On its own, gold is too soft for use in handmade jewelry making. Gold filled findings and beads are used because their appearance gives them the advantages of a solid gold object, but with the strength of a base metal.
They are also much cheaper because gold filled findings and beads use less precious metal.
What are gold filled findings and beads?
Also known as "gold overlay" or "rolled gold", gold filled findings and beads begin with a base metal such as nickel or brass.
Under high pressure and heat, a thick layer of gold is bonded to this base. The overall result is typically 18K, but can depend on the manufacturer.
Why use gold filled findings and beads?
Using gold filled findings and beads in your work combines the strength of the base metal with the appearance of solid gold. Additionally, gold fill will also not tarnish like gold plated metals. This is because gold filled findings and beads have one hundred times the amount of gold on its surface.
Gold plating uses an electrochemical process to deposit gold on the surface of other metals. This explains why the layer of gold is much thinner than gold filled findings and beads. The gold on these types wears off much easier than with similar gold filled findings and beads.
Gold vermeil, or gold vermeille, involves a similar production process to gold filled findings and beads- but it uses a sterling silver base metal. The silver will tarnish beneath the gold, producing pieces that darken with time and wear.
Gold filled findings and beads holds their color much longer by comparison, and can be worn over a lifetime.
Using gold filled findings and beads
Gold filled findings and beads can sometimes turn skin black that it comes into contact with. This chemical reaction occurs more commonly when there is a lower percentage of gold in the alloy. This should not cause discoloration of the gold filled piece itself- just the surface of the skin.
By choosing gold filled findings and beads, you will be receiving the luster of real gold with the durability and strength of the base metal. This makes gold filled items extremely useful in jewelry-making.
You can use gold filled findings and beads to produce beautiful, golden jewelry with the durability to last, for a fraction of the cost of real gold.
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