The composition of gold-filled beads can be confusing for customers. Misconceptions abound, leading to improper handling and disappointment with jewelry designs made from these popular beads. What does “gold-filled” really mean? In this segment, we’ll break down common questions, taking the mystery out of gold-filled beads to help you make the best jewelry supply choice for your beading designs.
How are Gold-Filled Beads Made?
Gold-filled beads and gold-filled name plates feature a layered construction. They may be single-clad, featuring a single layer of gold on one side; double-clad, with gold on surface layers of two sides; or wire-clad, surrounding the material. A brass core is typically used. Gold is bonded by heat and pressure. To be labeled as such, gold-filled beads must be 5% or 1/20 gold by weight. This is typically marked in karats on the surface, such as 12 or 14kt gold-filled, stamped as 12/20GF or 14/20GF.
How Can I Tell the Difference Between Gold-Filled & Solid Gold?
Gold-filled items must be clearly labeled as such. Shortened 12kt or 14kt descriptions should not be used, as this is confusing and implies a solid gold content. It is illegal/deceptive to refer to gold-filled items as simply “gold.” Reputable retailers selling bulk jewelry making supplies clearly distinguish these two products.
What’s the Difference Between Gold-Filled and Gold-Plated?
Gold-plating is not the same as gold-filled. Plated products feature a very thin layer of gold which does not compose a measurable portion of its total weight. Gold-plated products have little protection and do not stand up to heat, water, or friction, wearing quickly.
Why Are Some Gold-Filled Products Different Colors?
As more manufacturers enter the global market and customer preferences shift, you may see variations from the typical “Hamilton” industry standard gold color, including tawny, yellow, and darker tones.
Do Gold-Filled Beads Tarnish?
Gold-filled beads rarely tarnish due to the thick layer of gold applied to the brass beneath. However, in rare instances of sulfide exposure it may blacken. This highly unusual occurrence can happen in extremely polluted shipping docks, in nail salons with high concentrations of chemical fumes, and in places where fire damage has occurred.
Why Can’t I Find Gold-Filled Charms?
Gold-filled beads feature a layered construction. Charms are cast, and cannot be made gold-filled, as this process involves melting metal materials. Attempting to create a charm this way would produce a big, mixed melted blob of brass and gold.
Why Can’t I Find Gold-Filled Solder?
Gold-filled solder does not exist. Though you may find 14kt gold solder elsewhere, soldering gold-filled jewelry is not recommended. It requires specialized laser welding equipment and training. Attempting to do so can result in dark solder stains and exposed brass, which becomes easily tarnished.
Are Some People Allergic to Gold-Filled Jewelry?
Individuals who react to gold alloys will also react to gold-filled beads.
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