Types of Gold Jewellery Settings can be confusing. There are many types of grades of gold, and we have explained the basics below. Sometimes we’re asked, “Why isn’t this item hallmarked?” and we explain here. This blog explains the basic metallurgy (metal composition) of various kinds of gold, how or when gold needs to be stamped and hallmarked (and how to advertise it for sale). We’ll also explain how gold reacts to different customers’ skin types and atmospheres, including an explanation of gold plated items turning skin black or green.
A word of warning – many cheap findings from China will be “9ct” stamped, but that doesn’t guarantee they are actually 375 solid 9ct gold! If in doubt, scratch a bit off in an inconspicuous area and leave it in water to see how it reacts. If it rusts, it’s not solid gold! Or use a 9ct gold testing kit like this one on Amazon
Types of Gold
- Gold Leaf
Gold leaf (either solid gold or gold filled, see below) can be applied to pieces such as polymer clay beads with a brush and adhesive, or added inside resin. Resin items containing gold leaf are a perfect way of adding that gold look without worrying about tarnishing or expense of buying Types of Gold Jewellery Settings. We sell both gold-filled leaf and genuine gold leaf in various karats here and the results are stunning.
- Gold Plated Base Metal
We don’t sell gold plated base metal findings as they are usually seen as low quality. You will notice that the pieces look beautiful at first but the gold will eventually start to wear away or flake off. Gold is applied in a very thin layer on top of a cheaper metal, such as bronze or copper, and when it wears off you’re left with the base metal which will usually discolour a customer’s skin and look like it’s rusting or going pink. When you’re first starting out as a breastmilk jeweller, you’ll find gold plated findings more affordable and some of your customers may not mind receiving it*, so long as you’re open and honest about the metal type. The problem is, as clear as you are in your product descriptions, many clients will never bother to read them and will assume you’re using solid gold (even at very low prices). A good product label would be “Gold Plated Bead”, for example.
Here at Keepsaker Supplies, we recommend you use base metal findings like these bronze open bezels for your practice and budget pieces. This is the first piece I ever made, a bronze placenta heart necklace, and I took it on national TV and This Morning presenter Holly Willoughby said it was gorgeous! There’s no need to use gold plated findings!
- Gold Plated Base Metal
- Gold Leaf
- Mokume Gane
Mokume gane us a Japanese technique of rolling different precious and non-precious metals in sheets to produce a beautiful wood grain effect. This is a metal blend we would love to use in the future in our Types of Gold Jewellery Settings. Often this type of metal contains gold of any carats.
- Keum Boo
Keum boo is a Korean guilding technique which you can read about here on Wikipedia. It’s popular amongst metal clay artists and is perfect for statement pieces. Thin sheets of gold (but thicker than gold leaf) are applied to other metals such as silver with pressure and heat, usually in small sections to add gold accents. Some people use a hot plate with their silver piece on top then burnish the keum boo on with a curved burnisher and pressure.
Gold-filled jewellery is a slice of base metal, such as bronze, sandwiched between two layers of solid gold (or a rod of base metal wrapped in a layer of gold). Sometimes the core can be silver but I’ve never come across this. The benefit of gold-filled to you as a jeweller is that it can be formed into jewellery such as rings unlike gold vermeil (below) which must be plated after forming. The benefit to your client is that the gold layer is unlikely to wear away unless the piece is damaged, so they are a great affordable alternative to solid gold.
We now offer a selection of gold filled rings, findings and settings here!
- Mokume Gane
- Gold Vermeil or Gold Plated Solid Silver
Gold vermeil is an inexpensive alternative to solid gold and I really love it. We offer a range of gold vermeil findings and settings here for memorial and breastmilk jewellery making. It is solid silver that is plated with gold. To be advertised as “gold vermeil” in the USA, a piece must have at least a 2.5micron thickness of gold but this is not legal in the UK (gold plated silver can have at most 2 microns) so you must call these findings from us gold plated solid silver. The benefit of gold vermeil is that it’s more affordable than solid gold, and cast pieces such as crown point settings can be plated after production, which isn’t possible for gold filled items. They’re also 100% precious metal, which some clients prefer to gold-filled (which contains base metal).
Unfortunately the gold will wear away on vermeil eventually, the time depends on the use and wear of the item, and the client will need to find somewhere local where they can have it re-plated occasionally.
- Solid Gold
Probably the world’s most common solid gold Types of Gold Jewellery Settings is 9 carat, 9ct or 9k and is called 375 gold. It’s compromised of 37.5% pure gold, the other 62.5% is usually a mixture of other precious metals and base metals such as copper and silver. The copper is added to gold to strengthen it (gold is quite a soft metal). 14ct gold which is more popular in the USA, and we use this gold in our Tree of Opals and Keepsaker Supplies studio. It is 585 purity, which is 58.5% pure gold and 41.5% other metals. 18ct gold is 750 (75% pure) and 24ct gold is 99.9% or 100% pure gold. The drawbacks include ethical concerns about the way the gold was gathered (we always use recycled gold, wherever possible), this Fairtrade Article explains some of the problems of mining gold.
The Difference Between Rose, White and Yellow Gold
All gold is yellow. There is no such thing as red, pink or rose gold. There are however gold alloys which appear rose, red or pink, so when we refer to coloured gold we mean coloured gold alloys. The colour of gold alloy varies with the percentage of other metals used in the alloys.
