Gold Filled Explained | The Curious Gem
11 Comments1 May 2016 | Victoria
Gold 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). 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.