Variations & Care of Gold Jewelry

How to Clean Gold Jewelry Types of Gold Jewelry

Carolina Wong Jewelry
Gold is one of the oldest known substances on the planet. It has been coveted for thousands of years by many cultures and has symbolized wealth and beauty. It also has spiritual significance since its radiance has been associated with the Sun. It's been used throughout history to create sacred and religious artifacts as well as jewelry and other forms of adornment.  
Did you know that Gold has one of the highest atomic numbers of any substance in the universe which is 79? It is said that it was produced in a supernova from a collision of neutron stars soon after the big bang, forming what is now our solar system and the rest of the universe.  There is gold present in the Earth's core as well as closer to surface where it is mined. 
Gold is part of the history of this planet and also the development of mankind. Its value has never diminished, in fact it continues to increase, year after year. Pure gold jewelry can be expensive, but thankfully there are variations that are more affordable and allow the wearer to still enjoy the look and feel of gold. 

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. 

Gemma Baroque Pearl Drop Earrings

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 Coral Charm Amethyst Stone and Pearl Necklace

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 

This technique involves heating sterling silver and applying 24k gold foil to it, then using a tool to burnish the gold so that it bonds with the silver. This produces a beautifully rich gold colored finish over silver.
This jewelry generally wears well, but is similar in the way it wears to gold plated jewelry, therefore these pieces should be treated with care.

How to Clean and Care for Your Gold Jewelry 

All gold jewelry is delicate to some degree. Gold is soft, so the the higher the gold content, the more susceptible the metal will be to surface scratches. Jewelry pieces should not rub up against each other, other types of metal or any harsh surfaces as they can be easily marked. Avoid applying too much weight or force to your jewelry. You should avoid harsh chemicals from coming into contact with your jewelry as this can cause discoloration or degradation. Seek out a jeweler that offers repairs if you wish to have a piece buffed or repaired.
It's a great idea to store your precious jewelry in small boxes or pouches when not being worn to help keep it clean and prevent it from being scratched. 

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 designer Carolina Wong 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. 


Carolina Wong & Farra Jewelry







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