Within the jewelry industry, there are many different approaches to creating jewelry. For example, craftsmen use techniques like alloying different metals in varying amounts to give their pieces the exact characteristics they want. Often, what seems like a solid gold piece is gold alloyed with other metals to give it a powerful shine or increased scratch resistance. Today, we’ll examine another popular jewelry crafting technique by explaining what gold-filled jewelry is, how it is used to create durable pieces, and how it differs from other types of gold products.
What is Gold-Filled?
So, what exactly is gold-filled jewelry? Well, it is a layered gold product that is quickly gaining popularity in the Americas, Europe and Asia. A quality material, gold-filled products are easy to care for and maintain a golden shine for many years. At the core of any gold-filled product is jeweler’s brass, which a jewelry maker adheres a surface layer of gold to.
When all the gold content is adheres in a single layer on only one side of the brass core, it is known as single clad. On the other hand, a gold alloy whose contents are split into surface layers on both sides of the brass core is known as double clad.
Here’s a helpful diagram to show you what gold-filled jewelry looks like:
Now that we understand how gold-filled jewelry works, we can compare it to other types of gold products.
Gold-Filled V. Gold-Plated
A gold-plated product is composed of a very thin layer of solid gold bonded to a brass base. This plating does not make up any measurable proportion of a product’s total weight and is estimated to only be 0.05 percent or less of the product.
Gold-filled and gold-plated products are different in several ways. First off, gold-filled pieces are legally required to contain more gold than gold plated – at least 5% or 1/20 gold by weight. Second, gold-plated items are less durable as the plating wears off fast and exposes the core brass metal. This is because it does not resist heat, water, and wear over time as well as gold-filled jewelry.
The Difference Between Gold-Filled and Solid Gold
The main difference between a gold-filled and solid gold product is that one is a layered product while the other is an alloyed product. The way solid gold is formed is by alloying pure gold with other metals to make it harder and easier to work with. Pure gold on its own is simply too soft to hold its shape or wear well.
Another way they differ is that karatage is measured differently on gold-filled products as they are legally required to be at least 5% or 1/20 gold by weight. This 5% is represented by the karatage of gold alloy on a gold-filled piece. For example, most gold-filled material is 12kt or 14kt and is labeled as 14/20 or 12/20 while if it were a solid gold product it would be labeled 14/24 or 12/24 as the pure gold it is alloyed with is 24kt.
We hope this information helps to clear up some of the confusion between the many types of gold products available. Be sure to review and this information as you shop for your next gold piece.