Gold, part 2 of 2

Gold, Part 2 of 2: Platings

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides guidelines for correct terminology when describing gold used in jewelry.  These guidelines apply only to items made in the United States.  Other countries may have different guidelines.

Gold Filled (also called gold overlay):

Gold filled jewelry is made by using heat and pressure to apply a layer of karat gold to a less costly base metal.  The surface layer of karat gold on gold-filled items is usually 10kt, 12kt or 14kt. To know the thickness of the layer, look for a fraction, such as 1/10 or 1/20. Examples:

  • 1/10 10kt GF: 1/10 of the total weight must be 10kt gold.
  • 1/20 12kt GF: 1/20 of the total weight must be 12kt gold.

Gold fill is 50 to 100,000 times thicker than regular gold plating, and about 17 to 25,000 times thicker than heavy gold electroplate.

Gold Vermeil (pronounced vehr-MAY):

Gold vermeil is a plating of karat gold over sterling silver. The FTC guide states “An industry product may be described or marked as “vermeil” if it consists of a base of sterling silver coated or plated on all significant surfaces with gold, or gold alloy of not less than 10 karat fineness, that is of substantial thickness  and a minimum thickness throughout equivalent to two and one half (2 1/2) microns (or approximately 100/1,000,000ths of an inch) of fine gold.”

Gold Plated:

Gold plating is a very thin deposit of gold (about 1/1,000 – 1/1,000,000 of an inch).  Heavy gold electroplate might be 2 or 3/1000s of an inch thick (this can also be written as 2 or 3 mils).  Many gold-plated items have a white nickel plate under the final gold plate.  Gold plating can be worn away relatively easily.


Photo by Paolo Ciccone

Mochi’s Gifts Jewelry:

I use gold-filled beads, clasps, and ear wires for my designs. This is the best way to provide you with a durable, high quality piece of jewelry featuring gold components at an affordable price. I also use gold vermeil beads to get the beautiful color of high karat gold without the high cost.

The earrings pictured here feature gold-filled earwires and headpins (the straight wires the beads are on), gold vermeil puffed square beads, and garnets.

Thanks for reading!


Sources for information on gold used in jewelry:



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