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What is polymer clay?

Polymer clay is a synthetic type of modeling clay that is based on the polymer polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a plasticizer agent and pigment. Since polymer clay is soft and bendable, it’s also great for children and beginner crafters to use while learning the basics of sculpting and modeling.

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Although it is called “polymer clay,” there is no actual clay in the material. It is merely called “clay” due to similarity in use and malleability to normal clay.

What is ceramic clay?

Ceramic is a natural mixture of earth minerals, clay, and water. It is made up of naturally occurring substances and is one of the oldest building and crafting materials known to man. Ancient man made pottery and bricks from ceramic clay, and ceramic is still used for those purposes today.

What is Ceramic Jewelry?

Ceramic clay usually is the better material for crafting any kind of dishware, pottery or delicate sculpture.

How to identify jewelry made from ceramic clay vs polymer clay

It can be tricky to tell the difference between the two, so here’s what you should look out for:

The Look

Polymer clay jewelry tends to have a matte finish. It is available in many colours and finishes and various techniques are applied that enable the user to simulate other materials such as stone, glass, wood and precious metals to name just a few.

Person Holding Gold and Blue Ring

Polymer clay jewelry — Photo by Jocelyn Riley from Pexels

Ceramic jewelry has a solid stone-like appearance, and can have a gloss finish created by special ceramic glazes in the production process.

The Feel

Polymer clay jewelry feels plastic and more durable, so it tends to be used for trendy jewelry. Ceramic is more fragile and brittle than polymer, so it is the better choice for classic crafted items that will be carefully handled.

The Sound

When you tap a piece of polymer clay jewelry with your fingernail, it will have a light sound similar to a plastic piece of dinnerware. Ceramic jewelry will sound like a piece of china. This is because ceramic jewelry is much more compact & denser due to the baking process in a special high-temperature kiln.

Mothers day gift, ceramic jewelry, 18k gold dangle earrings, broken china porcelain, gift for mom

Porcelain ceramic earrings on OeiCeramics

The Occasion

Since polymer clay jewelry is made from relatively inexpensive materials, the jewelry designs incorporate fun and playful styles, and change fast to follow the season’s trends. You may see more younger people wearing it to make a fashion statement.

Ceramic jewelry tends to use a classic design adopted by jewelry makers who want to create contemporary & elegant pieces for their wearers. You may have also noticed that nice men’s watches use ceramic in their design to give them a classic finished look.


Polymer clays are made of vinyl/PVC, a man-made plastic, which is a significant pollutant and health hazard. During baking, polymer clay produces toxic gases including dioxin and phthalates, created by chemicals that are included to increase the jewelry’s strength and flexibility of plastic. These chemicals have been linked to long-term health conditions such as autism, ADHD, fertility issues and cancer.

Ceramic jewelry is biodegradable. It is created from naturally-occurring clay, and is glazed with water-based liquid glazes that are brushed onto the pieces. Additionally, the pieces usually don’t use plastic, which reduces the inclusion of plastics in the production process.

How eco-friendly & sustainable is Ceramic jewelry?

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