I'm here today to make a report on an unplanned experiment!
Last year, in September, if I recall correctly, Rhiannon made some chainmail Christmas Tree earrings and we put them up at eBay.
I took them outside to photograph them, as it was a nice sunny day and we always get better results taking photos in natural light, but as it was windy, I had to do this on the porch. So I used the wooden bench out there as the background. It worked well, I took photos of several other designs as well, and in moving things around I must have dropped one of the earrings. I wasn't aware of it at the time, but noticed I was one short when I went to sell the last pair. I had to get Rhiannon to quickly make me more.
Yesterday we were sitting out on the bench enjoying some sunshine, wrapped up well as it's still chilly here, and I saw something colourful lying in the snow. It was a Christmas Tree earring!
Despite being out in the cold and wet for 6 months, it had stood up rather well. We have never tested our earrings in this way on purpose. We rather expect people to keep them dry.
So we were not surprised that the earwire itself was damaged. They are rhodium-plated steel, and there were signs of rust. After 6 months in the snow, I fully expect this. The message here is don't leave your earrings out in the snow for 6 months, as rhodium-plate can't hold out in those conditions. But it's not expected to.
What was amazing however, was that the anodized aluminum chainmail rings had come to no harm whatsoever. Of course aluminum holds up well in bad conditions such as wet. It doesn't oxidize. But 6 months of snow and sunshine hadn't dulled the colours at all. This is performance beyond expectations, and is really quite exciting. What it means is that given the care one normally provides jewellery it will stay looking brand new for many decades. I think we can now safely consider anodized aluminum to be a "heritage" metal.