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Let's Chat About Gold Filled

I mean, what is it anyway? 

The quick answer is: a reasonably priced, high quality alternative to solid gold. Unlike plating, it’s often considered a lifetime product.

We all know that gold-plated or silver-plated jewelry has a short shelf life and here’s why: It’s a cheap way to make very inexpensive materials (known as base metals) look like something they're not. This process involves giving the base object a magnetic charge in a solution with microscopic bits of gold that have the opposite charge. Like two magnets, the gold and base are attracted to each other and… bing, bang, boom… an electrical charge holds an impossibly thin layer of gold to the surface of your jewelry. Because the layer is thin and the bond is relatively weak, your gold-plated stuff will inevitably (and sometimes quite quickly) wear off and leave only the tarnished base metal underneath.

jewelry with plated layer worn off

With 14/20 gold-filled, a minimum 20% (by weight) layer of solid 14k gold is heat-bonded to brass in a process that's somewhat similar to soldering. So, unlike plating, the gold is physically and permanently attached to the base. And it’s a MUCH thicker layer of 14k gold that won’t rub off or chip. You get the look and feel of solid 14k gold but without the extreme cost. And, unlike plating, it makes items you can wear day after day without them turning into something you don’t recognize. That’s it! If you're still curious, keep on scrolling for more commonly asked questions about gold filled and my best attempt at answering them. 

14k gold yellow gold filledgold plated

What about gold filled vs vermeil? 

Here's the thing. I'm not going to knock Vermeil pieces, we have a few (rosary chains and certain charms) that we use. For those of you wondering, vermeil is when sterling silver is plated with gold. Doesn't sound too bad, right? But the plating is a very thin layer, and will come off at some point. Then you are left with a silver piece. Again, not the end of the world, BUT companies tend to charge a pretty penny for vermeil. To me gold filled is the CLEAR winner in terms of value, which is why we chose to build our business on it. 

Why is it more expensive that "gold dipped" jewelry?

Friends, "gold dipped" is just a churched up way of saying plated. And unless a piece is specifically listed as vermeil, that super thin layer of gold has just been electroplated over a base metal. The term "gold dipped" sounds magical until that gold rubs off and your fingers turn green. With gold filled you are getting a gold product that can last a lifetime, thanks in part to the thicker layer of gold that is involved and the heat bonding process. It's worth the extra $. And just think about how much less expensive it is than solid 14k, you savvy shopper you. 

Cool, cool. So how do I keep it clean?

We have a little post about our favorite ways to keep your jewelry clean (especially our pieces) here. But with gold filled, you can care for it the same way that you would solid 14k. Easy peasy! 

What colors of gold does 14k gold filled come in?

We offer all of our designs in 14k yellow gold filled, and MANY in 14k rose gold filled. I have yet to come across white gold filled, but honestly, we probably wouldn't use it anyway. I mean, I still heart sterling, you know? 

Is it going to turn my skin weird colors?

No. Unless solid 14k gold does that to you, which is super, duper, DUPER rare. SO... I guess technically it's "probably not," but in the "99.99+ percent" kinda way.

Basically, if solid 14k gold doesn't affect you, 14/20 gold filled won't either. Because solid gold is all your skin ever touches!

Does it "turn"? 

Nope! I mean, if you sit in a sulfur laden hot spring for 48 hours straight something weird might happen. Or expose it CONSTANTLY to nail salon fumes, but other than those unrealistic circumstances, you should be good! 

That being said, sometimes the delicate chains can start to look like they are blackening, but really it's just that they are dirty. Dead skin, grime from lotions and sunscreen, that sort of thing. Gross, right? 

What about water?

Want to know a dirty little secret? I'm kind of lazy with my jewelry. I go through phases and wear the same thing for weeks on end, without ever taking it off. In fact, I have some stacking rings on my thumb that haven't come off in a good two years. I like to do really sweaty workouts in my jewelry as well. I also swim in a chlorinated pool 4-6 times a week during the summer. Oh! And I do shower, so there's that, too. 

woman's hand with sterling silver and 14k gold filled thumb rings

Thing is, my jewels look good as new. Actually the stacking rings are shinier than they originally were! All our jewelry is safe to sweat in and wear in water, if your body chemistry allows for it. Which it almost certainly (based on our experience and over 10 years in business) will. So...YAY!