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Types of Gold Jewellery Explained

Types of Gold Jewellery Explained

Are you confused about the different types of gold jewellery? You are not alone. One of the questions I am often asked is 'Is this real gold". So, I thought it appropriate to write a little handle guide that explains the difference between the different types of gold jewellery, including: gold vermeil, gold plated, gold filled and solid gold jewellery.

Image of the official precious metal standard in the UK as operated by the Hallmark Office of the Goldsmith Centre in London reffering to gold, silver and platinum

 

WHAT IS SOLID GOLD JEWELLERY?

Okay, so let's start easy. Solid gold is pretty much what is says on the tin, so to speak.

Jewellery pieces made from solid gold is made entirely of gold, so if your were to saw through your solid gold jewellery piece, which I wouldn't recommend, it would be all gold on the inside as well.

Solid gold is the most expensive and most durable of all the types of fine and Demi-fine yellow gold jewellery designs. However, when shopping for solid gold pieces you also need to look out for which carat it is. The higher the carat, the more fine and precious the gold is, and it also gets deeper, dark and warm in the yellow metal tone the higher the carat.

Solid gold in the UK is categories by the Assay Office of the Goldsmith Company in London, which tests the preciousness and hallmarks all precious metal designs from silver, gold and platinum. It is also the place where the RAW Copenhagen designs are tested for purity in Sterling silver and hallmarked according to industry standards.

The Assay Office in London categorise gold into 9 carat, 14 carat, 18 carat, 22 carat and 24 carat gold, referring to the fineness in the gold by millesimal, aka fineness in gold by parts per thousand, so 9 carat is 375 part gold of 1000 part of mixed metal in purity and would be stamped 375, whilst 14 carat are 585 out of 1000, 18 carat are 750 out of 1000,  22 carat are 916 out of 1000, and 24 carat are 999 part gold of of 1000.

The other metals, or so called so-called alloy, in gold that are not 24 carat, or mostly silver and to a lesser degree copper. As an example lets look at 9 carat gold. 9 carat gold  consists of 37.5 percent gold, 45 percent silver and 17.5 percent copper.

 

Chunky chain gold vermeil chain necklace with a big baroque pearl pendant

 WHAT IS GOLD VERMEIL JEWELLERY?

Gold vermeil is gold plated Sterling silver jewellery, it is an American Industry standard by which the thickness of the gold plating needs to be a minimum of 2.5 microns. This high standard of gold plating makes your jewellery pieces much more durable, like for instance the RAW Sisterhood Necklace featured above. Moving forward all RAW design will become gold vermeil to ensure durability. 

The term is used a bit loosely by some, referring to gold vermeil if the gold plating is  1.0 micron in thickness, sorry for getting technical, but simply is incorrect.

The thickness of the gold plating must be at least 2.5 microns to adhere to industry standards. And with this standard comes the trust in knowing that the plating is of high quality and will last long. 

Further, gold vermeil is one of you best alternatives to solid gold in my view.

It is less pricey, but you know that you piece is still made exclusive with precious metal. If you know you are allergic or simply have a tendency to break out in allergic hives, then gold vermeil jewellery is your safest and more affordable alternative to sold gold jewellery, as you know and can trust, that your piece is made of Sterling silver and plated with gold. According to AllergyUK people with nickel allergy, should only by jewellery that are 18 carat gold in purity or 18 carat gold plated or gold vermeil jewellery over Sterling silver. According to the Food Standards Agency that is 7-10% of the UK population. 

When shopping for gold vermeil and gold plated Sterling silver jewellery outside the UK and the EU please be aware that industry standards vary from country to county. Some countries allow for the use of say nickel in between the silver and gold when plating, as it supposedly binds the gold strongly onto the silver, These practices are illegal in the UK and the EU. If you buy jewellery in the EU and the UK you know that you are safe if you buy gold vermeil, as it is simply gold onto sterling silver. However, if you shop outside this geographical area please check the fine print to avoid any allergic reaction. 

Again gold vermeil jewellery is categorised into fineness by the carat gold use onto the sterling silver, so either 9 carat, 14 carat, 18 carat, 22 carat, or 24 carat gold. All the gold vermeil pieces from RAW Copenhagen I have plated with an extra thick layer of 18 carat gold to a minimum of 2.5 micron in thickness.

 

 

RAW Copenhagen Gold-filled Bellevue Wrap Bracelet and necklace with ethically sourced Australian sapphires

WHAT IS GOLD FILLED JEWELLERY?

Gold filled jewellery is becoming increasing popular for its durability. Gold filled jewellery is made from 2-3 layers of solid gold bonded and pressed onto base metal, consisting of a mix of brass, silver, and more. These layers of solid gold can have different carats, again in the UK we operate with 9 carat, 14 carat, 18 carat, 22 carat and 24 carat gold filled jewellery.
Gold filled jewellery is a good alternative to gold vermeil and solid gold jewellery. It doesn't tend to tarnish easily and it’s much more durable than say gold plated jewellery. 
The gold filled designs I create are made with 14 carat gold filled beads and findings, like the Gold Filled Bellevue Wrap above with gorgeous ethically sourced greenish blue Australian Sapphires.
I decided to use gold filled materials for these and a few more bracelet designs, as we tend to wear bracelet everyday, and they are therefor often in contact with perfume, water and more on the wrist on a regular basis, so wanted them to be durable.
However, if you have allergic tendencies stick to gold vermeil. Most designs I can do in both, so simple send me an email at raw@rawcopenhagen.co.uk.

 

Necklace layering with a number of the bestselling RAW necklace, all gold plated sterling silver, some to gold vermeil standard

WHAT IS GOLD PLATED JEWELLERY?

Last, you have gold plated jewellery which is a much broader category.

Initially it is important to differentiate between gold plated Sterling silver, which is still considering Demi-fine jewellery, as it is made with precious metals, namely gold onto Sterling silver, and it therefor upholds it's silver value.

This is opposed to gold plated base metal like brass amongst others, which falls into the category of fashion jewellery.

Gold plated base metal jewellery designs can still be super cool and beautiful, but it is much less precious, super cheap to make, and if you have a tendency to allergies, please ask the seller what the gold is plated onto if not specified in the description, so you don't wake up with a nasty surprise of a green neck or a nasty rash from say a necklace with nickel in it.

Pending the thickness of the plating, gold plating is the least expensive alternative to solid gold, however the durability of the plating is much shorter. sometimes the thickness is as low as .1 or .5 microns, accordingly, the plating is much more fragile and less durable

 

WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE JEWELLERY?

As sustainability is not just about how a designer sources his or her metal, and how he or she makes a design and through which process, but also about how durable a design it, I am moving towards 18 carat gold vermeil, and to a lesser degree 14 carat gold filled standard for all my designs, and all thinner plated sterling silver jewellery pieces are being faced out.

This does make the designs a little more expensive, but then you also know as a customer that the pieces will last for you. Additionally, I will be making more and more of my designs available in recycled solid gold upon request.

I hope this little blog post has created a clearer picture for your in terms of which types of gold you want to invest in, and please feel free to ask me any questions in the comment section below, or simply send me an email to ask me a specific question at raw@rawcopenhagen.co.uk

 

All the best 
Karina 

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