What is Gold-Filled Jewelry?

What is Gold-Filled Jewelry?

A majority of jewelers who are new aren’t aware of the jewelry made of gold. If you’re selling the metal, it’s crucial to be aware of the product in order to clearly describe it to your customers and properly handle it. Here are seven inquiries we receive from our customers. However, before that, let us provide more information on the product.

Gold-filled jewelry is jewelry made up of an indestructible coating composed of gold (typically comprising less than 5 percent of the item’s entire weight) mechanically joined to a base composed of sterling silver or another metallic base. The phrases “rolled gold plate” and “gold overlay” may legally be used in certain situations when the gold layer is less than five percent of the object’s weight.

The majority of high-quality gold-filled items are the same in appearance as the high carat gold. Gold-filled items, even with everyday wear, last from 10 to 30 years, though the gold coating is eventually worn off, and exposes the metal beneath. The gold layer on items that are gold-filled is between 5 and 10 times thicker than that created by standard silver plating as well as 15-25 times thicker than the layer produced by the process of gold electroplating (sometimes marked HGE to indicate “heavy gold electroplate” or HGP for “heavy gold plate”, which do not have any legal definition and are used to indicate solely that an item has been coated).

What is the Definition of Gold-Filled Jewelry? 

Within the United States, the quality of gold-filled jewelry is determined in the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In the event that the gold-plated layer has 10kt or higher the weight of the layer of an item marked “GF” must equal one-fifth of the mass of the object. When the layer of gold is higher than 12 kt and the minimum amount of gold karat in an item marked “GF” must equal at minimum 1/20th of the weight of the product. The most popular stamps that are found on gold-filled jewelry include 1/2012kt GF or 1/2014kt GF. The most common stamp is 1/10 10kt. These are standards for contemporary gold-filled objects. It is common to see 1/8 14kt gold filled marks, as well as a variety of variations on items that date back to the 1940s and 1930s and so on. These items would have been marked “Rolled Gold Plate”. It is important to note that the mark must be “Rolled Gold Plate.” 

The Federal Trade Commission allows the use of terms like “rolled gold plate,” “R.G.P” or “gold overlay” for items that have lower levels of gold than those required to be “gold-filled. “A good illustration would be an object marked with “1/40 10-kt-RGP,” which means that the item is coated with 10kt gold with a thickness that makes the weight of the coating equal to one percent that of other metal components that make up the item.

“Double clad” gold-filled sheet is produced using 1/2 thick gold per side. 1/20 14Kt double clad gold-filled is a layer that’s on both sides of 1/40th 14Kt which makes the gold content total to 1/20. The layer that is thinner on either side doesn’t wear as much as the gold-filled single clad.

Is gold-filled the same as gold plated?

The gold plating process is a small layer of pure gold that has been applied to the base of brass. The plating is not any proportion that can be quantified of the weight of the entire product. It’s estimated to be 0.05 percent at most of the product. Gold plating is prone to be removed quickly, exposing the brass base. It’s not resistant to water, heat or wear and tear over time. For comparison, gold-filled has 55% gold per gram. All of the gold is placed on the surface of the product, providing protection against tarnish as well as wear. Find out more about gold-filled and gold-plated.

Why don’t you have more of your charms cast with gold-filled luster?

The layered metal is not able to be cast; this is one of the major limitations in the kinds of products that are produced in the metal. The products are made of tubes, sheets, or wire, which contain distinct layers of gold and brass. Casting, by definition, is making the metallic material, which can combine the layers to form one massive melting mess.

What causes differences in color between gold-filled objects?

The color of gold-filled items will vary because of the various manufacturing processes employed by the manufacturers. The majority of items are close to the industry-standard “Hamilton” color; however certain products will appear slightly yellower, darker, or have a darker color. Variation has increased as more manufacturers are making use of the product, and consumers’ preferences are shifting. Hamilton color was the norm for several years; however, different markets now require more brassy or yellow gold finishes. Some companies will apply plating layers over the gold-filled, fused material to create the highest polish finish in a different hue. Recently gold-filled products have become well-liked within Asian countries. People in Asia prefer yellow gold, which is similar to alloys with high karat. When manufacturers shift their production to meet the needs of an increasingly global market, we are seeing a more diverse variety of colors in their offerings.

