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
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
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!
Couture Artisan Jewelry (tm)