GOLD-FILLED JEWELRY: THE BASICS



Q: WHAT DOES GOLD-FILLED MEAN?



A: Gold-filled jewelry (also known as ‘rolled gold’ or ‘gold bonded’) consists of a thick layer of pure gold mechanically bonded to a base metal (usually brass) with intense heat & pressure. This is a permanent bond so that the gold won’t flake, peel or fall off. 



REGULATIONS:



According to federal law, gold-filled jewelry must contain a minimum of 5% (or 1/20) gold by weight. It cannot be legally sold as gold-filled jewelry if it contains less than the required 5% amount. In comparison, most gold-plated items on the market only have 0.05% or less actual gold content by weight, making gold-filled jewelry more durable.



KARAT WEIGHT:



The creation of gold-filled jewelry involves wrapping a pure gold sheet around a base metal; then applying heat to fuse the two layers together.


The karat number of a gold-filled piece really refers to the purity of the gold sheet that wraps around the base metal. Therefore, if a gold-filled piece is 10 karats, it contains an outer coating of 41.7% pure gold. Underneath that top layer, though, there is another base metal or alloy.


The majority of gold-filled jewelry on the market is between 10 and 20 karats.



THE THICKNESS OF THE LAYER:



The thickness of the gold layer is an important characteristic that determines how long your gold-filled jewelry will last. This is because a thick layer of gold will wear down more slowly than a thinner layer. Most gold-filled jewelry is wrapped in a gold sheet that is between 0.03 and 0.1 millimeters thick.



DURABILITY:


The longevity of gold-filled jewelry depends upon the thickness of the gold layer and how many karats it contains (lower karats often last longer as they contain less pure gold, which is too soft and leads to heavy jewelry scratches). However, higher-karat gold is less prone to tarnishing.


While some gold-filled jewelry pieces can last up to 20 or 30 years, most only last between 3 and 8 years before the gold starts to wear off. Factors that affect how long your piece will last include how often you wear it and how well you take care of it.



THE MARKINGS OF GOLD-FILLED JEWELRY:



Gold-filled jewelry is usually stamped with the letters GF, along with the item's karat number and gold weight. For instance, if you come across a piece stamped "1/20 14K GF," this signifies that it is gold-filled. There is an outer layer of genuine 14-karat gold, and the weight of the gold equals 1/20th of the piece.


Items with the letters RGP (rolled gold plate) stamped on them have a thinner outer layer of gold than items that are simply labeled GF.



WRAPPING UP:


Gold-filled jewelry is a good alternative to solid gold jewelry if you’re looking for something that is more affordable but still has a similar appearance. It is also more durable than gold-plated jewelry and will last longer with proper care. When shopping for gold-filled jewelry, be sure to check the karat number and the thickness of the gold layer to ensure you are getting a quality piece that will last. Thanks for reading!