Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Gold filled chain breaks after pickling

I soldered jump rings to connect a gold filled chain to a pendant and clasp. I put it in vinegar pickle and when I removed the completed piece, the chain breaks with only a slight tug on it. What is happening to cause this? Should I not pickle in vinegar?

The acid “etched/ate” the base metal under the gold coating as “breaks” in the electroplated gold skin. I do not like “gold filled” items at all. It cheats the unknowing buyer and sometimes the unknowing seller. It would be far better and more honest to
call such chain (and other items) gold clad, gold electroplated or some such as “gold filled” is VERY misleading as a description. At least this is MY thinking about it.

John Dach

To be 100% safe, just avoid using the word “gold” as the buyer will assume IT IS gold!
Just let them know it’s just a “base metal” and has no gold in it’s manufacturing.
As for repairs, one word, “DON’T” !!!..;(

gerrysdiamondsettingessays.blogspot.com

Gerry, on my iPhone

Thank you for your input. I’m not a jeweler and learned to work with argentium and 18k gold. I made my granddaughter this pendant out of 10kt but was trying to save money with the gold filled chain. Think I’ll stick with what I know :grinning:

Gold filled is not the same as gold plated. The processes for producing the two materials are entirely different. Also, gold fill does not mean that the piece is some kind of homogeneous gold alloy.
Whereas gold plated material is produced via electroplating to various thicknesses, gold filled material is produced via a mechanical process. It is the same process used to make Sheffield plate but with some karat of gold as the overlay material rather than Sheffield plate’s sterling overlay.
There are any number of articles on the web which explain how gold fill and Sheffield plate are produced, but here’s a quick description.

A thin plate of gold (or sterling in the case of Sheffield plate) is joined via diffusion bonding to a thicker substrate of a base metal. The critical criterion is that the base metal must have the same malleability/ductility as the overlay. Then the joined plate is rolled or drawn to the desired final thickness/gauge. Since the gold/sterling overlay and the base substrate have the same malleability/ductility the relative thicknesses of the two metals remains the same as they are rolled/drawn down.
Gold filled material will be marked with both the karat of the gold and the percentage by weight of the overlay. A mark of “1/20 14KGF,” for instance, means that the overlay is 14K and the gold layer makes up 5% of the weight of the plate or wire. The gold layer of gold fill is far heavier than that of gold electroplate and it will take many years of normal wear before the gold layer is worn through to the underlying base metal.

That said, I’ve no answer to why a vinegar pickle would weaken a gold-filled chain. Gold filled sheet and wire usually has a brass base, as brass can be alloyed to have the same malleability as a karat gold. Generally mild pickles, like vinegar, will not adversely affect copper alloys. I’d take the chain back to the supplier to try and find out why that happened.

1 Like