How To Repair Gold Fill Jewelry
Written by Annabelle
March 25, 2020
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?
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:
- Ring 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.
- Chain Soldering
- 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.
- Stone Setting
- 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.
- 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.
How to repair back my ring the sterling silver is starting to show
Hi there, please email [email protected] and include a picture of your piece for further information! 🙂
Want to hire someone to fix a favorite piece of gold fill filigree. Is there anyone out there? I’m not that picky!!
Hi there, what type of repair are you looking to have on the piece? Could you please provide a picture? 🙂
Hi i want to fix my ring since it has dents because its just 1 gram of gold
Hi Amea, We’ll reach out to you shortly about repairs!
I have an old locket that is engraved. By old, I mean prob 95 years old. A baby bit down on it and has dented it in. Is there anyway to get it repaired. Hue locket is gold filled
Hi Sandra, Thank you for your comment! We’ll reach out via email with further details.
Hi, I have a small and adored gold fill pendant that is bent. It’s a circle and filigree. I have been looking for years for anyone who might try to fix it. I mean, it can’t really get worse, so I’m not very picky. Please let me know if you would at least entertain the idea. It would be a challenge. It’s unusual because of the small size. Thank you for considering.
Wondering if this older gold filled pin can have surface refinished? Would it be expensive to do?
This should not pose any problem to refinish. I’m going to recommend that you send this in for evaluation, and we will quote the service after examining your piece – there are material variables that will require jeweler evaluation. I’d conservatively expect no more than $200, it will cost at least $80.
I’ve followed up directly via email with next steps! 🙂