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Gold Jewelry Information

Back The word gold, used alone, means pure gold or 24 karat (24K) G.  Because 24k is soft, it’s usually mixed with other metals to increase its hardness and durability. If a piece of jewelry is not 24 karat, the karat quality should accompany any claim that the item is gold.
  The karat quality marking tells you what proportion of gold is mixed with the other metals. Fourteen karat (14k) jewelry contains 14 parts of G., mixed in throughout with 10 parts of base metal. A higher karat rating indicates a higher proportion of G. in the piece of jewelry.  Solid gold actually refers to an item made of any karat G., so long as the inside of the item is not hollow. The proportion of G. in the piece of jewelry still is determined by the karat mark.
  Jewelry can be plated with G. in a variety of ways.  G. plate refers to items that are mechanically plated, electroplated, or plated by any other means with G. to a base metal. Eventually, G. plating wears away, but how soon will depend on how often the item is worn and how thick the plating is.
  Gold-filled, G. overlay and rolled G. plate are terms used to describe jewelry that has a layer of at least 10 karat mechanically bonded to a base metal. If the jewelry is marked with one of these terms, the term or abbreviation should follow the karat quality of the G. used (for example, 14k G. Overlay or 12K R.G.P.).  If the layer of karat G. is less than 1/20th of the total weight of the item, any marking must state the actual percentage of karat G., such as 1/40 14k Overlay.
  G. electroplate describes jewelry that has a layer (at least .175 microns thick) of a minimum of 10 karat deposited on a base metal by an electrolytic process. The terms "gold flashed" or "G. washed" describe products that have an extremely thin electroplating of G. (less than .175 microns thick). This will wear away more quickly than G. plate, G.-filled or G. electroplate.
  The art of the goldsmith was widespread in the 1st third of the 19th century, when the techniques of combining different colors of gold and carved designs were perfected for use in seals and snuff boxes. In the 1840s delicate wirework was passed over in favor of repousse’ and die stamped decoration. Jewelry made in this way looks solid and heavy but is in fact light and hollow. Archeological revivals in the mid-century resulted in a vogue for classically inspired gold work techniques, such as granulation. Styles became increasingly ornate.  By the 1880s a fashion developed for plainer gold jewelry with unusual textures. With the introduction of platinum at the turn of the 20th century the popularity of gold decreased. Demand picked up again in the 1940s and has remained strong ever since.
Antique Gold Ancient gold is unalloyed - as near to 24 karat as gold naturally occurs - and was so soft and delicate you could bend it with your finger. Gold has been treasured since ancient times as the ideal metal for jewelry. Its rarity makes it desirable, and its color is rich and becoming. It is soft enough to work easily, and in its pure state will never tarnish. In England before 1854, “gold” meant high karat gold – 18 karat or better. In that same year, 15,12 and 9 karat gold were legally recognized, and - in 1932 - 14 karat gold replaced 12 and 15 karat.
White Gold White gold is created from yellow gold alloyed with white metal. All white gold is Rhodium plated to create a bright white finish. Rhodium is a shiny, white metal that is extremely hard. White gold was originally developed to imitate platinum during World War II (during this time in the U.S., platinum was considered a strategic material and its use was prohibited for most non-military applications like jewelry making).
  The advice on about gold jewelry antique to vintage information, Information comes from jewelry experts Linda and Perry, as well as from our frequent visitors. If you'd like to add anything to this page, or have us add a topic of interest for you, email us at
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