What is ‘Gold’ Jewellery ?

What is gold? Here’s what it’s not!

OK so I need to rant. I’m so fed up with Jewellery being described as “Gold” when it is not.

It’s confusing for customers who might think they’re getting “real gold”, when what you are buying is a piece of costume jewellery that is mass produced in the COLOUR gold and likely for an over inflated price.

Here's a few tips on how to indentify gold and what is might be when it's not gold!

So what is gold?

Gold is a metal mined from the ground. No matter how you feel about this ethically speaking now, this has been the origin of gold for millennia.

Gold on the periodic table is a "Noble Metal". It is, chemically speaking, fairly dull. It is stable. It doesn’t tarnish or corrode when exposed to air. It retains its rich colour which we humans tend to adore. It’s malleable - we can turn it into different shapes and forms with relative ease - it has a melting point of 1,064 degrees Celsius. This means that out of all metals, it is the one most likely to last 1,000 years. All good news for us.


Why are there different types of gold?

So let’s get things straight - when it’s mined gold, in its purest form, is 24 carat gold.

But when we work it into jewellery we mix it with other metals creating an alloy. This is to give malleable gold more durability and to change its colour. So in order to work with gold, we need to add in other metals to strengthen it.

And don’t worry I’ll be explaining carats in my next blog post!


When is it really gold?


When you’re buying a piece of jewellery that makes any suggestion of “gold” you need to know if it’s real or not.

  1. Firstly, and most immediately, it should be suggested in the price point. This is just pure common sense, not science. Gold is a precious metal so it costs a lot of money.
  2. Check it is hallmarked. This is crucial. A piece of jewellery cannot be sold as 18ct gold if it is not hallmarked. This is the law and it protects your consumer rights.
  3. And if you can’t see these symbols and it seems on the cheaper side what is it?? Quite often it is plated, vermeil or gold filled. In all of these process there is a base metal that is dipped in layer of gold. Each process has a different amount of gold coating on it. But these are options of giving you a gold look on a less precious piece of metal that still holds some value but is easier on the wallet.


A quick guide to gold plate, vermeil and filled.

  • Gold Plate is a thin layer of gold coating on the base metal. The coating is usually around 1%. Often the bass metal used is brass.
  • Gold Vermeil is the exact same process but the coating is 2.5%.
  • Gold Filled jewellery uses a different process - the content of the metal is a mixture of mostly base metal and a minimum of 5%.


That’s a lot different to the 75% gold content you’d find in an 18ct gold piece.

So be aware that you might be guying nickel, guilding metal or brass with a gold coating on it.

For what it’s worth, all pieces of Vanessa Ree Jewellery are a minimum of Sterling Silver. And my pieces are always hallmarked. So you will always have some precious metal that it authenticated  even if the budget doesn’t extend to 22ct.

So there you go folks, hope that’s helpful and keep an eye out - part 2 coming soon.