Gold is yellow and copper is red, the only two coloured pure metals. All other metals are white or grey in colour. The addition of copper considerably heightens the yellow colour of gold, the alloy passing through different grades of yellow to red-yellow, and finally to the rich red of copper, as the proportion of copper is increased. But if silver and a small amount of zinc is added to rich red copper and gold alloy then the alloy adopts the characteristic colour known as ‘rose gold’.
Birmingham Assay Office
Types of Gold Jewellery Settings, Stamping and Descriptions
- Gold Hallmarks
In the UK, according to the Hallmarking Act 1973, individual items made of solid gold must be hallmarked if they are equal to or above 1g in weight. If you have a 0.7g pendant and a 0.9g chain then neither need to be hallmarked so long as they can be separated without the use of tools. Some of the items available for sale on Keepsaker Supplies are 1g in weight or higher, so are required to be hallmarked for sale to customers in the United Kingdom. You may find the weights in other countries lower, so please double check with your country’s assay office. It is your responsibility to check the legalities of marking gold for resale in your country.Our items are sold wholesale, unset and unfinished, business to business, so we are allowed to sell un-hallmarked items that are to be finished by the buyer so if you are a goldsmith and would like to receive our solid gold items semi-finished and hallmark them yourself, please get in touch for a discount. Our parent company, Tree of Opals has been a registered sponsor with the Birmingham Assay Office since 12th October 2016 and here is our dealer’s notice.
- Gold Stamping
Solid gold items can be stamped as a guide to the metal purity, this is required in the USA! This blog gives a guide to stamping but we can’t attest to its accuracy. To be on the safe side, please check with your local authority for the legislation and requirements in your area.
In the UK, for an item to be advertised as gold, you should include the fineness of the silver as advised by The British Hallmarking Council here, even if the item is light enough not to need hallmarking (see below). Our solid 9ct gold headpins, for example, are under 1g but can be advertised as solid 9ct gold. Other countries’ rules differ, the gold we sell here at Keepsaker Supplies is sold as “partially finished”, so for non-UK customers you should enquire about restrictions for selling silver in your country.
- Gold Hallmarks
Types of Gold Jewellery Settings Turning Skin Black or Green
You probably should cover this question in your jewellery care instructions and your terms and conditions, you could even write your own blog to go into depth. One of the first things you need to do as a breastmilk jeweller is educate yourself about the basics of jewellery care, both for resin jewellery and precious metals. We’re covering resin jewellery care in another blog.
For gold we don’t often hear of tarnishing. For gold vermeil silver please see our Types Of Solid Silver blog as they are gold plated silver. You should always be aware that some customers will be more prone to their metal causing discolouration, especially on rings. A simple Google search will show you that solid gold can turn black or green and that doesn’t mean it’s “fake” or “low quality” or “silver plated”, it’s due to the copper content and is less of a worry the higher carat value the gold has. There are various factors that can exacerbate tarnish and copper transfer, such as the heat and humidity, how much the customer sweats (and the pH/composition of their sweat!), whether they use hand lotion or alcohol gel, how much they wash their hands and the soap they use. Tarnish is more of a problem in 2021 than ever before with people handwashing more frequently and using alcohol gel because of the coronavirus.
Reducing and Resolving Tarnish
Customers can reduce the risk of their Types of Gold Jewellery Settings tarnishing by keeping their hands dry, removing their rings if they need to be using alcohol gel, removing them for showering, bathing, swimming, saunas. These things are necessary for keeping resin from yellowing too quickly as well. If they sweat lots, they can try using powder. Some foods can cause tarnish, especially eggs and oily foods.
If your customer has experienced this kind of tarnish, they can polish the piece regularly with a polishing cloth like the ones we sell here, or you can provide little cloths with your own branding like these, this company supplies them for Tree of Opals. They can try coating the inside of their ring with clear nail varnish as recommended in this blog, or for a longer lasting fix they can buy Jewelry Shield here on Amazon.
Customers might say, “I’ve worn gold jewellery before” or even “my other gold rings don’t do this” but please remember that they may be wearing gold rings that are 24ct gold plated, which is popular amongst mass-produced jewellery companies, or they may have worn gold in the past but have recently been sweating more or using alcohol gel. A tarnishing gold ring is not a fault, but if you do choose to remake your customer’s jewellery as a goodwill gesture, we would recommend finding stainless steel or rhodium plated findings because they will be likely to experience the same reaction with any other handmade gold and silver rings. We are not able to refund used settings due to hygeine! However, if you can remove the cabochon we may be able to partially refund you as a goodwill gesture if you return the setting (we recycle all of our gold to make new findings).
*Gold plated findings: we do find a lot of our Indian customers want to provide gold plated settings to their clients as a budget option because gold is seen as much nicer than silver, so long as your client is happy with gold plated, there’s no need to worry.
You can find our Dealer’s Notice here – e3087_AnchorCert – Birmingham Dealer Notice Updates Sep 19 Single Sided. Tree of Opals is our parent company.
This Types of Solid Gold blog contains affiliate links meaning I receive a small income based on your purchases from Amazon and Etsy etc. This affiliate income is really helpful to me to support my family, especially when I can’t ship orders with my new baby, and if you’d like to know how I set it all up please get in touch (blogs coming soon!).
2 thoughts on “Types of Gold Jewellery Settings”
I wasn’t aware that there were so many different kinds of gold jewellery available before I read your article. I really learnt a lot from your article. This was truly a very resourceful article shared by you. I really appreciate all the efforts you have made to make people aware of the various kinds of god jewellery. Thank you.
Thanks Priya! You’ve made my day 🙂