Gold Filled Explained | The Curious Gem


Gold filled findingsGold filled findings and jewellery components are a fantastic way to introduce gold into your jewellery designs without breaking the bank, allowing you to make high quality items that will last for years.

I thought it would be helpful to share the answers to some of our most commonly asked questions about gold filled:

1. What is gold filled?

Gold filled (also known as rolled gold) comprises a solid brass (copper and zinc) core over which gold is mechanically bonded using heat and pressure. Gold filled items must contain, by law, 5% or 1/20 of gold by weight. The gold used is generally 12K or 14K, although I have seen some 10K gold filled items too. All our gold filled findings are 14K.

2. What is the difference between gold filled and gold plate?

The difference between gold filled and gold plated items is the amount of gold used over the brass core. Gold filled items must contain, by law, 5% or 1/20 of gold by weight. In contrast gold plated items usually contain a microscopic amount of gold. This means the gold layer on gold plated items can peel or flake very easily exposing the brass core underneath. Because the gold layer on gold filled items is so much thicker it will not peel or flake and lasts for years.

3. Please can you provide a bigger range of charms and pendants in gold filled.

We would love to but unfortunately it is not possible. This is because gold filled cannot be cast. Casting means pouring molten material into a mould to create a shape. This is easily done with metals such as sterling silver or gold. It is not possible with gold filled because melting gold fill would not retain the gold layers over the inner brass core. This limits the number of items that can be manufactured in gold fill to those made with wire, tube or sheet. A good alternative is to use our 14k gold vermeil pendants and connectors which will colour match 14k gold filled findings.

4. What stamps are used on gold filled items?

It is a legal requirement in the United States (where much gold filled is manufactured) to stamp, where possible, items which are gold filled. You will see 'GF 14/20' or '1/20 14K GF' indicating the item is 14K gold filled and 1/20 of gold by weight. However, not all items are big enough to stamp (you will find this with sterling silver items too). However, please be aware that countries other than the US manufacture gold filled items and can basically stamp anything onto any metal. Buy your items from a reputable supplier (like The Curious Gem!) to ensure you are getting what you are paying for.

5. Does gold filled tarnish?

Many people think that gold and gold filled does not tarnish. Unfortunately this is wrong. Pure gold (24k gold) does not tarnish because it is not alloyed (mixed) with other metals but all other karats of gold are alloyed with other metals and this is why tarnishing may occur. The higher the karat of gold the less likely it is to discolour (tarnish). Under normal storage conditions very little tarnishing will be observed in 14K gold, and it may take years before discolouration occurs. The most common causes of tarnishing are: oxidation, exposure to sulphur, differing body chemistries and exposure to perfume, hairspray, cleaning agents etc. Taking care of your jewellery and proper storage are the best methods to avoid tarnishing. It is important to note that many cardboard jewellery boxes and tissue papers used to wrap jewellery can contain chemicals which will rapidly accelerate the tarnishing process - we recommend using anti-tarnish bags or anti-tarnish squares at all times to avoid disappointment.

Hope this has been of interest - you can find our range of gold filled findings on our website.


Steve Carroll
01 July 2015  |  10:48

Thank you! an excellent summary

Rita Verbon
12 August 2015  |  8:04

I know about gold plate and gold filled, still they had me fooled! Finding your company made me so happy and relieved and you clearly know what you're selling.

Kimberly Delmer
17 January 2019  |  1:35

What can be done with sellers on Etsy who falsely claim their items are 14K gold filled when they are clearly not???

17 January 2019  |  10:06

I would contact the seller directly and tell them your concerns and also contact Etsy themselves (but I think you would need some kind of proof to show Etsy - a lab report or something like that).

25 February 2021  |  2:03

I sell on Etsy and mine are all Vintage 12K gold filled. Good condition. Thanks for the informative synopsis.


Crafty Mike
31 July 2020  |  20:08

Thanks for the really helpful explanations. There's still one thing that puzzles me though. Why is the term 'Gold Filled' used when in reality the filling is brass and the gold is a cladding on the outside.

03 August 2020  |  9:21

I know, it's slightly confusing isn't it. "Gold, filled with brass" would be less snappy I guess!

13 April 2021  |  18:54

I'm from the UK and I have a 9ct gold and 9.25 sterling silver bonded chain is this the same as gold filled or is it plated its only marked 9.25 silver 9ct gold bonded ? Any help would be appreciated

14 April 2021  |  9:08

Hi Liam - no your chain is not gold filled. It sounds like it is sterling silver (925) with 9K gold bonded on top of the silver (bonding is different to plating). Gold filled is brass with gold bonded onto the brass and contains no silver. Hope this helps.

Tracey Walker
03 September 2023  |  11:19

A fabulous clear article, which has inspired me to make some designs using gold filled.
Thank you

12 September 2023  |  9:58

Thanks Tracey :) I really love gold filled - it lasts so much longer than gold vermeil and is so much cheaper than solid gold.

Annalisa McGlynn
08 January 2024  |  18:56

is your rose gold filled 14k, like the yellow gold ?

09 January 2024  |  9:19

Hi Annalisa - yes, our rose gold filled is 14K too.

20 February 2024  |  14:19

Based on previous explanations, to be gold filled the base metal in ONLY brass? It can not be silver or copper etc?

Can you cast a piece in brass and then heat pressure bond gold to the outside? Will that be considered gold filled? Or is that gold bonded?

Also, is the difference the use of the term “gold filled” and the fact that it technically needs to be “filled”.

Is gold bonded same as gold plated?

Do gold bonded pieces have the same properties with regards to being hypoallergenic, tarnish resistant and long lasting and still have 5% gold content by weight?

26 February 2024  |  14:09

Hi Cyndi, in answer to your questions: i believe the base metal in gold filled should always be brass (I've only ever seen brass be used but I could be wrong); gold bonded is the same as gold filled, just different terms for the same thing; it is my understanding that you would not be able to cast brass and then bond gold onto it as the manufacturing process requires everything to be flat, heated and to be passed through a roller. 14K gold filled/bonded may not be hypoallergenic as the gold is an alloy and someone may have an allergy to the alloys; it is also not tarnish resistant - see point 5 in the blog post. I hope this helps - feel free to ask anything else and I'll try my best to assist.