In the Studio with Nancy, Volume 3, 4/15/13 Volume Three

Nancy L.T. Hamilton

Welcome to: In the Studio with Nancy

Hello Subscribers!

Welcome back to In the Studio with Nancy!  Some brief news this week and a little tale.  Also,  A comparison of Gold Filled, Gold Plate, Vermeil, Gold Electroplate, Technibond, Gold Flash, Heavy Gold Plate, Gilded Metal, etc.  Thanks for joining me today.


We will be filming The Drawing next week for the winner of the Palmwood Necklace.  The winner will be announced in the YouTube video and notified by email.  Good luck, everyone!

The Beginning Chasing and Repousse Videos – Parts 12 & 3 are out, and I also have a companion web page on the topic.


A little tale.  A long, long time ago, in an alternate universe, I was cleaning my studio (gasp).  Beneath years of dust, cobwebs, and decay, I discovered an ancient handout (from a class I took years ago).  I plunged my hand into the murk, pulling out the following words of wisdom. Okay, that was a BIT MELODRAMATIC – there really isn’t THAT MUCH dust, murk, or decay in my studio!  So, back to reality:  I re-read the handout and loved the message.  I wish I could recall who the author was, but, alas, that has slipped into the realm of the forgotten.  I tweaked the punctuation and added two words (in parenthesis). *(The author’s name is Ira Glass). 

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners.  I wish someone had told me that all of us who do creative work get into it because we have good taste.  BUT THERE IS A GAP.  For the first couple of years, you make stuff.  It’s just not that good.  It’s trying to be good.  It has potential, but it’s not.  But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer.  Your taste is why your work disappoints you!

A lot of people never get past this phase.  They quit.  Most of the people that I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this.  We know our work doesn’t have this “special thing” that we want it to have.  WE ALL GO THROUGH THIS!  If you are starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal, and the most important thing you do is: DO A LOT OF WORK.  Put yourself on a deadline so that every week, you will finish one story.  It is only by going through a (large) volume of work that you will close that gap. Your work will be as good as your ambitions.  I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone!  It’s gonna take a while.  It’s normal to take a while.  YOU’VE JUST GOTTA FIGHT YOUR WAY THROUGH (it).”


TOPIC  A Comparison of Gold Filled, Gold Plate, Vermeil, Gold Electroplate, Technibond, Gold Flash, Heavy Gold Plate, Gilded Metal, etc.

A brief note on Quality Stamps.  In the U.S., you are not required to stamp your jewelry with a fineness (quality) stamp.  You are required to identify it in some manner, though:  on a tag, on an invoice, or with another method.  If you decide to mark your jewelry, you must also stamp (near the quality mark) a Federally Registered Trademark.  This is a guarantee from the maker that the quality is as stated in the Essential Guide to the U.S. Trade in Gold or Silver Jewelry. *See “For Further Research” below.


  • If you use the term “gold” on your jewelry, it must be 24k throughout.
  • The minimum fineness for gold in the U.S. is 10k.
  • Gold plate can be mechanically or electrically applied.
  • “The exact thickness of the plate may be marked on the item if it is immediately followed by a designation of the karat fineness of the plating which is of equal conspicuousness as the term used (as, for example, “2 microns 12 K.  gold plate” or “2µ 12 K. G.P.” for an item plated with 2 microns of 12 karat gold.).” **Quote from the Federal Trade Commission: Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and the Pewter Industries. Translation: Mark the thickness (i.e., 1/20) and then mark the karat (i.e., 10k) in either order.  As a real-life example, Rio Grande sells a double-clad, 14/20 gold-filled metal.  It is 14k, with the gold representing 1/20th the weight of the metal.
  • Karats vs. Carats – Gold fineness is measured in Karats.  24K is pure gold – there are no other metals in it.  18K would be 18 parts gold to 6 parts of another metal.  Carats are used for measuring the weight of diamonds and other gemstones.  One carat weighs 200 milligrams or .200 grams.

Here are some great quotes from Artisan on the difference between gold plating, gold filled/gold overlay: “The most important difference is layer thickness.  Items designated as “gold filled” can be up to 200 times thicker than the heaviest gold electroplating…”  “Gold-filled items are created using heat and pressure to permanently fuse a layer of karat gold over a less costly base metal…”  “Gold electroplating, especially with the advent of super hard plating materials, is widely used on designs with intricate or complex shapes.”

The following list is organized by 1st – quality and 2nd – thickness of gold, in descending order.

  • Gold Overlay/Rolled Gold – The total weight of gold must be no less than 1/40th of the weight of the piece and less than 1/20th.   It must also be marked with the karat.  Example: 1/40th 12k Gold Overlay.
  • Gold Flash/Washed  – Gold Flash is 10K gold at least .175 microns thick (7.0 microinches).
  • Gold Electroplate – Gold Electroplate must be 14K gold and be at least .175 microns thick (7.0 microinches).
  • Gold Plate – Gold plate must be 14k or higher and be at least .50 (20 micro inches) microns thick 
  • Technibond – This is a marketing idea from the Home Shopping Network. It (now) is “.925 sterling silver with a 40-mils-thick outside layer of 18K yellow gold for a look of 14K.” per the HSN. See “For Further Research” below for more information. 
  • Gold Filled/Gold Overlay –  The gold present must be at least 1/20th of the item’s total weight.  Karats can be in 10k, 12k and 14k.
  • Heavy Gold Plate – Heavy gold plate must be 14k or higher and contain 2.5 microns (100 micro inches) of gold.
  • Gilding – Gilding is a surface application of gold that doesn’t involve electricity.  It is a process that involves combining powdered gold with mercury and forming a paste.  The amalgam (an alloy of mercury and another metal) is applied to the metal and heated until the mercury is boiled off.  This leaves only the gold on the metal. Due to the hazards of working with mercury, this process is seldom used today. Aka:  Fire Gilding, Wash Gilding.  See “Depletion Gilding” below.
  • Vermeil (pronounced “vermay”) – Vermeil must be 14k or higher and contain 2.5 microns (100 micro inches) of gold over sterling silver.  The heavy plating is achieved through electroplating or fire-gilding.  If the sterling silver is plated with another metal, such as nickel,  before application of the gold, it cannot be considered Vermeil. ***The Code of Federal Regulations 16, Part 23.5.

Other Processes

  • Depletion Gilding – This process requires an object that contains at least some gold.  Through a subtractive process – employing acid and, usually, heat – the other metals present are depleted, leaving a layer of pure gold.  
  • Keum-Boo – Originally a Korean technique used by the Japanese, Chinese, Romans, and the Greeks. Keum-boo is a technique of applying very thin pieces of gold to another metal.  Keum-boo can be used on steel, iron, and copper, although the process is very difficult.  Most of the time, it is used on fine or sterling silver that has been depletion gilded. The process requires heat and burnishing.
  • Electrum – In this process – employing a similar process to Depletion Gilding – an object containing silver, gold, and copper is etched in oxalic acid (to name one type of acid used).  The acid only removes the copper, leaving a metal that is composed of fine silver and gold.  The amount of gold present varies.

For Further Research:

I appreciate your support.  I hope you enjoyed the Newsletter.  Talk to you soon!   


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