How is gold filled jewellery made?

Updated April 17, 2017

Gold is a popular precious metal that comes in a variety of colours, including yellow, white, green, and rose. It is used to fashion all types of jewellery. Because of the relatively high value and desirability of this precious metal, however, solid gold jewellery can be costly. Gold-filled jewellery is a more affordable alternative to solid gold jewellery; and when new, it can possess the same luxurious glow as solid gold.

Contents of Gold-Filled Jewelry

Gold-filled jewellery consists of genuine carat gold along with a base metal, such as brass. The gold in gold-filled jewellery may be any carat, from 10 to 14. A carat is a measurement of the pureness of gold; for example, 14 carat gold is about 58 per cent pure gold, while 24 carat gold is 100 per cent pure gold. Gold that is not 24 carat, or 100 per cent pure, may contain other metals such as copper, silver, zinc, nickel, and palladium. The gold used in gold-filled jewellery may be yellow, white, rose, or green.

Construction of Gold-Filled Jewelry

Gold-filled jewellery is made by permanently bonding a layer of solid gold around a base metal core using heat and pressure. It is sometimes referred to as "rolled gold" jewellery because the thick layer of solid gold forms a substantial roll around the base metal.

Differences Between Gold-Filled and Gold Plated Jewelry

The gold layer on gold-filled jewellery is approximately 100 times thicker than that on gold plated jewellery. Like solid gold items, gold-filled items are regulated by the government; they are required to be at least 5 per cent gold by weight. Gold plated items, in contrast, are not regulated by the government, and can contain a very thin layer of gold. Gold plated jewellery may be mistakenly termed gold filled; it is also termed "gold overlay" or "gold washed."

Advantages of Gold Filled Jewelry over Gold Plated

Gold-filled jewellery is superior to gold plated jewellery for several reasons. Gold filled jewellery is more tarnish resistant and durable than gold plated jewellery. With time and wear, the gold on gold plated jewellery may wear down, chip, and flake off, gradually revealing the base metal underneath and causing the jewellery to lose its colour and lustre.

Caring for Gold-Filled Jewelry

You can care for gold-filled jewellery the same way you would solid gold jewellery. Avoid allowing gold-filled jewellery to come in contact with chemicals. Note that saltwater, chlorine and perspiration will dull its surface. Clean gold-filled jewellery with a solution of warm water and mild soap, making sure to rinse it well and pat it dry with a non-abrasive cloth. Polish gold filled jewellery with a jewellery polishing cloth.

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About the Author

Rose Brown began writing professionally in 2003. Her articles have appeared in such Montana-based publications as "The Tributary" and "Edible Bozeman." She earned a bachelor's degree in literature from the University of California at San Diego, and a master's degree in English from Montana State University. Brown has been a professional florist since 1997.