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Is gold fill acceptable in fine jewelry?

Hi everyone,

I have been using argentium headpins for quite a few years and
although they do tarnish slower than sterling they still tarnish
over time into a dull grey finish (not very pretty) I much prefer
using gold headpins with semi-precious beads, they give such a rich
color in comparison. The obvious drawback is the fact that gold
headpins are expensive. My question is. when making fine jewelry
would it be acceptable to use gold fill headpins? I would of course
add a solid gold clasp and ear setting etc. but, if I was to add
bead detail would it be acceptable to used gold fill ?

Hope you can help with this one, it is a major stumbling block for
me right now.

All the best to you all

Fine Jewelry and gold filled do not/are not interchangeable at lease
as far as I am concerned. Are you REALLY trying to make "fine
jewelry"or are you trying to pull the wool over someones
eyes.!?!?!?!?! If you bought a gold ring and then found it to be
plates, what would you thinkeeeeee?

I am not a jeweler, I do bronze art castings, and in this field
there are “cast bronze” art pieces and there are bronze filled resin
castings. Which is the fine art piece and which is a rip off piece?

You would be fine making jewelry out of copper wire and busted glass
bottle glass, it is just not “fine jewelry”. Even using
semi-precious stones and/or low percentage metals makes it not very
precious, at least in my mind.

I don’t want to come down on you hard but I want to be clear as to
what is and is not fine jewelry…


There are those who think anything other than gold or platinum is
totally unacceptable. May they always carry an umbrella when it
rains, so their poor noses in the air don’t drown them :wink:

Seriously - what you use is up to you and your customer base - what
do they want/expect? What are they willing to pay for? You can’t use
gold if you need to sell to the bottom end market - they won’tpay
for it. On the other hand, if you are reaching the high end market
they will absolutely expect solid gold.

I’ve seen stunning work using a variety of base metals as head pins

  • truly drop dead gorgeous stuff. The makers used the inherent color
    of the metal as part of the composition - and it worked. Buyers of
    this sort of art jewelry care much less about the material, and much
    more about the art value - is it original and creative and a
    conversation piece? These pieces can be quite expensive, so it is
    not a price issue here, but a creative art issue…

In my own work I sell to a range of markets, so I use everything
from base metal to solid gold - depends on which market I’m
designing/making for…

Beth Wicker

IMO, if you use gold filled for any component, you might as well not
use anyKarat gold. You pieces can only be sold or marked as gold
filled. Just go with Karat gold if you want to consider your jewelry
to be fine jewelry

Steve Wandt

I wouldn’t.

If the clasp is stamped as karat gold the assumption by the
purchaser is that the entire piece is karat gold.

Gold filled components are not generally considered kosher in "fine"

I would make pieces with either all gold filled findings or all

Have fun and make lots of jewelry
Jo Haemer

Thanks for your replies,

The last thing I want to do is pull the wool over anyones eyes.
Please do not be concerned John, I would never try to take advantage
of my customers. I am aware that gold filled has to be stamped as GF
and brought to the customers attention. I use a lot of headpins and
the costs really escalates when using 18k headpins, the weight is
also a factor I had in mind when I posted my enquiry. I have no
experience with this material and I was curious to see what kind of
ranking it had in the business and amongst jewelers. Thank you most
sincerely for your feedback.

Not wanting to compromise the quality of my pieces stood strong in
my mind at all times, Gold was always going to win but, I had a
little nagging curiosity about this product and I wanted to hear
your views and experience on the subject.

Thank you all very much!
All the best


Oops! My post should have ended with the word gold filled not gold.
Stupid IPad and it’s auto correct.


I just did a fairly high status project for a newly elected bishop.
It is a 14 karat, solid gold pectoral cross that weighs 60 grams. It
hangs on a 1/20 K 14K Gold filled chain. An appropriately sized chain
in solid 14K gold would have doubled the price of the project. The
donor and the bishop chose a very nicely made Gold filled chain and
saved themselves several thousand dollars. I encouraged this choice
and feel no shame for it.

I wish there was a “like” button on Orchid. I would have clicked it
for Beth’s statement:

There are those who think anything other than gold or platinum is
totally unacceptable. May they always carry an umbrella when it
rains, so their poor noses in the air don't drown them ;) 

All the best,
Steve Walker

The chain is not an integral part of the jewelry piece…does not
effect the value or quality

At my local county fair, several pieces of jewelry in competition
were downgraded because the necklaces did not contribute to the
overall presentation of the piece. I suspect that a customer would
feel the same way. Gold filled jewelry is a cheap way to get the
appearance of “real” gold. A customer who is only looking for the
appearance of gold won’t pay full gold price for the pendant, and a
customer who wants full gold won’t accept anything else.

Thomas Hammett

Pardon the late reply…

In a word,:If you are stamping your jewelry with a karat indication
you cannot -legally- use anything other than karated gold.

  • and you could mark it if the weight of the piece was mostly 14 or
    18 Kt with one of those stamps, then backslash with a stamp then a
    9Kt /.5% If you like- you may need a custom stamp to make the typeface
    small enough.

To keep it all “fine” you must use all gold in any karat (although 9
karat is internationally legal, it’s “pushing the envelope” so to
speak! but is far less costly than even a low karat gold like 14).

If you are using a good bit of fine silver or even sterling in your
work pieces and want to you can use 24 or 23 Kt gold leaf on the
headpin parts exposed to add an accent and then it can still be
stamped either .999 or sterling- it is not vermeil - but you are
using real gold for purely design and perceived value effect however
it is in such a small amount that it cannot be indicated on the piece
even if you build layers.

Gold filled is simply not fine jewelry… rer