How To Repair Gold Fill Jewelry

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Gold filled jewelry has been a popular and affordable alternative to solid gold jewelry since the 1800s. In recent years, it’s coming back in full force thanks to thrifty designers who want more long-lasting pieces compared to gold-plated jewelry. However, damaged gold-fill jewelry can be tricky to fix due to its construction. Read on to learn more about how to repair gold fill jewelry.

What is Gold Fill Jewelry?

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The difference between solid gold, gold-plated, and gold-filled.

Solid gold jewelry is self-explanatory; it’s gold through and through and will never lose its yellow color. Gold plated jewelry is a very thin, paint-like layer of gold over a base metal, which can be anything from brass to sterling silver. 

Gold fill jewelry is a solid sheet of gold that’s fused to the top of a base metal. It’s usually 5% of the item’s total weight, and due to the way it’s constructed, it can pose some issues with repairs. Polishing it will remove some of the gold on the surface, and depending on how worn down it already is, this can potentially remove the gold coloration entirely. In addition, antique gold-fill items have a unique patina, or gold color, that results from a combination of age and oxidation. Some people find this color to be attractive, and the repair process may remove that patina.

Common Gold Fill Jewelry Repairs

Because of the nature of gold fill jewelry, regular repairs such as ring sizing, chain soldering, and stone setting are affected. We’ve compiled a short list of popular services below:

  1. Ring Sizing

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    A gold fill ring before and after sizing

    • In order to size a ring, a jeweler usually cuts into the back of the ring and pushes it to the correct size on a ring mandrel. Metal is then added or removed to size it up or down. While this process is fairly easy for most metals, the cutting and metalwork removes a lot of the gold layer, causing a visual discrepancy at the area of sizing. In order to fix the design of the ring, the jeweler lightly buffs and gold plates the entire piece, giving it a new, seamless color. 
  2. Chain Soldering

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    A gold fill brooch that was converted into a necklace with a matching gold fill chain

    • When a gold-fill chain is broken, it can be repaired with soldering. The jeweler simply reconnects the pieces and seals it shut with the help of a laser machine. There may be a dark spot at the area of work, which can be polished out or left alone. Some jewelers may cover it with pen plating, a form of plating that is used for small details and does not apply to the entire chain. 
  3. Stone Setting

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    A gold fill locket before and after stone replacement.

    • While less intrusive than other repairs, stone setting may still involve tools that will scratch the surface of your gold-filled item. If you’re adamant on keeping the original patina, the jeweler will not be able to buff out those scuffs. Polishing and replating will remove tool marks and freshen up the color of the item. 
  4. Polishing
    • Polishing gold-fill items can go one of two ways. If the gold layer is sufficiently thick, a quick buff will remove any tarnishing and reveal a bright, beautiful color underneath. This essentially restores the item to its original appearance before wear. On the other hand, if the gold-fill is completely worn down at some areas, polishing will only serve to further remove the gold layer and expose the base metal underneath. It’s important to note that you can only gold plate the entire thing to cover the worn down portions; a gold-fill item cannot be restored with patching as the result will be uneven and discolored. 

Now you’re all set on how to repair gold fill jewelry! If you have a piece that needs restoration or repair, comment below. We deal with both antique and modern gold-fill pieces on a daily basis and can offer some insight on your item. 

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