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Trouble with gold-filled ID bracelets

Hi everyone, I’m hoping someone can point me in the right direction.
My company sells medical ID bracelets, and we’ve had real problems
with our gold-filled jewelry wearing very quickly. From many
sources, I read that gold-filled should last a long time, but this
is not the case for us we are getting many unhappy customers
(rightfully so!) returning their bracelets and necklaces to us. In
some cases, the pieces have only been with the customers for 2

I’ve tried to upload a photo here, of a rather extreme example:

(I’ve smudged out the engraving to protect the client.) Basically,
the gold layeris wearing away at the edges, exposing the base metal
underneath. It is 10K DGF. The plates are being engraved, but it is
not at the engraving where the gold is wearing away, it is at the
edges. The plates are NOT being polished or otherwise abraded - they
are engraved, linked to chain and clasp of choice, and sent to the
customer. (They do go for a dip in the ultrasonic for about 1 minute,
in order to remove polish from jump ring only.) If this is a supplier
issue, can you tell me how to intelligently communicate with my
vendor? If this is an issue with gold-filled, can you suggest
alternatives? (Archived posts suggest 8K gold - is there such a thing
as 2, 3 or 4K gold?) This jewelry is worn by people with a medically
necessary reason to be wearing it, so often times, it is being worn
24-7. Could this be part of the problem? (If so, then again, can you
suggest an alternative?) Is it possible that certain people react
more with gold-filled (for example, a diabetic?) I hesitate to post
this and put my company’s name out there as selling inferior
products, but I’m really anxious to find a solution. At this point,
I’m ready to suggest “gold-tone” stainless - at least it would be
less expensive! Any insight would be welcome and appreciated.

Thanks, Holly.

I am not certain gold fill is the product you should be using. The
central element in the bracelet is blanked out so the edges are bare
of any gold. The base metal under the gold is not very corrosion
resistant. The combination of the gold and the base metal along with
moisture and salt from the skin forms a battery also known as a
corrosion cell. This corrosion dissolves the base metal and the
activity is going to be greatest at the edge of the gold and base
metal leading to the base metal being eaten out from under the gold
and the gold flaking away.


James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts

Gold filled, properly described is a sandwich of a karat gold over a
base metal. Usually the designation is given like this 1/20 12K GF,
or whatever the Karat designation is. It appears that the karat
stamp doesn’t come up to the standard. I have no way of knowing what
the actual carat is by that stamp, or how much actual gold is in the
piece. I’d really complain to the supplier on this one. Another
thought, as Gold filled is a sandwich, the stamping that this plaque
is made from will have the edge of the piece exposed showing the base
metal. This will react to skin acids and start the corrosion process
and cause premature wear. Looking at the photo the, I don’t think
that’s the problem. It appears that the piece just has too thin a
gold overlay. For the legal standard and descriptions of proper
stamping you might check here: [PDF File]

This gives a very useful description of gold filled terms. You may
have recourse if the manufacturer didn’t adhere to those standards.

Best of luck,

Holly, while gold alloys less than 10K are not legally gold I believe
that would be an alternative. I have worn a stainless medical
bracelet almost 14 years, since my gold filled one showed similar
wear and I learned more about jewelry and metals. If I’m dressing up
and wearing gold, I’ll wear my gold filled one. Stainless is
practical. A gold tone stainless sounds good if it 5 is not a surface
product. The wear on the gold-filled is because it is a surface
product and bracelts get subjected to a lot of abuse, esp in the
kithen. JaN Lalor

Trouble with gold-filled ID bracelets Thank you so much for the
responses. I suspected that the trouble was being caused by the base
metal being exposed at the edges. Jim, thank you for your excellent
description of the human battery! Does anyone know if there is a
process to “gold-fill” an entire piece, including the edges? Or
would it help to plate the entire piece, so the edges at least have a
flash of gold on the edges? I am about to start wear tests on
stainless and titanium plated product (“gold-colored”) to see how
they perform on a daily basis. Although gold-filled has been popular
with our customers as a less expensive alternative to gold, with the
market price, gold-filled isn’t really that inexpensive an option
anymore! Many thanks for the education, Holly.