Facts About Gold

© by Rena Klingenberg; all rights reserved.

Here are some useful facts about gold:

14k goldfill wire pendant

Gold is a precious metal that’s been used in jewelry since humans first began adorning themselves. Pure gold is soft, shiny, bright yellow, and easily shaped.

Pure gold doesn’t tarnish. But when it’s alloyed with another jewelry making metal, the other metal may tarnish and cause the whole piece to look dull until it’s cleaned and polished.

Save all of your gold scraps that are too small to use in your jewelry! Some jewelry suppliers and metal mills accept scrap gold, which you can usually choose to be paid for in cash or credit toward future metal purchases.


Gold-filled is made by applying an outer layer of 12k or 14k gold over a core of brass. It’s a good way to give jewelry the quality and beauty of gold, much more affordably than using pure gold.

Gold-filled is usually either 12k/20 (meaning that 12k gold is the outer layer, and it’s 5% of the total weight of the metal), or 14k/20 (meaning 14k gold is the outer layer).

The gold layer wears well, and it’s thick enough to be quite permanent if treated with care.

However, it can be damaged by grinding, filing, using abrasive cleaning compounds, or using unsharpened tools.

Gold-filled jewelry should be stored in zip-close bags to avoid being scratched or damaged by other items in a jewelry box.

Gold Plated

Unlike gold-filled, gold plated means a microscopic film of gold is applied over the base metal (usually brass).

It’s a much less permanent application than gold-filled. The ultra-thin plated layer of gold inevitably wears off, revealing the base metal beneath.


Pure gold is 24-karat (abbreviated as 24k). To make gold less soft (and less expensive), it’s often combined with other elements like copper, nickel, silver, or zinc.

The less pure the gold (as more of another element is mixed with it), the lower the karat value.

So 18k gold is less pure than 24k, 14k is less pure than 18k, and so on. As a jewelry making metal, gold purity usually ranges from 10k to 24k.

Colored Gold

I think this is one of the most interesting facts about gold. Its color can be changed depending on the other metals it’s alloyed with:

  • White gold results from combining it with a white metal like nickel or palladium (however, the use of nickel can cause skin reactions in people allergic to nickel).
  • Rose, red, or pink gold results when gold is alloyed with copper.
  • Green gold (which is actually more of a greenish-gold color) is created by alloying gold with silver.

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