When buying gold and silver jewelry, you should know the difference between them, especially the difference between Gold filled, Gold platted, and pure Gold. There is a very distinct difference between the three types of Gold jewelry available on the market today. Here I will take a look at these differences, as well as the difference between regular Sterling Silver and Argentium Sterling Silver. So let’s begin our look at Gold and Silver and the different types on the market. I plan to add Titanium in as well, since I will be using it in my creations.
We’ll start with the three different types of Gold jewelry.
Gold Plated: A metal item that has a very thin layer of gold applied to it. The thin layer normally wears away more quickly than gold in a gold filled item. Gold plated jewelry has a thin coat of gold deposited on the base metal by the process of electroplating. Gold plating can be applied on a variety of metals. Gold plating will flake off and look "tacky" very quickly. Gold Plating is what "costume jewelry" is made from. (I only use Gold plated wire in my "costume jewelry" section. I clearly note costume jewelry as being Gold plated).
Gold Filled: Gold filled jewelry has 14 Karat or 12 Karat gold bonded by heat and pressure to a stronger core metal (usually brass). The bond is a permanent one. This technique of bonding should not be confused with gold plating because the processes are completely different and there is approximately 100 times more gold in gold filled than in gold plated wire.
Gold wire made through this process is called "gold filled" because it is basically a gold tube filled with some other metal. Because the outer, thick layer IS gold, it looks like gold, will not tarnish like gold, wears like gold, and will be durable for a lifetime. People who are allergic to metals other than gold may wear gold filled jewelry with out problems. Gold filled jewelry is NOT costume jewelry. In the United States gold filled jewelry is required by law to be at least 1/20 gold by weight. However a gold plated item has a very thin layer of gold that easily wears off over time. (My Gold jewelry is made with Gold filled wire.)
Gold: Pure gold is 24K. Since it is too soft for most uses, it is alloyed with other metals to achieve a desired hardness, color, and melting point. Silver and copper are the most commonly used additives, but many other metals can be used. The relative amount of gold in an alloy is called the karat.
All 18K gold contains 75% gold. In order to achieve the various colors, alloys are added making up the remaining 25%. 18K yellow contains 15% silver and 10% copper. 18K white gold contains 25% palladium. White gold can also be alloyed with copper, nickel, and zinc. Some 18K gold is stamped .750, indicating 750 parts out of 1000 are gold.
All 14K gold contains 58% gold. 14K yellow gold is alloyed with 25% silver and 17% copper. 14K rose gold contains 32% copper and 10% silver. 14K green gold contains 35% silver and 7% copper. 14K white gold has 42% palladium. Some 14K white gold is stamped 580.
Vermeil: is sterling silver with a heavy 14Kt gold plating. This is STILL gold plating though, and it will easily wear through to the sterling silver underneath. (I do not use Vermeil in my creations)
Now let’s look at Sterling Silver and Argentium Sterling Silver.
Sterling Silver: Pure silver, like pure gold, is much too soft for most uses, therefore it is, alloyed. Many metals can be used, but copper is preferred since it toughens the alloy without detracting from the bright shine of silver. The small amount of alloy added in sterling silver makes the silver much more durable and less susceptible to scratching and marring. Sterling is the alloy most commonly used in jewelry manufacturing and silversmithing. Sterling silver is 92.5 % silver and 7.5% copper. It is often stamped .925.
Pure Silver: Pure Silver is 0.999 fine or 99% silver and 1% alloy. Fine silver is considered by many to be too soft for fabrication and use in many forms of jewelry.
Argentium® Sterling Silver 925: Argentium® Sterling Silver 925 contains at least 92.5% fine silver, but replaces a small amount of the copper that is usually the other 7.5% with germanium.
Argentium® Sterling Silver 970: Argentium® Sterling Silver 970 is like Argentium® Sterling Silver 925 except that it contains at least 97% fine silver.
Why use Argentium® Sterling Silver 970 instead of fine silver?
1. It improves the tarnish resistance even further than AS 925.
2. Those who have trouble wearing regular sterling silver jewelry should have little or no trouble wearing AS 970 because of it's low copper content.
3. It‘s much harder! AS 970 can be precipitation hardened in the same manor that you would harden Argentium® Sterling 925.
There are government regulations controlling the marking of gold and sterling. Most fine jewelry is stamped, and collectors are wise to check for appropriate markings.
How should you care for your Gold Filled or Sterling Silver Jewelry?
Perspiration, chlorine, swimming pools, and salt water will take their toll on all fine jewelry. Wipe jewelry carefully with a soft, clean cloth to help keep it clean from these elements. Storing your jewelry in zip-lock bags will also help prevent oxidization. For jewelry that is PURELY either Gold or Gold-Filled or Silver or Sterling Silver, you may use a commercial liquid jewelry cleaner, or let the jewelry soak in a bowl of warm water and mild dish soap for additional cleaning. Rinse thoroughly and allow to air dry.
All of my jewelry is handmade. So each piece will vary slightly. I tediously look over each earring to find a matching set, but cannot get them "identical". My music note jewelry is made with Sterling Silver, and/or Gold filled wire. I create each note from a single straight piece of wire myself, they are NOT bought from a mass producer. If you would like a jewelry piece in colors different than what I have listed on my site, please e-mail me for price and availability of supplies. In some cases I may have to order the specific stones you want from our jewelry findings supplier.
Length guidelines will help you figure out how a necklace length might look on your neck. (It is recommended, however, to measure your own neck to get the most accurate idea before purchase.)
I strongly recommend that you measure your own neck to get the most accurate idea before you purchase because every persons neck size is different. What will be a choker on one person, may literally choke another person. A 16 " necklace will fall gently just below the neck on some people, but on others, it will be a perfect choker length.