Know Your Metals – Gold Edition

Have you ever wondered about metals used in the jewelry you wear? I’ve decided to tackle this issue through a series of specialized posts. First up, gold!

:|: Yellow Gold :|:  You’re probably pretty familiar with this metal. It can be found in a variety of purities. Most commonly in jewelry you’ll see 24K, 22K, 18K, 14K, and 12K. The more pure the gold, the higher the price tag. Because pure gold, 24K, is a fairly soft metal that can be easily dented and scratched, many jewelry designs feature more durable varieties in 22K or lower.

Forget Me Not Necklace by ZKD
Forget Me Not Necklace by ZKD

:|: Gold Fill :|: Gold-filled jewelry typically features 10K, 12K, or 14K gold that has been pressure bonded to a base metal. Thicker than the layer of gold found in gold plated items, gold filled jewelry is far more durable than gold plated jewelry. Even with daily wear, jewelry made from gold-fill can be worn daily and be expected to last between five to thirty years before the layer of gold begins to wear off. This is a fantastic option for both finding affordable gold jewelry options, and durability.

:|: Gold Plate:|: Gold plating is a process in which a thin layer of gold is electroplated onto a base metal. Another affordable option for those who prefer the look of gold, it is important to note that gold plating does provide a less durable finish than gold fill. The outer layer of gold will wear much quicker than gold fill, and is more likely to tarnish at a faster rate.

Rose Gold Studs by Hook and Matter.
Rose Gold Studs by Hook and Matter on Etsy.

:|: Rose Gold :|: Rose gold, also known as pink gold, is an alloy of gold, copper and silver, and has a color similar to that of copper. Rose gold is nice for those who love the look of copper, but prefer a less reactive metal. A beautiful metal that looks great on numerous skin tones, rose gold has been a trending feature in jewelry over the last several years. I found the faceted post earrings you see above at the wonderful Hook and Matter shop on Etsy.

:|: Rose Gold Fill :|: Because rose gold’s growing popularity, this more affordable alternative is now hitting shops. I got my first supply shipment in today, in fact! Hope to be adding some new items to the shop soon. Rose gold fill is created using similar techniques to that of yellow gold fill, this is a great way to check out this trend without breaking the bank.

Mint Triangle Ring by Virginie Millefiore
Mint Triangle Ring by Virginie Millefiore

:|: Vermeil :|: Similar to gold plate, but much more valuable because here sterling silver is electroplated with gold. The outer layer of gold is relatively thin compared to that of gold-fill, and does wear more easily. While vermeil is a lovely alternative to gold due to it’s affordability, take care in storing and cleaning your to ensure the life of your pieces. Always use a clean soft cloth, and be careful not to rub to harshly. Also important – never use an ultrasonic cleaning device on your vermeil pieces. Above you’ll find a super cool vermeil ring from Virginie Millefiore that I just love! I’m crazy for the mint color shown, but it’s available in a variety of shades.

:|: White Gold :|: White gold is measured in carats, and has a silvery hue. Also used in fine jewelry, it’s a nice alternative to those who love the look of platinum because it’s a little easier on the pocketbook. The look of white gold is achieved by mixing gold with at least one white metal. Nickel, manganese or palladium are often used as the alloy. Note that a small number of the population can develop allergies to certain varieties of nickel used in the formulation, so many countries don’t use it in the production of white gold. If you find that you are in this minority, you can always take your jewelry to a jeweler and have the rhodium plate redone.

That’s it for the first post. Hope you enjoyed it! I’d love to hear your thoughts. Post your comments and questions below.