As a new jewelry maker, you might be wondering about gold wire and what all the different terms mean. Here are some questions I often get from new jewelry makers:
What is gold wire useful for?
What’s the difference between gold solder and gold wire? And just how do i care for my gold jewelry?
There are numerous of types of gold wire.
Gold-plated wire is copper or some other base metal coated with a thin plate of 10 to 14 kt gold. The plate easily comes off over time, can be scratched off, etc. so I wouldn’t recommend using gold-plated wire.
Gold-filled wire is frequently used by jewelers and artisans. Gold-filled metal is made by pressure-bonding a layer of gold to a base metal core. Gold-fill usually has a copper base covered in thicker layer of gold, usually 14 kt. The gold does not easily get removed from the base. Jewelry made with gold-filled wire will look like new for a very long time and can be cleaned and polished without being damaged. This is the wire I use when I use gold in my designs.
Another term you may come across is vermeil.
Vermeil is gold-fill with a sterling silver base. to my knowledge, you can’t get vermeil wire.
All wire described above can be used in jewelry making. Wire wrapping, making bead links, making clasps, you name it. If you can make it with silver or craft wire, you can use gold wire.
Gold solder is something different entirely. Gold solder is used in the soldering process. Gold solder does come in wire form, as well as sheet, but never use gold solder wire for anything other than soldering. Gold solder is much too soft, and is meant to only be used to fuse gold components of a piece of jewelry together.
Caring for your gold jewelry is pretty straightforward. You may find a bit of tarnish. Gold itself doesn’t tarnish, but gold for jewelry is always an alloy – it’s the base metal the gold is mixed with that’s discoloring. Here are some cleaning tips:
Cleaning Gold Jewelry
To remove tarnish: To clean gold jewelry that does not include any soft gemstones, pearls or crystals put the gold jewelry into warm sudsy water containing a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid such as Dawn, Ivory or Simple Green, and rub gently with your fingers or a cotton swab. Do not use toothpaste or baking soda to clean gold jewelry. Rinse your gold jewelry thoroughly with warm water and dry with a cotton cloth. Before storing, let the gold jewelry lie flat and air dry completely, overnight if possible. Moisture speeds the tarnishing process so it’s important to make sure your gold jewelry is dry before putting it away.
Machine cleaning: If your gold jewelry still looks dark, it may need aggressive machine cleaning. Most jewelers have some type of automatic cleaning equipment, such as an ultrasonic, ionic or steam cleaner, and experience using it so they can give you advice about whether such cleaning is safe for your specific piece of gold jewelry.