In my last column, I discussed both platinum and gold used in jewelry. Fashion jewelry, designed as a less expensive and shorter-lived alternative to more expensive jewelry, uses either gold filled or plated metal to achieve a “gold” look.
Gold filled jewelry provides a longer wearing jewelry as compared to gold plated jewelry. Gold filled jewelry has thick sheets of gold wrapped around and adhered to base metal to give a realistic look of gold. Although older jewelry may not be marked, newer pieces are often marked “gold filled.” Gold plated means the base metal (usually with a copper plating to help the gold adhere) has been dipped in melted gold. It may have no mark, or may be stamped “gold plated.” The quality of gold plating varies considerably. Vermeil is gold, plated over silver or bronze. Slightly more expensive fashion jewelry such as Majorica jewelry often uses vermeil to produce a longer-lasting, or more visually appealing look. Although the higher percentage gold or platinum pieces I discussed in the last column can “tarnish,” vermeil pieces are more likely to show tarnishing than those with a higher percentage of gold. Gold colored costume jewelry has the least amount of gold. In some cases, costume jewelry may simply have a very thin plating, or even coated with paint which can be scratched off.
Just as gold has multiple percentages of gold, so does silver. The higher the percentage of silver, the softer the metal. Seldom do you see fine silver (marked .999FS or .999) used in jewelry. It would bend and scratch too easily. Sterling, marked “.925” or “sterling,” usually contains 7.5% copper. When sterling is worn daily, it doesn’t need to be polished as often since the daily wearing “wears” off the tarnish. In next week’s column I will continue the discussion of the different forms of silver jewelry and its care.
Nancy Pride owns Morgan Fitzgerald’s and Merle Norman located at 3800 South Texas Avenue, Bryan, one mile north of University Drive www.fitzyou.com 979 268 0608.