Unmistakable luster. A wide variety of alloys and colors. