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Nothing glimmers and glitters quite like gold. Its warm color enhances every skin tone and every outfit. You simply can’t go wrong with gold.
There are so many different looking golds: yellow gold, rose gold and white gold that looks almost silver, but doesn’t tarnish.
Gold has been a popular material for jewelry for thousands of years. It’s easy to work, looks fabulous and lasts. Even after hundreds of years buried in the ground, like the Snettisham Hoard Great Torc, gold can be polished to look as good as new. But gold comes in other forms of adornment, such as beads.
Gold beads are a great way to create fabulous pieces of jewelry. Golden beads come with different purity levels. If something is 24-karat gold, it is 100% gold with no impurities. A 22-karat gold piece contains 91.7% gold, and if something is rated as 14-karat gold, it contains 58.3% gold.
The other components of the gold could be anything, but normally copper is added to give strength to the piece. A 24-karat piece of jewelry is very soft, and you can bend it easily with your fingers. Hence, 14-karat gold is most often found in jewelry, as it is a good compromise between purity and strength.
Gold beads can come in many different shapes: cubes, squares teardrop and button beads, to name a few, and have the same ratings from 24-karat and below, just like jewelry.
Copper and pure gold are amalgamated together to form an alloy, which we know as rose gold. Depending on the amount of copper used, the color varies from red gold to a pale pinkish hue. The higher the concentration of copper, the rosier the color. There is no special limit to the percentage used.
You may across the term “Russian gold.” This is rose gold and was very popular in Russia during the 19th century.
Rose gold can never be pure gold. It always contains a percentage of copper, but the karat value is the same as for yellow gold, and 22-karat is the highest level for rose gold. Again, the more copper the gold contains, the harder and tougher it will be, and the color is very pleasing. Rose gold beads make beautiful adornments.
Gold plate and gold vermeil are very similar. The main difference is in the metal that makes the base. Vermeil means that the beads are made of silver and then coated with gold. In the U.S., the gold must be at least 10-karat, and the thickness must be at least 2.5 microns. The seller must disclose any other metals apart from silver in the base.
The durability depends on the metals used in the base, the thickness of the gold plate and its karat value. Thicker plating is likely to last longer. The core usually contains other metals than silver to lend it strength, as silver is soft and is easily bent. The lower karat golds are usually more durable and are not as easily marked, as they contain less gold.
With these factors influencing the durability of gold-plated and vermeil bead pieces, vermeil beads can be more easily damaged than gold-plated ones.
“Gold plate” refers to the thin layer of gold that covers the surface of gold-plated chains. The core of each link may be one of several metals, as copper or copper alloy are both often used. The gold plating can be of various karat values, 22 being a popular choice. The thickness of the gold plating can vary; there is no minimum standard.
Gold-plated jewelry is usually marked with one of the following symbols: GP, RGP, GEP, HGP or HGE.
You may see “22K GEP”, which indicates that the item is gold plated. Vermeil pieces may not be marked as gold plated, but a silver standard stamp indicates that the core has a silver alloy as its center. For example, 92.5% silver content is marked as “925”. If you see this on gold, then the core is probably silver.