At Lulu + Belle we want to provide you with as much information as possible about the jewellery you are purchasing. We know that there is a lot of confusion between the different types of gold available, such as solid gold, gold filled, gold vermeil and gold plated and so we wanted to provide a breakdown and comparison of each of these type of jewellery.
WHAT IS SOLID GOLD JEWELLERY?
'Solid gold' is the term that's often used to describe jewellery that is made from gold that is 'solid' the whole way through! To make jewellery, gold is often mixed with another metal to make it stronger and more durable and this is called an alloy. Gold purity is measured in karats with 9kt, 14kt, 18kt and 24kt the most commonly used karats in Ireland. 24kt is the purest form of gold but is a very soft material making it a difficult metal to use in jewellery designs. The karat system indicates the percentage of the material that is 'pure gold' and which is 'alloy', with 24kt containing the most pure gold and 9kt containing the least.
WHAT DOES GOLD FILLED MEAN?
Firstly gold filled is also often called ‘rolled gold’ or ‘gold fill’ – you will most often see us describe our jewellery as ‘14kt rolled gold’. Gold filled is a much more affordable alternative to solid gold. The production of the raw materials for gold filled jewellery is what makes it a durable product. Gold filled raw materials such as metal sheet and wire are made by pressure bonding a layer of solid gold to a core of a base metal such as jeweller’s brass. The manufacturer starts with a sheet of brass and will add a layer of solid gold sheet and use heat and pressure to fuse both layers together. At Lulu + Belle, we only use ‘double clad’ gold filled raw materials – this means that the solid gold layer is spread across both sides of the brass core and the entire sheet has an outside layer of solid gold bonded to it.
There are stringent standards on the manufacture of gold filled materials and the material must have at least 5% or 1/20th solid gold by weight overall. The method used to produce gold filled material and the quantity of solid gold, means that with some care the material can look good for many years.
WHAT IS GOLD FILLED JEWELRY?
At Lulu + Belle, we use gold filled sheet metal to hand-make our discs and charms and gold filled wire to make our bracelets and earrings. All of our chains and clasps are 14 kt gold filled. Gold filled jewelry is jewelry that is mostly comprised of gold filled material. Some of our jewellery cannot be made from gold filled material such as cast pieces or some pieces that require a lot of wire soldering. For these pieces we use gold vermeil.
WHAT IS GOLD VERMEIL?
Gold vermeil has a base of sterling silver which is then covered in a heavy layer of gold which is at least 14kt in purity. The gold layer over the silver must be at least 2 microns in thickness. At Lulu + Belle we use at least 18 kt gold for the outer layer of our gold vermeil pieces. Gold vermeil is a plated material but it is not to be confused with ‘gold plated’ or ‘gold dipped’ which is gold plated over a base metal and can often just consist of a very thin layer of gold overall.
WHAT IS GOLD PLATED JEWELRY?
Gold plated jewellery is jewellery that is often made by depositing a layer of gold on a base metal such as brass or copper to give the jewellery a gold finish. The thickness of the gold layer in gold plated jewellery can vary greatly. If the layer of gold is very thin, it can fade quickly as the molecules from the base metals transfer to the gold and break it down.
HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR GOLD JEWELLERY ?
The care and cleaning of your gold jewellery may depend on the type of gold used to make your gold piece. In general, your Lulu + Belle gold jewellery will benefit from a gentle polish from time to time with a soft polishing cloth for gold. We are big fans of the pin 'sunshine' brand polishing cloths. You can gently run the chain through the polishing cloth to bring it back to a shine. Avoid using a silver polishing cloth on your gold vermeil jewellery as it could remove the plating over time.
HOW TO DEEP CLEAN YOUR GOLD FILLED and VERMEIL JEWELLERY ?
If your rolled gold jewellery needs a more thorough clean to remove a build up of dirt and oils, you can wash it gently in warm water and mild soap and pat it dry with a very soft cloth. Avoid using any harsh detergents or cleaners. Be careful not to scratch your pieces when washing and drying.
SOME MORE TIPS ON THE CARE OF GOLD VERMEIL:
Gold vermeil is sterling silver that has been gold plated. As with sterling silver, preventive care is important for maintaining your gold vermeil jewellery. Gold vermeil is sterling silver plated in a layer of gold, which means that vermeil jewellery will tarnish like silver. Keeping it in an airtight bag and using an anti-tarnish strip will help slow down tarnish over time.
HOW TO HELP YOUR GOLD JEWELLERY LAST LONGER ?
Try to avoid getting perfumes and lotions on your jewellery, in particular sun-screen can be damaging to the precious metal. When applying lotions, allow them to absorb fully before you put on your jewellery. If you do get lotions on your jewellery, gently wash it off with water and a mild soap, particularly the chain. Always remove your jewellery before sleep to prevent wear.
SHOULD I WEAR MY GOLD JEWELLERY IN WATER ?
We recommend removing your jewellery for showering and particularly for swimming in chlorinated water, hot-tubs or in the sea. The chemicals in pools and hot-tubs will damage precious metals and could leave your pieces looking dull and tarnished.
IS IT OK TO WEAR MY JEWELLERY FOR SPORTS ?
Removing your jewellery for sports will also prolong the life of your pieces as sweat can also affect your piece over time, depending on your own body chemistry. There is also the risk of damaging or snagging delicate chains when playing sports.
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We are looking for a part-time jewellery maker to join our small team, on a part-time basis. The ideal candidate is someone who has goldsmithing experience, either in a commercial or home based workshop and is used to having tools in their hand every day. This is a busy and fast-paced workshop and speed and attention to detail are required.