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Does gold-filled wire tarnish?


#1

Hi everyone!

This is my first official question. One of my clients asked me if
gold-filled is the same as gold-plated and since gold-plated
eventually turns green, will gold-filled do the same?

BTW, I’m a newcomer to Orchid and I have been reading everyones Q’s
and A’s over the past month and have learned a great deal.

Thanks to Karen Lechner for encouraging me to become a member,
praising the virtues of the Orchid on-line community and of course
the fantastic raffle, which she won first prize last year. I did
purchase a raffle ticket thinking that I might win through
association ;)…no such luck. There’s always next year !

Thanks!
Joanne Malakassiotis
jewellery artist
www.jomadesign.ca


#2

I have some, that has been sitting for around 10 years and it looks
the same. Gold-filled and gold-plate are two different things. I will
let the metal experts explain.

Eva


#3

Hi,

I use gold-filled as a material a great deal. It is not the same as
plated at all. I haven’t had any of the pieces I’ve made with it
tarnish, which is one reason I love it so much. The other reason I
love it is affordability. I use 14/20 gold-filled whenever my designs
call for gold.

Augest Derenthal
Cry Baby Designs


#4

Joanne,

Yup - gold-filled referring to base metal with a thickness of gold
around the outside, the gold is exposed to the elements (i.e. the
sulphur in the air) and it will tarnish.


#5

Hi, Joanne,

I have worked with Gold Filled for over 20 years. In my experience,
it does not tarnish in the same sense as gold plated. They are 2 very
distinct materials. Gold Filled is made by mechanically applying a
sheet of Gold to a non-precious metal sheet (generally brass). When
applied to one side of the non precious metal sheet it is called
single clad. When applied to both sides of the metal sheet it is
called double clad. The material I use is 14/20 14 Kt gold filled.
There is a 5% 14kt Gold content to this formula (I have been told).
Good quality Gold Filled will not decay like gold plated does. It
does get tarnished like even solid 14kt pieces will if left exposed
to the elements for long periods of time. If you clean it, however,
it comes back to its original shiny state.

There are some things you can’t do with Gold Filled that you can do
with solid gold, such as reticulation and soldering. Because there
are 2 distinct materials in Gold Filled, when heated, they react in
different ways. If melted you end up with something that generally
speaking is not attractive. A more experienced metalsmith can
probably solder this stuff but I haven’t taken the time to really try
it.

Another advantage of Gold Filled over Gold Plated is that for most
people with allergies to base metal, 14kt Gold Filled is
hypo-allergenic. It does not seem to have an adverse reaction on
sensitive skin, as all that touches the skin is the 14kt Gold
surface. You can actually find raw materials like wire and sheet in
14k gold filled that are nickel free. My husband is allergic to non
precious metals and he has no problem wearing it. The price also
makes it attractive even when compared to 9 or 10kt gold.

Please keep in mind that the durability of any jewelry material
depends on the care given to the jewelry piece. I have bracelets I
wear all the time, never take them off, in gold filled that over a
year look as good as they did when I first made them. But I don’t
swim in a pool (chlorine is terrible for jewelry), don’t wear strong
perfumes or heavily perfumed creams, etc. Also, the individual body
of the wearer plays a role in this. If the wearer’s body is acidic it
will corrode the metal (perspiration will). Have you met anyone who
turns Sterling black and Copper green within a couple hours of
wearing it?

I am also an avid Vintage Jewelry collector. Some gold filled pieces
I have are over 50 years old and look as good as new.

Good luck in all your endeavors and welcome to Orchid!

Sincerely,

Vera Battemarco

Vera Battemarco
Couture Artisan Jewelry ™


#6

Hi Joanne,

This is my first official question. One of my clients asked me if
gold-filled is the same as gold-plated and since gold-plated
eventually turns green, will gold-filled do the same? 

Gold fill and gold plate are not the same. Gold fill has a thicker
layer of gold, though I don’t remember the dimensions, and it will
wear better than gold plate. On the other hand, if the gold is
abraded off on either, the underlying brass will be exposed to air
and will oxidize. The difference is that it’s somewhat harder to
abrade off the gold fill.

If the item in question is a ring or any other piece of jewelry that
is subject to abrasion, then neither one is appropriate. Otherwise
gold fill has a much better chance of holding up over time.

Beth


#7
Gold-filled and gold-plate are two different things. I will let
the metal experts explain.

I won’t pretend to be an expert (on anything) but the difference
between gold filled wire and gold plated wire is simply the thickness
of the gold . Gold plated is what it says - brass wire which has a
very thin layer of gold electroplated on. This layer can be just a
few microns thick and is often semi-porous so that acids can get
through it to the brass and cause that to corrode. This then leaches
through the gold and produces surface discolouration. Gold filled
items used to be produced by the same techniques used to make
Sheffield Plate and I assume that the same technique is still used.
That is, a plate of brass and two plates of gold are bound tightly
together and heated to fuse them into one block, this is then rolled
down to the thickness required. In the case of gold filled wire, a
brass rod is threaded down the centre of a gold tube and these are
fused together and drawn down to the finished diameter. The gold
layer in rolled gold should be substantially thicker in rolled gold
and so should not be permeable - therefore it should not tarnish. The
weak part, of course, is the ends and joints which may or may not be
electroplated. Open ends of wire may corrode and the corrosion
products can then force the gold away from the brass or simply
dissolve the brass away leaving a very weak gold tube.

