A couple points to remember. Shiny is simply surface finish. You
can't tell if it's gold or not, or the quality, by the degree of
shine. A plated or otherwise applied gold finish could be either
dull, a bright sheen, or highly polished, depending on how it's
applied, and over what surface.
Gold plating is often put on in quite thin layers, for obvious
reasons. Even a heavy gold electroplate can be a bit porous, or
permiable to both oxygen, and slow migration of substrate metals. If
you gold electroplate directly over silver, for example, over a few
years the gold color will greatly fade or disspear, as the gold
diffuses into the silver, and the silver diffuses up through the
gold. Gold plate directly over copper, and the finish can tarnish.
it's a 24K gold plate, but it's thin, and the copper underneath can
oxidize directly through the gold, affecting the appearance of the
gold. Thin plated layers simply should not be thought of in the same
terms of permanence as solid metal.
A "baked on" gold finish suggests the sort of gold material used in
ceramics. It's a finely divided gold salt in a liquid binder. You
paint it on. When dried and fired, like a ceramic glaze, the binders
burn off and the salt reduces, leaving a thin gold layer bonded to
the material, which will have whatever surface finish (including very
shiny) that the underlying material has. Especially if not fired hot
enough, the result is sometimes not quite a durable as one might
expect a gold electroplate on metal to be, and it can flake off a
little over time. Since glass beads are not conductive, this might
be how your gold is applied. When you see gold decoration on china,
and often glass, this is often how it's done. Alternatively, if it
was actually electroplated (with or without subsequent baking, which
might have some benefit on glass, though I don't know that), then it
needed some sort of conductive layer first, to allow the
electroplating action. That's usuaully some base metal applied as a
paint, or chemically applied, and if the gold is thin, then you could
get oxidation throught it.
In short, the question is probably not whether it's 24K gold. If
they say it is, it probably is. The real question is how is it
applied, and how durable is it. I'd suggest simply describing to your
customers how they can expect it to appear after a bit of time.
Also, as to a lacquer over the gold, it occurs to me that some
gold/glass beads are hollow, with the gold being on the inside, not
the outside. Lasts a lot longer since it's protected from abrasion.
But dirt inside the beads, if the gold isn't thick, can affect the
Hope that's of use.