The appeal of gold is undeniable. It's warm and buttery and sparkles so beautifully. I didn't understand it until I had a gold ring on my own finger - then I couldn't stop staring at it. And taking pictures of it. And showing it to just about everyone I know.
However, with the price of gold hovering around $2,000/ounce it's really difficult to make everything in gold. Luckily, we have three options:
1) Gold Plating and Gold Vermeil
Gold-plating and vermeil are the most inexpensive options for getting a gold finish. Both plating and vermeil start with a base metal and a gold layer is added on via electroplating. The plating process uses chemicals that are toxic and dangerous for people and the environment. In addition, it's often a temporary way to get a shine. The plating is very thin and will wear off with time - especially on rings.
The biggest differences between vermeil and plating are in quality. Vermeil starts with a base of sterling silver and plating starts with any base metal - usually bronze or brass. In addition, plating is often just a few microns thin and vermeil is about 250 microns. Vermeil is a lot thicker, more regulated, and of higher quality, but there's still no guarantee that it won't wear off.
Because of the toxic chemicals used (and dumped back into the Earth) and the risk of the plating wearing off, I don't like wearing gold-plated or gold vermeil pieces. Therefore, I don't feel comfortable offering them to my customers.
Gold-fill is the next option. It consists of a core of jewelers brass and is coated with a thick layer of gold. With gold-fill, the gold will not wear off with extended wear. However, gold-fill is very tricky to solder and if it's overheated, the gold and brass will melt together and turn pink. Most jewelers won't even solder gold-fill because of how temperamental it is. Even if the soldering job is clean, gold-fill tends to discolor over the years- it can be polished with a polishing cloth though.
I offer a few items in gold-fill because I know how lovely that yellow shine is. I am willing to make other designs of mine in gold-fill - but if I'm not able to make it without discoloration, I will refund you.
The third and best option is using a gold alloy. Pure 24k gold is too soft to work with reliably so it's mixed with other metals - usually silver - to strengthen it. That's how you end up with 10k, 14k, 18k, etc.. I love working with gold proper. It's warm and buttery and solders so well. Its beauty is difficult to overstate and it's easy to understand why it's been so valuable for thousands of years. But it's almost TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS an ounce right now. That's not feasible for most budgets and It's definitely not something I can keep in stock constantly.
That being said, the beauty of hand-making all of my own pieces is that I can make it however I want to. If you want to customize an existing piece in a gold alloy or gold-fill, send me an email at Hello@hamaila.com and we can get started on that process.