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Gold Wire 1

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SOLID GOLD, GOLD-FILLED & GOLD PLATED WIRE

Gold-Plated Jewelry WireThis article discusses the differences between solid gold, gold-filled and gold-plated jewelry wire and or beads.  In general, there exists a perception that anything that isn't solid gold isn't going to stand up to normal wear and tear.  Many people have purchased gold-plated jewelry in the past only to have the gold flake off, or wear off.  This negative experience with gold-plated wire has tarnished many peoples perception of gold-filled jewelry wire.  Let's discuss the differences.

Solid Gold Jewelry Wire:

First, solid gold jewelry wire is as the name implies made of the same material throughout.  Unfortunately it isn't made of solid pure gold.  Jewelry that is sold as solid gold is generally a gold alloy that is usually 18 kt, 14 kt, 12kt or 10kt gold.  To determine the actual gold content you need to divide the kt number by 24.  24kt gold is pure gold.  18kt gold is 18/24% gold or 75% real gold with the remaining 25% being determined by the specific alloy of gold.  This 25% determines the color of the gold.  Similarly 14kt gold is 14/24% or 58.3% gold.  The reasons that alloys of gold instead of pure gold are used are 1. gold is too rare and expensive to be used in its pure form for jewelry, 2. the alloys of gold are stronger and last better than pure gold and 3, many people prefer different colors of gold than the color of pure gold.  The color that most of us associate with gold is actually the color of "yellow" gold.  24kt gold has more of a reddish tint than what we normally think of as gold.

Gold-Plated Jewelry Wire: 

Gold-plated jewelry wire is made by an electro-chemical process similar to the reaction in a car's battery.  A wire of a conductive material (copper or silver) is placed in a liquid solution containing a chemical salt that includes gold.  When a current is applied between the wire to be plated and another electrode, the gold in the salt is deposited onto the wire.  In general, because of the process employed, the plated gold is 24 kt gold and not an alloy of gold.  In addition, because of the method employed in the plating the thickness of the actual gold plated onto the wire is a few molecules thick.  This is thick enough that you can't see through it, but it is very, very, very thin.  So thin that a surface scratch will pierce the gold-plating and show the base wire underneath.  For this reason, gold-plated jewelry wire does not stand up to wear and tear and is not appropriate for rings or bracelets.  Because of the electro-chemical process used in plating the wire, frequently a minute amount of nickle will also be plated on the wire.  Many people find they are allergic to the nickle impurities present in plated wire. 

Gold-Filled Jewelry Wire: 

The manufacturing process for making gold-filled jewelry wire is a mechanical process and not a chemical process.  In making gold-filled jewelry wire, a thin wire of gold alloy is physically squeezed around a larger wire of gold colored metal.  Since gold is the most malleable (easily bendable) metal, this can be done easily and with precision.  The end result is a jewelry wire with the outside of gold alloy and a central core of gold-tone metal.  With gold-filled jewelry wire, the wire will be sold by the kt content of the gold use and the percent thickness of gold alloy.  The gold-filled wire that we sell is 14/20 gold-filled.  The means that the gold content is 14kt gold alloy and the thickness is 1/20th or 5%.  In this case, the outer 5% of the jewelry wire is 14kt gold alloy and the center of the wire is a gold-tone metal.  Fortunately, you can't see the center.  Because the outer 5% of gold-filled wire is real gold alloy, this wire will stand up to wear and tear and will actually be stronger that solid gold.  (Because gold is so malleable, it isn't as stiff or sturdy as gold-filled wire.)  For this reason, gold-filled wire is excellent for making bracelets and other jewelry items that require the ability to withstand wear and tear. 

Gold-Filled or Gold-Plated Jewelry Wire - Which to Use: 

First, use solid gold (alloy) wire when making expensive pieces that you will sell in an upscale market.  Second, use gold-plated wire for items that do not receive a lot of wear and tear or scratches, like earrings.  Please note the because the plating is 24kt gold that this wire will have a different color from solid gold or gold-filled wire.  Finally, use gold-filled wire for your personal jewelry and for any gifts that you make.  No one will know that it isn't solid gold and it will look the same and wear even better.

Summary on Gold-Filled - Gold-Plated - Gold Comparison:

This paragraph discusses the differences between solid gold, gold-filled and gold-plated wire and or beads.  In general, there exists a perception that anything that isn't solid gold isn't going to stand up to normal wear and tear.  Many people have purchased gold-plated jewelry in the past only to have the gold flake off, or wear off.  This negative experience with gold-plated wire has tarnished many peoples perception of gold-filled wire.  Let's discuss the differences.

First, solid gold jewelry wire is as the name implies made of the same material throughout.  Unfortunately it isn't made of solid pure gold.  Jewelry that is sold as solid gold is generally a gold alloy that is usually 18 kt, 14 kt, 12kt or 10kt gold.  To determine the actual gold content you need to divide the kt number by 24.  24kt gold is pure gold.  18kt gold is 18/24% gold or 75% real gold with the remaining 25% being determined by the specific alloy of gold.  This 25% determines the color of the gold.  Similarly 14kt gold is 14/24% or 58.3% gold.  The reasons that alloys of gold instead of pure gold are used are 1. gold is too rare and expensive to be used in its pure form for jewelry, 2. the alloys of gold are stronger and last better than pure gold and 3, many people prefer different colors of gold than the color of pure gold.  The color that most of us associate with gold is actually the color of "yellow" gold.  24kt gold has more of a reddish tint than what we normally think of as gold.

Second, let's discuss how gold-plated jewelry wire is made.   Gold-plated wire is made by an electro-chemical process similar to the reaction in a car's battery.  A wire of a conductive material (copper or silver) is placed in a liquid solution containing a chemical salt that includes gold.  When a current is applied between the wire to be plated and another electrode, the gold in the salt is deposited onto the wire.  In general, because of the process employed, the plated gold is 24 kt gold and not an alloy of gold.  In addition, because of the method employed in the plating the thickness of the actual gold plated onto the wire is a few molecules thick.  This is thick enough that you can't see through it, but it is very, very, very thin.  So thin that a surface scratch will pierce the gold-plating and show the base wire underneath.  For this reason, gold-plated wire does not stand up to wear and tear and is not appropriate for rings or bracelets.

Third, let's discuss how gold-filled wire is made.  The manufacturing process for making gold-filled wire is a mechanical process and not a chemical process.  In making gold-filled wire, a thin wire of gold alloy is physically squeezed around a larger wire of gold colored metal.  Since gold is the most malleable (easily bendable) metal, this can be done easily and with precision.  The end result is a wire with the outside of gold alloy and a central core of gold-tone metal.  With gold-filled wire, the wire will be sold by the kt content of the gold use and the percent thickness of gold alloy.  The gold-filled wire that we sell is 14/20 gold-filled.  The means that the gold content is 14kt gold alloy and the thickness is 1/20th or 5%.  In this case, the outer 5% of the wire is 14kt gold alloy and the center of the wire is a gold-tone metal.  Fortunately, you can't see the center.  Because the outer 5% of gold-filled wire is real gold alloy, this wire will stand up to wear and tear and will actually be stronger that solid gold.  (Because gold is so malleable, it isn't as stiff or sturdy as gold-filled wire.)  For this reason, gold-filled wire is excellent for making bracelets and other jewelry items that require the ability to withstand wear and tear. 

Finally, let's discuss when to use which.  We prefer to use gold-filled wire for your personal jewelry and for any gifts that we make.  No one will know that it isn't solid gold and it will look the same and wear even better than solid gold.

 

 

 

 

 

 



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