Why don’t we have an item that is gold-filled?

There isn’t anything like a gold-filled solder. The best option is to match the color of the solder joint to the surrounding metal applying 14k gold-colored solder. We do not suggest the soldering of gold-filled jewelry products without having specific equipment and special instruction.

Typically, gold-filled soldering at the manufacturing level is carried out by using laser welders to make precise connections. If you attempt to seller it using a torch, brazing solder or normal gold, you could combine the surface layer of gold with the brass underneath it. The overheated joints will leave an opaque solder stain which is distinct from the surrounding gold. Any brass that is exposed to heat will fade to black, making it distinctive. The only option to repair it is to encase the entire piece in gold so that you can cover the joint and match color throughout the piece. Also, don’t clean or sand the gold-filled piece as it will take away the gold part of the item and reduce the strength of the surface layer.

I need the item in gold. I need the gold item…

Okay, this isn’t really a question; however, it does raise an important question. Certain jewelry designers use the term “gold-filled” items only “gold.” This isn’t gold. It is unlawful to label gold-filled products gold ore to reduce the description to simply twelve kt, or fourteen kt. It is a sign that they are solid metal with higher gold content. Gold-filled is an exclusive material that has to be distinct from solid gold by experts within the field. “Gold” is not an acceptable shorthand and could be a legal issue for fraud. Avoid this negative habit.


Do gold-filled items be tarnished?

Yes, it is possible; however, it requires an extremely rare set of conditions. Gold-filled jewelry items are one-time purchases because the gold layer that is bonded to the brass’s core is dense. In rare cases of extreme exposure to sulfide, it may turn black. This has occurred only once or twice in our many years of experiences:

  • The transit of foreign goods through highly polluted shipping docks has led the product to darken in a variety of instances.
  • The products that are stored in nail salons that contain high levels of chemical sulfide fumes run the risk of becoming black.
  • A fire that was filled with smoke resulted in the structure becoming black.

Extreme conditions. But, it’s caused me to think twice about taking a breath in nail salons. Gold-filled nail polish typically requires only minimal surface cleaning with an untreated, non-treated cloth or mildly soapy water.

Are you allergic to gold-filled?

People who experience skin reactions with gold alloys can react with the gold alloy layer that is on the surface of gold-filled. Certain people’s body chemistry can cause their skin to turn black or develop an itch when wearing certain metals. I am among the people who suffer from this, and on certain occasions, my hands are black around my wedding band of 14kt. Sometimes, a person’s body’s chemical composition can cause the darkening of the metal too.

Gold-filled is a reasonably high-quality alternative to real gold. A majority of jewelry-making supplies made from gold are produced from the USA. We have a variety of charms, chains, and other findings in this top-quality metal that will outfit the jewelry design studio you have with the best materials to design jewelry.

Frequently asked questions

Question: I have a piece of wire, and I’m unable to determine whether it’s gold-filled or brass. I have tried extreme methods of labeling and bagging to distinguish the two kinds of wire, but the wire escaped. How do I discern the difference?

The answer is: Try using flush cutters or a saw for jewelers to create a neat, fresh-cut, then examine the cross-section with magnifying. It should be possible to discern the gold coating on the surface if the substance is filled with gold.

Question: I’m glad I found it; however, I’m a bit confused. I’ve seen many items on Etsy made using gold-filled soldering wire. I’ve considered this, but I’m a bit discouraged. What are the methods used by metalsmiths to do it?

Answer: Take care! It is recommended using a laser or solder-filled wire in order to prevent forming an unnaturally scorched joint, as mentioned in this blog. Find specific guidelines for soldering gold-filled wire to avoid burning that gold-filled layer. Traditional methods of soldering using a torch shouldn’t be employed. If you do, the finished product could look fine for a while; however, exposed brass will darken faster than surrounding gold.

Question: When working with GF pieces that get damaged, what’s the best method to fix them?

A: You are not able to sand gold or use any other abrasives without taking out the gold. Scratches can be polished when they are not too deep but , if they are not, the scratches can’t be removed. The only option is to use plates.

Q: Is it okay to emboss gold-filled items?

A: It is not possible for engraving to go through the gold layer and expose the brass beneath. This exposed metal will rapidly become black.

