Solid Gold Jewelry
Pure gold is incredibly durable and it won't tarnish, rust or degrade in any way. Pure solid gold isn’t often used in jewelry making because it’s very soft. Instead the gold is alloyed with other metals, like zinc, copper, silver or nickel, to make it harder so that it may stand the test of time. The higher the carat, the higher the gold content in the metal, with 24k gold having the highest purity and 9k having the lowest.
Gold Filled Jewelry
Gold Filled metal is one of the best and most accessible varieties of gold finished jewelry. Gold filled metal is made by applying a layer of gold over a base metal core, which is then rolled under very high pressure until bonded. To be called ‘gold filled’ the gold content must be no less than 1/20th or 5% of the total metal content. This finish is up to 10 times thicker than regular gold plated metal.
Purities of 12k, 14k or 18k gold are most often used in this process. The most commonly used base metal is brass which is the closest match in color to gold. Gold filled jewelry wears well over time when properly maintained.
Gold Vermeil Jewelry
Gold vermeil jewelry (pronounced ‘ver-may’) is made of either pure or sterling silver which is heavily plated with gold. To be considered gold vermeil, the United States requires that the minimum gold purity used be 10k gold. United States regulations also require that the plating be at least 2.5 microns thick, making it a heavy plated finish.
Gold vermeil is a good alternative to solid gold. Although it won't wear quite as well as gold filled, it is easier to make. The base metal being silver adds value over that of other base metals.
Gold Plated Jewelry
Gold plated jewelry contains the least amount of gold. Gold plate is created by applying a thin layer of gold (usually between 0.175 microns and 2.5 microns thick) over a base metal using an electrical or chemical process.
Gold plated jewelry will not wear as long as the other varieties due to lower gold content. However, it is the most affordable and easiest to repair. People with base metal allergies may have difficulty if the gold wears thin due to long term use.
Gold Gilded Jewelry
How to Clean and Care for Your Gold Jewelry
Tarnishing is a natural process which is caused by oxygen and moisture coming into contact with various types of metal. If your once shiny metal has turned dark, this is likely to be the reason why. All precious metals can tarnish to some degree.
Gold jewelry of 14k or over shouldn't show any tarnish or discoloration in most circumstances. If the discoloration is just dirt on the surface it should wash off with soap, water and a light scrubbing with a soft brush or cloth.
You can purchase soft polishing cloths or a liquid 'silver dip' to clean jewelry. Since it is a chemical compound be careful if your jewelry also contains gemstones. Make sure to rinse your pieces with water after using the silver dip.
The following is an eco-friendly alternative to jewelry cleaning:
Cut a piece of aluminum foil which covers the bottom of a small bowl. Then pour a cup of hot water into the bowl and mix in the following:
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon of baking soda
- 1 tablespoon dish washing detergent
Put the items to be cleaned into the bowl so they sit on top of the foil and are covered by the solution. After 5 to 10 minutes you can rinse your jewelry in cool water and dry it with a soft cloth. Do not rub the surface of your jewelry with harsh chemicals or surfactants like baking soda or toothpaste.
These two methods of cleaning can be used for gold filled, gold plated and gold vermeil jewelry. Just be delicate and avoid scrubbing too harshly or soaking in cleansers for too long.
If you follow these directions, your gold jewelry pieces can bring a lifetime of wearable pleasure.
Our independent jewelry designers Carolina Wong and FARRA, create gold filled and gold plated jewelry, allowing you to enjoy the beauty and luxury of wearing unique gold jewelry pieces, at a fraction of the cost.