Have you noticed all of the jewellery labeled “gold filled” or “gold plated” appearing for sale lately? Have you ever wondered what it all means? Well, I’m here to help you understand these terms!
Let’s start with the obvious. Solid gold is exactly what it sounds like, solid gold all the way through the piece. Jewellery is rarely made with pure gold, or 24 karat gold, because is it too soft and the jewellery would bend out of shape too easily while being worn. Gold is alloyed, or mixed, with other metals to make it more durable, and affordable. The metals used to alloy are usually copper and silver for yellow gold; and nickel or palladium, and silver for white gold. Stores don’t usually say “solid gold” however, usually they will state 18K (karat), 14K, or 10K. This means 14/24K, or 14 parts pure gold out of 24 parts, which equals 58.5% pure gold. If you’re in Europe, they stamp their jewellery with parts per 1000 instead. For example, 14K would be stamped 585 (585/1000 parts pure gold). To legally stamp these metal qualities (hallmark) on a piece of jewellery a company must have a registered trademark, and they must stamp both their trademark and the hallmark. It is legal to sell jewellery with no hallmark, it just means the company has no trademark, but it is not legal to stamp a hallmark with no trademark.
Now that we have that information, let’s move on to “gold filled”. This is a misnomer. The gold is not used as a filler but filled with a base metal. This is when a thin sheet of gold is mechanically bonded to a piece of base metal, such as brass, or silver. Or in the case of wire, there is a thin tube of gold, and the base metal is inserted into the tube. They are bonded by soldering or fusing the two metals together. To be considered gold filled, a piece requires a minimum quality of 10K gold, and the gold must weigh a minimum of 1/20 of the overall weight of the entire piece. This means that the edges, and sometimes the back of the metal, are base metal, not gold. Sometimes the gold is fused on the front and back of a sheet of metal, creating a sandwich of gold | base metal | gold.
This means that any piece of jewellery that is not fabricated from sheet metal or wire, and is instead cast, cannot legally be called gold filled. I have seen instances of pieces being called “gold filled” when they are obviously cast. This is misleading. They are probably gold plated, not gold filled.
Gold plating, unlike gold filled jewellery, is created by using electricity to bond particles of gold suspended in a solution on to a piece of jewellery. The layer that is created is approximately 1 micron (a micron is 1/1000th of a millimetre). Gold plating can be done on almost any type of metal. It doesn’t work on all base metals, but silver, copper, and brass can all be gold plated. Unlike gold filled, gold plating can not be easily measured by weight, since it is so insubstantial.
You can read about the Canadian legal requirements and hallmarks here. (Scroll to sections 6 and 7.)
This explains why gold filled costs more. It has considerably more gold than gold plating. This means that it doesn’t wear away as quickly as gold plating over time. Gold plating wears off even quicker, since it is only a layer of 1 micron. Solid gold will show the least obvious symptoms of wear, but it is not immune. Any item that is susceptible to wear and tear will slowly wear away, starting (obviously) with the surface layer. This is why old rings sometimes need to have the area most worn, typically the palm side of the finger, replaced. Stone settings also suffer from degradation, and need to have new claws put on them.
I hope this information helps you. It is always my opinion to use solid gold rather than plating or gold filled, or even gold rather than silver for a piece of jewellery that you want to last. (I love working in either gold or silver!) Quality materials and workmanship will result in jewellery that you can love for years, and even pass down to your children, and grandchildren. I hope you keep this in mind next time you want to buy a new piece of jewellery, or better yet, when you want to have a piece custom made!
Jewelust by Amanda Henderson
Jewel Envy. I am from Colombia and have become a Canadian citizen in the last
couple of years during which time I have also been a jewellery maker. This
multicultural background makes the whole thing much more interesting. Before
moving to Toronto I was in Montreal for some time, and there I had the
opportunity to do what I love the most, making jewellery. Now, I have new
things to learn, great people to work with, and Toronto to discover.
I make big pieces, have an eclectic stile, include personal
touches and more; this new life, it feels nice, and I’m very happy to be here.
My name is Darija Radic and I am the newest member of Jewel Envy.
I enjoy giving old jewellery a new life, my inspiration comes from earthy tones textures and shapes. Currently I am working on a new line to display in the shop, the jewellery will consist of up-cycling bullet casings and will be a bit different from my usual earthy feel. I can’t wait to display my new work but here’s a piece to look at for now. This piece has been up-cycled from a necklace that had oval beads along the chain.
Today it is a sweaty -7C here in Toronto, Ont. Down to the negative single digits? I think that’s a pretty good sign! I took a little tour around the show room today and picked out a few pieces that were also giving me some hope.
Do you guys have Spring break planned yet? I noticed they’re starting to stock beach wear in some of the clothing stores. Hang in there!
|Only a few of the great pieces for $100 or less!|
Valentine’s Day: T-Minus 9 Days!
For all of us on a budget:
Just another reminder from your friendly neighbourhood goldsmiths that Valentine’s Day is fast approaching.
There is something at every price point so that romantics of all budgets can bejewel their loved one this February 14th!
Drop by and let’s help you find something for that special someone.
Ok friends, it’s your girl Lauren here. I feel I need to apologize for this weather. Once every month I pick a day to take care of this lovely studio here at Jewel Envy and pretty much every time I do disastrous weather ensues! It’s like the Hanham family camping curse: torrential downpour, without fail. On the bright side, it’s finally February and you know what that means! No, not two more months til spring. No, not Valentine’s day in two weeks. No, not…ok those are actually both true and very important but guess what else happens in two weeks?
House of Cards returns to Netflix for season 2!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I can’t even handle it. Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright rule the small screen in this adaptation of the BBC drama by the same name. If you haven’t met Frank and Claire Underwood, you should. On tv though, not in real life. They’re scarey good at manipulating those around them to get what they want. In this case for Frank, it’s the US presidency. If you haven’t seen the show, long story very short Francis “Frank” Underwood gets passed up for the position of Secretary of State and he is NONE too pleased about it.
So if Valentine’s day ain’t your thing, you’ve got something else to look forward to and you have 2 weeks to catch up on season 1 if you haven’t already seen it. I highly recommend it, just look up trailers on YouTube and you’ll be intrigued. Plus, I’ve got just the jewellery for the occasion:
Glaciale by Alexis Kostuk’s Playing Card collection
So whatever you plan on doing this February 14th, we can find a piece of jewellery to suit your needs.