Gold jewelry never goes out of style, and for good reason, because gold is as wearer-friendly as it is beautiful. Pure gold doesn't react with other elements to create tarnish, the residue that accumulates on some metals before transferring to your skin as a stain. Sometimes people have allergy or staining problems with metals that are combined with gold, but the gold itself is rarely a problem.
Gold can be worked into nearly any shape, including tiny strands that do not break easily.
One ounce of gold can even be hammered into an ultra thin sheet that's ten feet square. Gold can be manipulated nearly any way the artisan desires.
You'll find examples of pure gold jewelry, but pure gold is soft and isn't practical for daily wear. Other metals are mixed with it to make it more durable (and to lower its cost).
Adding other metals to the mix also allows metallurgists to change the color of gold. Palladium or nickel can be added to create white gold. Adding copper produces a rose or pink tint, while silver gives gold a greenish cast.
When metals are added to the gold the result is an alloy, a blended mixture of the metals that you can think of as a very expensive cake batter. Solid gold is a term that can be used to describe an item that's at least 10K (in the US) gold all the way through. Even though it's a gold alloy--18K, 14K, or anything down to 10K--it can be called solid gold.
When deciding on a gold jewelry item there are always many different terms that come up. The most popular are Solid Gold, Gold Filled, and Gold Plated. It is important to know the differences between Gold Filled jewelry and Gold Plated jewelry when making your choice. Solid gold is of course an exquisite piece of jewelry. Gold filled is the next level and is an amazing, quality alternative to solid gold. Gold plating is the lower level and these items tend to tarnish and can often times turn the skin green.
Gold Filled: Gold filled is an actual layer of gold-pressure bonded to another metal. Gold filled is not to be confused with gold plating as filled literally has 100% more gold than gold plating. Gold filled is much more valuable and tarnish resistant. It does not flake off, rub off or turn colors. As a matter of fact, anyone who can wear gold can wear gold filled without worries of any allergic reaction to the jewelry. Gold filled jewelry is an economical alternative to solid gold!
When jewelry or other items are identified as being gold filled, it means they are made from a hollow tube of usually 14K gold (sometimes 10K is used) that is filled with a base metal. The exterior of the gold filled item is solid karated gold and everything you can see or touch is a solid layer of karated gold.
This tube of karated gold is made by bonding the karated gold with the base metal using heat and pressure. With normal wear and tear and careful cleaning, the karated gold will never tarnish, chip or wear off. By law, the layer of karated gold has to be at least 1/20 of the total weight of the entire metal portion of the item.
Using gold filled material is much more expensive than using sterling silver or some type of base metal like copper, but it really cuts down on your cost of goods sold in comparison to using karated gold.
Solid Gold Layered and Filled Jewellery are not to be confused with plated jewellery as there is no comparison. Gold plated jewellery chips, flakes and wears off. Solid Gold Layered and filled jewellery have a very high gold content.
Government Regulation: Gold filled items are regulated by the government. These items are therefore so much better then gold plated which has no regulations at all. Gold filled jewelry is made from solid gold and filled with other alloys such as rhodium (a member of the platinum family), brass, and sterling silver. Gold filled wears, looks and lasts like solid gold because its outer surface IS solid gold. Everything you can see and touch is pure gold. In the jewelry industry the quantity of gold must be at least 1/20th by weight of the total product.
Gold filled is required to contain a minimum of 1/20th total weight of the piece to be considered up to par. This is done by fusing 24 karat gold to a supportive alloy with machinery and equipment that controls the temperature, pressure and time in the process. This fusion is permanent and almost indestructible, almost identical to solid gold. All external surfaces are gold, so the portion of the jewelry that is not seen internally has fillers. So to sum up, gold filled is just as strong, gorgeous and durable as any solid gold piece. No one can look at your lovely gold filled jewellery or wedding ring and tell the difference!
Lifetime Products: Gold-Filled items are generally considered lifetime products, and the gold layer will not wear off, as it will in electroplated products. Gold filled jewelry is often called the wave of the future because it offers all the same characteristics as solid gold such as strength, durability and beauty….but at a fraction of the cost!
Caring for Gold Filled: Caring for Gold Filled items is as easy as caring for any gold jewelry. Simply keep away from chemicals, clean regularly with mildly sudsy water, rinse well and pat dry with a non-scratching cloth. Polish gently with a jewelry polishing cloth.
Can you tell the amount of gold carats in jewelry by looking?
Nine carat gold is 9/24 parts gold by mass, or 37.5% gold. This means that 62.5% of the jewelry is another metal.
Fourteen carat gold is 14/24 parts gold by mass, or 58.3% gold. This means that 41.6% of the jewlery is another metal.
Eighteen carat gold is 18/24 parts gold by mass or 75% gold. This means that only 25% of the jewelry is another metal.
Twenty-two carat gold is 22/24 parts gold by mass or 91.6% gold. This means that the jewelry has only 8.4% other metal. Twenty-two carat gold jewelry is the most expensive as it is nearly pure.
The cost of the jewelry depends not only on the how much gold there is in it, but the cost of the other metals added. Copper is cheap, therefore gold jewelry made with copper is cheaper than gold jewelry made with silver.
Gold is a bright shiny yellow metal. The more you add other metals the duller it gets. You can also tell by looking what other metals have been added.
22 carat gold jewelry will be a bright yellow. Mixed with copper, 18 carat gold will be less bright and 9 carat gold will be dull. If the alloy is with silver or nickel, the colour pales, so 18 carat gold mixed with nickel will be a pale yellow, and 9 carat gold mixed with nickel will look white (and is marketed as "white gold"). Most white gold in Europe is made with silver rather than nickel, as nickel causes dermatitis in some people. 9 carat gold made with silver will be more expensive than 9 carat gold made with copper.
Don't just rely on inspecting the jewelry to tell the carats in it - all good jewelry will be hallmarked by the jeweller to indicate the carat.
Gold is a famously inert metal - that is it doesn't react with any other chemicals. However, some of the other metals used in the alloy do react, especially copper, which corrodes. Thus people with 9 carat gold jewelry made with copper may find that the jewelry tarnishes and goes green or black, leaving marks on your clothes and skin. Therefore to retain the colour, go for the highest carat gold you can affford.