The term "gold jewelry" is often applied by a non-jeweler to mean any jewelry that has a gold color. However, each process and metal content has its own term. If you learn a few simple terms, you can spot quality jewelry and not be confused by costume jewelry.
Solid gold jewelry often carries the term "solid gold" and will be stamped with a karat marking, such as 10K or 14K, with the highest being 24 karats. The higher the karat weight, the more pure the gold content. While "more pure" can mean "more value" and "more cost", it also means it may be softer. A 10K or 14K piece of jewelry is less susceptible to bending or other deformation. Also, a higher karat is more likely to wear down as well. If you bought a gold graduation high school or college ring, you may notice after a few years that the cutouts are less sharp, especially if you wear the ring daily.
The name "gold-fill" can be very confusing as it it not "filled" with gold, rather it is a heat-fused outer layer of gold. But the name "gold fill" is an old industry term that continues to be used throughout the world. As a product, it is an affordable alternative to a jewelry piece made of solid karat gold, and if well cared for, can be enjoyed for many years to come. Typically, there are 20 layers in gold fill. The underlying 19 layers are bronze, and the outermost layer closest to the skin is gold.
Gold plate only has a flash coating of gold, a layer in contrast, only microscopically thick. Gold plate can be over brass, copper or silver. If gold plate is over silver, it is often referred to as vermeil (pronounced ver-may)., and in some cases with vermeil, the flash gold coat will be so thin that when the silver underneath tarnishes, the gold will become dark. At that point, there is no way to "clean" the gold without removing it to remove the tarnish from the silver. Gold plate can often wear off, exposing the underlying metal to the skin.
joyarte jewelry couture typically uses gold-fill in order to make our pieces affordable for our customers. We can make any of our designs using solid karat gold by special request. For these types of custom orders, we'll ask for a deposit of half the cost of the jewelry order when placing the order to cover the purchase of the materials. The balance is due upon delivery of the finished jewelry.