Before talking about soldering gold-filled, it is crucial to understand gold-filled jewelry and its properties. This way, you will know what makes up gold-filled jewelry and if it is fit for soldering. This guide will begin with the construction of gold-filled and then the process of soldering and fabricating gold-filled jewelry. This article is your complete guide to gold-filled and soldering gold-filled.
What Is Gold-Filled?
A little thing about gold has something to do with alloys. A bar of pure gold is 24 karats, and it is too soft to be material for jewelry. So, an alloy is mixed with gold to make a stronger material. Alloying gold creates a strong metal with different shades and colors. This gold alloy is the material used to make gold-filled. Gold-filled is a layered product, which is made up of gold and brass. When these materials are put together, a stronger material is made, and that is gold-filled. The core, which is made of brass, is 10% zinc and 90% copper. By using heat and pressure, the gold-filled is pressed to the surface of the brass, making it strongly bonded without peeling or falling off.
A gold-filled must only contain 5% of gold alloy. If it has less than 5% gold alloy content, then it cannot be called gold-filled. Thus, as its name implies, gold-filled is a gold alloy filled with brass in its core.
How To Choose Gold-Filled?
Unlike other types of gold jewelry, such as vermeil and gold plated, gold-filled has a thicker layer of gold over the core or the base metal. It creates a difference when gold-filled is crafted to make jewelry. This material has the ability to bear the wear and tear of the process of crafting as well as the long-term use of the jewelry. Indeed, gold-filled is your best option among other categories of gold as a jewelry material.
You can choose among the three types of gold construction. First, the single clad gold-filled that is made of a large amount of gold alloy content layered on one side of the core metal, which is brass. The second is the double-clad gold-filled. This gold-filled is made up of a thick gold alloy that is split by a layer of brass. Its construction is a gold alloy, brass core, and gold alloy. Finally, the wire-clad gold-filled, which is made up of gold-alloy layered around a brass wire. The wire clad looks like a circular layer of brass core wrapped in a layer of 5% gold alloy.
Can Gold-Filled Jewelry Be Soldered?
Solder is an alloy metal, and there is no such thing as gold solder because the color of gold does not match the solder. So, color matching matters for you to be able to solder gold-filled. 9ct or 14 ct yellow gold is recommended to match the color of the gold-filled. There is a need for extra care because too much heat can cause damage to the gold-filled. Overheating may cause the brass core to mix with the gold alloy, irreversibly damaging the construction of the gold-filled.
When working with gold-filled products, especially when soldering, it is very important to use a flashlight close to the area where you are crafting to avoid errors. One of the most important things in soldering gold-filled is not to allow the brass to mix with the gold alloy and prevent distortion of the surface that leaves dark and discolored solder joins. If any error happens to the gold-filled, it will cause it to tarnish quickly. That is why it is very important when you are working with heat and gold-filled. It is advised to solder the gold-filled between 690-788°c only. Exceeding this heat index can be a big risk for the quality of the gold-filled.
When the color of the solder does not match the color of the gold-filled after the soldering process is done, you can fix it by gold-plating the whole piece. Gold plating will put a thin layer of shiny gold to give the gold-filled a smoother color grade. Plating has been highly recommended for soldered gold-filled materials.
How Do You Store Gold-Filled Jewelry?
Extensive care is important in storing gold-filled items. Its quality does not only depend on the soldering and polishing process. The storage highly matters in keeping the quality of gold-filled materials. You can make a gold-filled item last up to 30 years with proper storage.
- Use tissue paper when storing gold-filled items. It is very important to keep each item in one piece of tissue paper to avoid them scratching each other. Scratches in the surface of plated and polished gold-filled can be difficult to remove without exposing its underlying base metal layer.
- Always cover your workstation or the surface where you solder and craft gold-filled items with a clean and soft cloth to avoid the surface area of the gold-filled hitting any bench pin or any hard edges in your working area. Handle the gold-filled material with a clean and soft cloth. A flannel cloth is highly advised to be used when working with gold-filled materials.
- Store your gold-filled item in a dry place, free from any presence and possibility of moisture. Although gold-filled items will not tarnish as quickly as other materials, such as sterling silver and alloy, it is very important to apply standardized jewelry care to extend the shelf life and keep the quality of the material. Tarnishing agents act slowly in places free of moisture. Do not wear your gold-filled jewelry when swimming, taking a bath, or any activity that will make it wet.
How Do You Clean And Polish Gold-Filled Jewelry?
When cleaning and polishing gold-filled items, you have to ensure that you prioritize the quality of the surface. You must always use the appropriate cleaning tools and handle them with utmost care.
- If you store your gold-filled pieces carefully, it will only require low maintenance practice, such as wiping with a soft cloth, finishing polish with a mild final-finish compound designated for gold-filled items, and a little more soft buff.
- Make sure to use a 100% cotton cloth when doing mild wiping to the surface of the old-filled item.
- You can also rely on a tumbler machine to clean and polish your gold-filled items. Tumbling is also applicable for gold-filled materials, but the use of a steel shot is recommended, as it is not abrasive and it will not damage the gold plating.
The DOs and DON’Ts of Gold-Filled Jewelry?
Here are the DOs and DON’Ts to your gold-filled items. Do not miss out on this list of the best and worst practices for gold-filled, and consider each one of them to keep the quality of your gold-filled items.
- Solder your gold-filled items with 9ct or 14ct easy solder
- Gently polish your gold-filled item to maintain the gold layer and avoid surface damages
- Follow the proper storage practice and never expose your gold-filled items to moisture and strong chemicals
- Always seek professional help if your gold-filled gets accidentally damaged, and do not attempt to fix it all by yourself
- Do not forget to handle your gold-filled item even if you are already wearing it
- Filing or cutting your gold-filled product
- Overpolishing because this will reduce the thickness of the layer of gold in your gold-filled item
- Wearing your gold-filled item next to a stronger or more abrasive material
- Spraying perfume and other sprays on your gold-filled item
- Casting your gold-filled item with any metal
In conclusion, you can solder gold-filled items, but there are a lot of facets concerning the process of soldering gold-filled. These facets involve the safety and quality of your gold-filled item. If you want to keep your gold-filled items for a long time, extensive care is needed. Gold-filled is your best option among three main variations of gold, and it will be an excellent investment if you couple your purchase with wise and intentional care.