Posted by Karen Bradley on 5/7/2020 to Materials
When our company was opened in 2006, we worked exclusively in sterling silver. As our business developed, we chose to move into yellow metal and needed to select one that would help achieve our style, allow us to create an ageless and timeless product, and would meet our price point goal. “Why has Pohl Jewelry Design chosen to work, almost exclusively, in 14KT gold-filled?” “What is gold-filled?” “What is gold plated?” “What is gold vermeil?” “Why don’t you use 14 or 18KT gold?” “I’m allergic…I can only use pure gold.” “Will your jewelry turn my skin green?” “Will the gold finish rub off?” These are all questions that we are asked frequently, and I hope this blog post will help answer your questions about gold-filled metal.
We have opted to use 14KT gold-filled. That means that the gold-filled metal used in our designs (as well as the clasps) is a base metal, generally jeweler’s brass, that has had a solid layer of 14KT gold mechanically applied to it. Gold-filled is not gold-plated. Gold-filled is legally required to contain 5% or 1/20 gold by weight. Since we use 14KT gold-filled it is described as 14/20 or just 14KT gold-filled. Another term for gold-filled is rolled gold. That term comes from the base metal being covered by sheets of gold in the mechanical bonding process. What is the difference between gold-filled and gold-plated? Gold-plated is a base metal, usually brass or steel, with a miniscule layer (non-measurable) of gold over the base. It will peel.
Pure gold (24KT) is not commonly used. We do not use it for our jewelry as it is far too soft, and it does not hold its shape. Most jewelry in the United States is 14KT or 18KT gold, however, much of the jewelry in Europe is 18KT gold. The gold is mixed with another metal to make it harder. We did not choose to use 14KT or 18KT gold because of the price point. Having said that – on occasion we find a special bead or a special clasp that we do not want to pass up that only comes in a higher quality gold so we have purchased and used them. We always promote the metal that each design contains. Many of our designs may be made in 14KT gold and we are happy to custom make them to order for a client if they are requested, and if the raw material is available. We did not choose to use gold plate as it is not a high-quality choice. The plating can flake off the base metal and then the base metal can rust. Exposing the base metal also allows the base metal to come into contact with your skin and, perhaps, have an unwanted reaction.
What is vermeil? It is a sterling silver base with a thick, heavy coating of gold that is plated onto the silver. The gold must be at least 10KT gold. Some gold content is higher than that. We did not choose vermeil as we did not particularly like the look of the vermeil mixed with 14KT gold.
We really like using gold-filled for several reasons:
1. It provides a beautiful look and it is easy to maintain. It doesn’t tarnish quickly, if at all. Gold-filled jewelry is easy to care for. Usually, just wiping with a soft cloth each time you take the jewelry off will maintain the beauty of your jewelry for a lifetime. Each time you wear your jewelry your skin oils transfer to it and a soft cloth will take that off and keep your jewelry looking good for several lifetimes!
2. You should not see your skin turn green! There is a thick layer of gold over the base metal and, unless you are allergic to gold, you should be fine.
3. It is less expensive, and it is difficult to see a difference with 14KT gold. This allows us to price the end product at a price that makes our jewelry more accessible.
4. It was a conscious choice to use less of our earth’s natural resources and have our jewelry last for more than one season.
5. You can mix gold-filled jewelry with 14KT gold jewelry. People have 14KT gold chains that they want to use with a pendant made with 14KT gold-filled wire. It will look great. You will not be able to tell the difference. We like the ability to move back and forth between the two types.
As the consumer, we want you to know the difference among all the types of gold so that you can make an informed choice when purchasing jewelry. We hope you will enjoy your gold-filled jewelry for a lifetime and then leave it to your family to enjoy for their lifetimes. Gold-filled will last! We hope this answers the “why gold-filled questions” you might have. Feel free to email us at [email protected] with any questions you might have. We may use them for the subject of a blog post!