Today we are continuing our metal series with gold-filled, a cheaper alternative to solid gold. While gold-filled is not as valuable as solid gold, it should not be confused with gold-plated, as the two are very different. Gold-filled items are 50 to 100,000 times thicker than most gold-plated items, making them much more valuable and resistant to tarnish. Unlike gold-plated items, gold-filled items will not rub off or turn colors either.
So what exactly is gold-filled? Gold filled items are made from solid gold (ranging from 10K to 14K) and filled with other alloys such as rhodium, brass, or sterling silver, making gold-filled a more affordable alternative to solid gold. Gold-filled consists of several mechanically bonded layers, which are created when the base metal is put through a process of mechanically bonding and heating the gold to the base metal.
Even though gold-filled is not as well-known as other metals, it has played an important role in the jewelry industry for over 150 years. It was originally developed to help reduce costs of jewelry and other “gold” items without sacrificing durability.
Like most metals, gold-filled items are regulated by the government. (On the other hand, gold-plated items are not regulated and therefore much less valuable). In the jewelry industry the quantity of gold must be at least 1/20th by weight of the total product.
Since gold-filled has an actual layer of solid gold, it looks and wears just like “real” gold. Gold-filled is strong and durable yet only costs a fraction of solid gold jewelry. Since your gold-filled jewelry does not tarnish, it is also very easy to clean. All you need is a mild soap and water solution and a soft polishing cloth.
While we use gold-filled to make many of our necklaces and earrings, we cannot use it to make our engagement rings and wedding bands, since we use the lost wax casting technique to hand make all of our commitment jewelry. The lost wax casting technique requires us to melt down the metal to its liquid state, and since gold-filled is made out of gold and another alloy the two would melt together.