What is Gold Filled?
If you ever wondered what Gold Filled really is, read on. Many think Gold Fill, Gold Filled, or Rolled Gold is the same as plated jewelry. Well, they are not and they are so much better! Read on to find out why.
Gold filled has an actual layer of karat gold on the outside. It can be melted for gold content and recovery. It lasts a long time, some of the bracelets in the image above are over 100 years old. Best of all, most people who have allergies to plated jewelry have no issues when wearing Gold Filled jewelry.
The Gold is bonded by heat and pressure. Two sheets of karat gold (sometimes a single one) and one sheet of brass or copper are arranged as a sandwich with the non-precious metal at the center. The three sheets are heated and passed through a milling machine which resembles a pasta maker. The heat and pressure create a permanent bond between the three sheets. In the old days, it was also called rolled gold as it was rolled through the mill.
Back of Krementz Jewelry insert pamphlet describing the process.
There are different marks for gold fill which depend on the actual gold content. The smaller the fraction number the more gold it contains. Some are 1/5, 1/10, or 1/20 and the outer layer can be 10k, 12k, 14k, and even 18k as in some Art Deco wristwatches. Marks will be 1/10 10k, for example, the most common being 1/20 12k. That means the thickness is 1/20 12k. It doesn’t sound like much but it is a huge difference when you consider that the gold layer on most plated jewelry is measured in Microns, which is a thousandth of a millimeter.
Other marks are 10k GF, 14k GF, and 18k GF. Some older pieces will have marks that read Gold Shell (generally one of the thickest layers of Gold) or Rolled Gold.
On antique pocket watch cases, you will see “Warranted 15 Years” for 10k Gold Fill or “Warranted 20 Years” for 14k Gold Fill.
As you can see on this insert from Krementz above they used the term “Gold Overlay”. Krementz pieces are often gold-filled. They were so proud of their technique that they often did not mark their jewelry as gold-filled. They felt the quality of their pieces would speak for itself. These pamphlets were included with the jewelry which was sold at fine jewelry stores and beautifully boxed.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, there was no government mandate for gold or gold-filled marks. Many beautiful pieces of gold-filled jewelry from that time are not marked at all. There are ways to tell if a piece of old jewelry has a good chance of being gold-filled without acid testing. That will be another post at a later date.
We carefully test all jewelry to determine its content.
Gold filled has the look and richness of solid gold at a fraction of the cost. Go ahead, stack it up!
Browse Gold Filled in our collections.
Frequently Asked Questions
✨ How long does gold filled jewelry last?
You may as well be asking how long does Gold last – A long time! Some of the jewelry we sell is over 100 years old.
✨ Is gold filled jewelry hypoallergenic?
Yes, gold filled jewelry is a great option for sensitive skin and many find it a better option than plated jewelry
✨ Does gold filled jewelry tarnish?
Yes, but generally more slowly than many other types of jewelry. The rate at which is tarnishes depends on the purity of the gold used. The closer to pure gold (24 karat) the less it will tarnish.
✨ Is Krementz jewelry real gold?
Many Krementz jewelry pieces are made with a layer(s) of karat gold enveloping a non-precious metal (gold filled jewelry). Such pieces have a much higher gold content than plated jewelry.