What Is Gold Fill and Why JulieAnn Jewelry Uses It
Gold Fill has been around for many years, but yet, most people are not entirely familiar with it, so I will be distinguishing between Gold Fill vs Solid Gold vs Gold Plated, so that anyone having questions regarding their purchase from JulieAnn Jewelry, will have the facts to make an informed decision. Although Gold Fill is a great product, it is not for everyone. There are many types of metals used for jewelry making today, although I am only going to be explaining the difference between three of those metals, including Solid Gold, Gold Fill, and Gold Plated.
Several Types of Gold Fill Available
Gold Fill consists of a center core of brass, and the outer layer is actually Solid Gold of a specific amount. There are several types of Gold Fill available, however, there are some that are more prevalent and readily available than others. The most used types of Gold Fill wire are 14kt/20 GF and 12kt/20 GF. Let me explain the numbers. The first number you see in the titles are either 14 or 12. This is explaining the content of the outer gold layer, and the amount of solid gold that should be present. Most everyone is aware of the fact there are 18kt gold, 14kt gold, , and 10kt gold. Well, with gold fill, this is the exact same material that is on the outer layer of the brass core, so you can expect this metal to act the same as a solid gold item of similar content. This means that the outer layer of any Gold Fill item is actually made with solid gold, however , the 2nd number in the title of the gold fill is what is important to understand completely, yet is most often misrepresented by jewelry artists. The number 20 you see in each title, is actually referring to the amount of gold in the entire product weight. Most jewelry artists think and represent this as 20%, when actually, it means it is 1/20th solid gold by weight, minimum. This is quite a bit less than you are being told by those who represent it as 20%. So, if you do the calculations correctly, you would know that the real content of solid gold in a 14kt/20 gf item is really 5% of the total weight of the item, and it is all on the outermost part of the material. So if you are dealing with a round wire, then you should expect the top 5% of the wire to consist of solid gold, in either 14kt or 12kt , and the rest of the wire will actually be brass underneath. To give you a better example, a hollow tube of gold is slipped over a solid round wire made of brass, allowing the outermost part of the wire that makes contact with skin, to be entirely made of solid gold.
Gold Fill is a High Quality Item
However, it is not, under any circumstances, solid gold. It will act like solid gold for several years before it wears through the 5% outer layer of solid gold, at which time the brass core will be revealed. Once this happens, it is time to replace your jewelry. Gold Fill is definitely a great product for those who like jewelry, but do not want the added expense of a solid gold item. You can purchase a Gold Fill item for approximately 6-10 times less than you would expect to pay for solid gold, which allows most people to purchase a quality piece at an affordable and fair price. It will look and wear exactly like the solid gold counterpart, for as long as the outermost 5% layer of solid gold remains in tact, which brings me to the next part of the equation. How long can you expect to get from your brand new piece of 14kt/20 GF jewelry item? The answer to this will vary, mostly due to the type of jewelry it is, as well as the thinness of the piece itself. First, you have the type. From experience, I can tell you that rings will endure more abuse during their lifetime than a necklace will, due to the fact that rings will come in contact with more items during wear than a necklace will. So therefore, I will tell you that a high quality set of gold fill rings will give you up to 10 years before needing replaced, but the necklace of similar gold fill quality, can last up to 20 years, due to the fact it does not have as much contact with other items while being worn. Rubbing against other items is what usually causes wear the fastest on a gold fill item. Polishing often also contributes to wear of the gold fill layer on any gold fill item. So limiting the amount of times you polish an item, will actually prolong the life of it.
The second reason for considering the durability and wear on a gold fill item is the thickness of the item itself. What this means, is that a thicker item such as a 10g (2.5mm diameter) wire, will have a thicker gold layer than a similar round wire of thinner size, such as 18g (1.0mm diameter). This is due to the layer of gold on the wire itself, being calculated as 5% of the total weight of the item. If the item itself weighs more, then of course, so will the layer of solid gold on the item. Keep this information in mind when considering all gold fill jewelry purchases, because thicker jewelry pieces will last substantially longer than the thinner ones of similar shape.
Comparing Gold Fill with Gold Plated
If I were to compare Gold Fill to gold plated, I can only say that the amount of gold on a gold fill item is regulated by the government, whereas, gold plating has no regulation whatsoever. Gold plated items can vary from one piece of jewelry to the next, even when they are the same lot of material being manufactured. You can buy items that are gold plated with as little as .5 microns to as much as 2.5 microns, but to give you an idea of the amount of gold on this item, compared to a gold fill item of exact replica, is going to be anywhere from 1000 – 10, 000 times thicker of a gold layer in the gold fill item than the gold plated item. Plating can last anywhere from a few days to a few months at best, and it will need either thrown away, or re plated. However, plated items are so cheap, that re plating them is really not cost efficient, because having an item gold plated can cost as much as 10 times the actual price of the item itself, due to the fact that gold plating is done in large batches, rather than individually, and when you try to have a single item plated, they are charging for the entire process on one piece of jewelry, rather than on 10, 000 pieces they plated in a batch at the manufacturer, costing the consumer the entire price of the process.
Gold Fill compared to solid gold, is quite a different matter.
You are still getting a quality piece of jewelry with gold fill, however, solid gold is always going to outlast gold fill, because the item made with solid gold, is exactly that, solid gold through to the center, and this means you can never wear off the layer, because the entire piece is all gold. There is usually a hefty price tag with this as well, because gold prices are at an all time high. I pride myself in offering both gold fill and solid gold items, so that the consumer has the ability to choose what is best for them. They must weigh their options by understanding completely what they are purchasing when they are choosing between gold plating, gold fill, and solid gold. I believe in educating my consumers on the facts of each metal type, which allows them to make the best decision based on facts.