Uses for Goldfill Wire

How do folks feel about using this for their lower-priced pieces?
Particularly those aimed at children and those in their early teens?
How well does it wear?

Is this product generally known by the public and understood for
what it is? ie. does the public get confused and sometimes think they
are buying something that is a gold alloy all the way through?

Is it also available in silver?

How is it to work? Does the gold coating chip off where you cut it?
Does it come in various grades of hardness? Can it be annealed with a
torch?

Thanks,
RR Jackson

I started out using gold fill wire in many of my pieces for the
simple reason of keeping costs down for those who, like myself,
prefer the color of gold but the price of sterling. I’ve cut it,
hammered it, filed it, sanded it, soldered it to itself and to
sterling, etc. I still have some of the pieces I made in this manner
over a year ago - and they look fine - a little dull perhaps, bu t
fine for the price, I think. When I began to sell these pieces
though I became concerned about the parts where the base metal would
inevitably come through the gold coating- any part that had been cut,
soldered, filed, and so forth and what would happen over time. I
continued to use the gold fill wire, but would send the pieces out to
be overlaid with a thin (20 micron) layer of 18K. I’ve since gone
over to working all in sterling and having some pieces vermeiled with
100-micron layer of 18K over sterling. The end result is better in
quality and appearance and it simplifies my production.

Another point on gold fill is that you can buy different grades - my
understanding is that 14/20 is 14K with 20% gold content over a base
metal (while 12/10 would be 12K with 10% content, etc.).

And no, people often don’t know the difference between gold fill,
vermeil, and gold plate - gold plate being just a very thin wash of
gold over a base metal - but you can make it clear to them in your
pitch.

Finally, I’ve found the people at Red Sky Plating to be very helpful
with questions related to plating - they are in Albuquerque.

Good luck,
Meredith
www.mamodern.com

Hello, “Freak Style”!

I would pitch gold- and silverfilled to the public as the plywood of
precious metals. Layers “glued” with heat and pressure. Maybe call
it gold-clad? Advise the buyers to use very little abrasive in
polishing the piece, and no abrasive whatsoever on merely plated
pieces.

Silverfilled, from my inventory, is available only in sheets. It
usually ends up in those tea-tray sized rodeo trophy buckles. Silver
market prices need to rally much more to justify making silverfilled
wires. There is a German-made copper wire that is heavily
silverplated. Quality stuff.

Precious metal laminates can separate from the base underlayer. It
seldom happens, and a reputable dealer will replace the bad batch
with good stock.

Laminate wires are stocked dead-soft and half-hard. I know nothing
about torch annealing. Probably to be avoided.

–dan, IJS

Since my market is mainly low-end, I use sterling silver and 14k
goldfill almost exclusively. Many people are familiar with it
because it is offered at places like Mervyn’s dept. store, and other
mid-to-low-end dept. stores. I am, occasionally, asked to explain
the difference between goldfill, solid 14k, and plated gold, so be
prepared with the answer. Goldfill is a bonded process where a thin
sheet of gold is bonded, through heat and pressure, to a core of base
metal, usually bronze or brass. The resulting product has a karat
weight of 1/20th gold; thus, the marking 14/20. It is also available
in 12k, so be sure which one you’re getting.

I believe that T.B. Hagstoz carries white as well as yellow
goldfill.

14k goldfill wears quite well in bracelets, pendants, and necklace
findings. Many of my pieces are still being worn after 18 years, and
look just fine. Even wire rings when worn constantly can last for
2-4 years, or longer, without losing their gold layer. The gold does
not chip off, but as with any metal, even solid 14k, it wears through
over time. The cut edge of the sheet or wire will be base metal, so
this end must be concealed so that it does not touch the skin.

You can order in dead soft, half-hard, or full hard; again through
TB Hagstoz. Rio Grande carries some, also, but not as many choices as
Hagstoz. Annealing, I believe, can be done, but one must be very
careful. If it gets too hot, the base metal can effect the gold
layer. It’s best to order in the hardness you want.

I have encountered customers who have been told by "expert jewelers"
that it is the same as “solid” 10k gold. Obviously, this is not so.
It is 14k gold that you see; therefor, it is a match to solid 14k in
color, 10k gold is not. My math isn’t great, but it seems to me that
the source of this comment is referring to the actual amount of 24k
gold in the finished product.

For those who want the look of 14k gold, but cannot afford solid
gold jewelry, goldfill is a wonderful alternative. It is not,
however, for those who suffer from metal sensitivities.

Bev L
Renaissance Jewelry
www.wirewrapjeweler.com