Best wishes,
Ian
Ian W. Wright
SHEFFIELD UK


#8

Hi

Happened to catch this thread about gold fill. I,am new at this
trade and had a question about how do you

apply a gold fill sheet to a silver piece? I.E. a wrist band about
1" wide with a small section of gold fill over a punched design?

Thank you
Kut


#9

Beth,

Please let me clarify a couple of your statements. Gold filled is a
very misleading term that suggests that somehow gold has been placed
IN the wire or plate. Actually the term filled means that the gold
has been pressure bonded to a base metal ( usually wire or sheet) and
that the amount of precious metal constitutes 5% by weight of the
object. The gold coating on gold filled objects is infinitely thicker
than plating. Nonetheless, since we are talking about objects that
are usually made up from plate or wire, the manufacturing process
dictates that said stock will be cut into smaller segments. This is
where the problem lies: the exposed base metal at the ends of the
cut definitely oxidizes and the nasty black oxide makes the object,
(especially chains ) look grundgy. The wear that occurs at the
contacts between articulated joints is very rapid in plated objects
and much less likely in filled objects. Nonetheless, the
aforementioned wear will definitely occur within a short time.
Another advantage of gold filled is that it can be soldered whereas
torch soldering on plated objects will result in vaporization of the
gold plating thus leaving a blackened surface.

Ron Mills, Mills Gem Co. Los Osos, Ca.


#10

I do most of my work with 14k gold-filled and have noticed that over
time the peices that are kept shiny (no satin finish) and made
without soldering do not really tarnish. I however do a lot of
soldering (mostly circles…so the torch only hits one small spot)
and usually finish the peice off with a matte or satin polishing
wheel. Initially this looks GORGEOUS, but unfortunately it does
begin to turn a blackish color…very ugly. because I love the satin
finish, as do my customers, I have found that applying a laquer slows
down the process. It keeps my samples looking fresh for an entire
season…or sometimes even a year. I would assume that with a lot
of wear the peices will tarnish sooner. I have gotten repairs back
where the edges of the peice are darkening, so I will immediately fix
them up. It kills me that this happens because the matte finish is
so beautiful, but I am starting to wonder if I should just keep it
shiny…that is your best bet…to keep the peice shiny
and do not solder it. I can tell you though, i have only had a few
complaints…and those are the peices I had forgotten to
put the laquer on.

Good luck!

Laura J. Designs
Laura Jackson


#11

I have been surprised by the number of people contributing to this
thread who use solder with gold-filled, and my mind keeps trying to
work out solutions to the related problems, which I have never
courted. Just an idea: could you plate over the joint?

If I were going in this direction, I think I would try vermeil
instead of messing with gold-filled. Do the work in silver, solder,
etc, then send it out to be plated. Although vermeil has other
problems–it won’t stand up to heavy wear the way gold-filled
does–you end up with what seems to me like a a classier product for
not all that much more money.

And I wonder…maybe using gold-filled for clasps, earwires, etc.,
in pieces to be vermeiled might obviate some of the wear problems.
Don’t know–never been there, never done that.

Lisa Orlando
Albion, CA, US

PS: I have no noticeable discoloring on any of the gold-filled pieces
I made 4 years ago. Even on the ends of the wires.


#12
If I were going in this direction, I think I would try vermeil
instead of messing with gold-filled. Do the work in silver,
solder, etc, then send it out to be plated. 

Lisa, I’ve been thinking about offering some of my more popular
designs in vermeil, but I know diddly-squat about plating. Where
would you recommend sending pieces for plating? I’d be looking for
someone who would be willing to handle very small orders, say a dozen
pieces at a time.

I make a lot of tie-tack style pins; would I solder the pin (brass
or nickel) on and then have the whole thing plated?

How do you mark/stamp the thing when you’re done?

Thanks, and all the best,

Jessee Smith
www.silverspotstudio.com
Cincinnati, OH 45233


#13

Hi Jessee,

Someone I knew in San Francisco had beautiful vermeil which she had
done for her by W. F. Scott in Pico Rivera, CA–(562) 692-0466. She
said they are very helpful, will do small orders, and have a quick
turn-around.

I don’t know the answer to your other questions, not having ever
worked with vermeil myself. But, searching the archives, I came
across a question I asked about vermeil that I don’t think anyone
answered. So, I will keep your other questions in this post, paste in
the link to mine, and hope that some brilliant Orchidian with lots of
experience working with vermeil can answer all of them.

I make a lot of tie-tack style pins; would I solder the pin (brass
or nickel) on and then have the whole thing plated? How do you
mark/stamp the thing when you're done? 
https://orchid.ganoksin.com/t/goldsmithing-research-question-from-a-fiction-writer

Lisa Orlando
Albion, CA, US