Q: A lot of the gold-filled chains I purchased over the last year have become darker. I was stunned. So long as it’s sealed with plastic and isn’t worn, it’s okay. However, once it’s taken open for display or worn, it gets dark. It appears to be ugly brass. What’s the issue? How can I get rid of this? I’m really unhappy with gold-filled and would like to concentrate on sterling till I solve the problem.

A: Darkening of this kind is very rare; therefore, it is possible that you might be suffering from a sulfur contamination issue.

Question: All the gold-filled I purchased in the last year has been tarnished. But the one I purchased two years ago from another supplier is in great state. Could these be cleaned even? The manufacturer suggested cleaning with a regular jewelry cleaner; however, I’ve had no results. Do you have any suggestions regarding how to clean?

A: Unfortunately, when GF gets black, you are unable to remove the black as the tarnish has formed within the brass layer that is beneath that gold layer.

Q: I have a piece of wire that I’m not able to tell whether it’s gold-filled or brass. I’ve tried everything from the labeling and bagging process to differentiate the two kinds, but this one got away. What is the difference?

A: Try using flush cutters or a saw for jewelers to make a clear fresh cut. Then, take a look at the cross-section using magnification. You should be able to discern the gold coating on the surface if the material is filled with gold.

Question: Can you explain the reason why gold-filled products cannot be soldered or repaired? It isn’t able to be reworked like silver or gold. A majority of jewelers won’t fix a gold-filled item.

A: Gold filled being a product that has layers, soldering can melt the brass and the gold at the point that the heat is applied. This could either burn off the gold on the surface or melt it with its brass base. Whatever the case, you will get an exposed piece of brass that is on the surface of your jewelry piece, which will darken and appear contrasted with the gold surrounding it. After the brass from the gold-filled piece is exposed, there is only one option to plating the entire piece of jewelry to get rid of the brass and eliminate the color. Based on the structure of the piece of jewelry as well as the presence of beads or stones that are present, plating might not be feasible. In addition, plating isn’t often carried out in-house in jewelry stores. Therefore, this is an activity they’d need to outsource at a significant cost.

Q: How do you remove scratches of a gold-filled pendant? A DIY solution would be the best, but if it isn’t, do you know other methods to get rid of scratches?

The answer is: You can’t do much since sanding takes away any gold layers. The scratches should be small and aren’t noticeable.

Question: Can you tell me if a piece of gold is personalized? 

A: It’s not a good idea, and I would not suggest it. If you are able to engrave too deeply, you’ll damage the brass layer, which will eventually rust.

Q: Hi, I’m looking for a company to cover my sterling silver jewelry (which were already made) with gold-filled layers. Would you be able to help me?

A: There is no way to include the gold-filled layer. Gold-filled is a composite material that is not plated. See our other blog posts regarding the definition of the material as well as specifications. However, you can include gold plating on sterling silver. Any plating service can assist you with this process. They’ll want to know the color of gold and thickness of the piece and also the weight in grams of pieces that you will be plating. 

Q: Are thin gauge gold-filled chains prone to tarnish?

A: It is difficult to get gold-filled items to tarnish, regardless of whether it’s thin or a large gauge since the top layer is always made of gold.

Q: It was mentioned that only in extremely rare circumstances can it get tarnished. What is the reason the necklace has tarnished so quickly? (in two months).

A: I’m not able to answer your question without knowing the location where the item was kept and where it was transported to, which chemicals were near to the item, if any or. Most gold-filled items are resistant to getting tarnished, but this can occur under certain circumstances.

Question: How much percentage is contained in 24k gold plated rings?

A: Here is the gold karat breakdown: 24kt = 100 percent

22kt = 91.6%
18kt = 75%
14kt = 58.5%
10kt = 41.7%
6kt = 25%

The ring you choose to purchase would be a pure gold ring with 24kt gold. 

Question: How long would an 18k gold-filled ring last? How many years will it take?

A: As a legitimate gold-plated ring, it will be extremely soft, and it will all depend on the frequency with which it is worn.

Q: Are there any sealants you can use to protect the edges of a gold-filled wire to stop it from becoming black?

Answer: Beeswax, as well as Renaissance Wax, can help reduce the tarnishing process; however they cannot stop it completely. But, it will only be evident on a big wire. 20ga and lower are typically very fine. I hope this can help!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *