, meticulously designed to be an everyday workhorse and a true staple in your jewelry box. Our 14k gold fill and sterling silver metals are 100% nickel free and safe for sensitive skin. Because these metals are recycled, they are environmentally responsible and sourced from a third-party verified U.S. based refinery. 

    We utilize the finest electroplating and anodizing technology to plate (or color) our metals. Our electroplated and anodized finishes are FTC-classified as a heavy-plate at 2.5 microns thick and offer an alternative to extremely expensive, high-karat metals you’ll find at a typical jewelry store. Our gold and silver jewelry styles are electroplated with nickel-free gold or a nickel-free silver plating over a nickel-free brass base. Brass is naturally free of nickel. Electroplating is when a layer of gold or silver is deposited onto a base metal that is conducive to electricity. We use an industrial grade electroplating process. Our items are not “dipped” in gold or silver.

    Gunmetal jewelry styles are anodized with a nickel-free gunmetal plating over a jeweler’s grade aluminum. Our gunmetal items have a blackish appearance and the finish is extremely durable. Aluminum is naturally free of nickel. Anodization is specific to aluminum and is a similar process to electroplating. The finish on our brass jewelry is oxidized, or “aged” (not plated). The process begins with pure, raw brass which has a shine to it. The brass is naturally oxidized (or exposed to air) to achieve our signature distressed look. Brass is naturally free of nickel. If you're shopping for nickel free jewelry online, Grayling is the place!

    What base metals do you use?

    Two different base metals are used in our jewelry: brass and aluminum. Each one is incorporated into the line for different reasons. Brass is the most widely used material in the line, and you’ll find it in our delicate to medium size chains. Brass is more expensive than steel and is used on many of our higher end pieces. It is heavier than steel and gives chains a very nice weight. Aluminum is used for the majority of our larger chains because it is lightweight (and therefore comfortable) yet still offers a “chunky” look. We use a 1350 grade (or jewelry grade) aluminum. Aluminum is 3 times lighter than steel and keeps hefty pieces comfortable for all-day wear. Steel is also used in a handful of our smaller components, for instance, when we need a very strong bond on a tiny scale (such as a jump ring to secure a clasp).

    How long will the metal finish last?

    Our finishes are very durable, however, they are susceptible to wear depending on the conditions they are subject to. Some of the worst conditions are presented by lotions, perfumes, and sweat all of which are acidic, and will deteriorate the finish at an accelerated rate. Showering and swimming will also affect how a finish wears.

    Will my jewelry tarnish?

    Some finishes will tarnish more easily than others, with the most susceptible being antiqued silver. Protectants are applied to all our finishes to help prevent or slow this process, but tarnishing may still happen depending on what you expose your jewelry to. You can clean tarnish off your jewelry with a soft dry cloth. Minimizing exposure to lotions, perfumes, sweat, and water, as well as cleaning your jewelry after every wear, will help protect the metal finish. Do not sleep or exercise in your new electroplated jewelry. See below for cleaning instructions.

    How should I clean my Grayling Jewelry?

    Pre-treated cloths or expensive cleaners are not required (the use of pre-treated jewelry cloths will wear down the finish at an accelerated rate). We highly recommend you wipe down your jewelry with a cotton cloth after every wear and if they require extra oomph, add an ammonia-free cleaner when wiping it down. Think Windex Multi-purpose Vinegar solution or Simple Green. Spritz just a little solution onto a lint-free or cotton cloth and wipe down the jewelry from there. Simple vinegar works, as well.

    Another thing that helps to preserve the high-quality finish is to make the jewelry the last item you put on, and the first thing you take off when you get home. No perfume, lotion, sunscreen, etc. In addition to storing the jewels in a dry place, this will all work to minimize exposure to liquids and keep your gems in great shape.

    It is very important that abrasive jewelry cleaners are NOT used on plated items -- that applies to all plated items, no matter where you get them. As an example, the cloth used to clean sterling silver has an embedded mild abrasive in it, and it will remove and score (or abrade) all plated products. PLEASE DO NOT USE JEWELRY POLISHING CLOTHS. The best way to clean the metal on plated jewelry is with a simple cleaner (like Mr. Clean) or mild liquid soap and dry with a cloth. Be careful not to use cleaners on your stones or crystals. They should be cleaned with a dry cloth only.

    What are the gemstones?

    We utilize the highest quality machine cut and polished crystal for a luxurious look and feel, and much of our crystal is sourced from Swarovski in Austria. Our crystal is cut and polished with precision facets and has a high optic quality. Opulent semi-precious stones including genuine turquoise, natural agate, pyrite and natural quartz are inspected for brilliance before being hand-strung into our necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Gemstones and crystals come to us from all over the world with origins ranging from Botswana to Spain and China. We’ve partnered with several U.S.-based suppliers and always choose domestic sources first.

    What kind of pearls do you use?

    All pearls used by Grayling jewelry are genuine Swarovski crystal pearls from Austria. They feature a solid core of Swarovski crystal, which is then covered in layers of innovative pearlescent "nacre" to create a flawless surface that resists cosmetics, chemicals, and perfumes. Quality is strictly controlled to ensure each crystal pearl is perfect, resulting in pearl jewelry that's like no other.

    Does your jewelry come with a warranty?

    Every Grayling design is made to exacting standards of fine craftsmanship. Each crystal and component is hand inspected. All new jewelry has a one-year limited warranty against manufacturing defects when purchased from Grayling or from an authorized dealer. Breakage due to improper handling and changes in finishes due to wear and tear are not covered under warranty. However, we will do our best to repair your item at a nominal fee. Rest assured, we stand by our product 100% and will do everything humanly possible so you can wear your jewelry again! Please contact us for additional information. We are ready to help!

    Do you sell birthstone jewelry?

    We do not specifically manufacture birthstone jewelry. However, this list will be helpful when shopping for birthstone jewelry:

    • January: Garnet (red)
    • February: Amethyst (purple)
    • March: Aquamarine (lt. blue green)
    • April: Diamond (clear)
    • May: Emerald (green)
    • June: Pearl (white)
    • July: Ruby (red)
    • August: Peridot (green)
    • September: Sapphire (blue)
    • October: Tourmaline (pink)
    • November: Topaz (honey)
    • December: Blue Zircon (lt. blue)
    I want to make a purchase but I’d like some assistance. Is there someone I can speak with?

    Absolutely! To speak with an expert member of our staff, please call (503) 548-4979 or contact us. We would love to help!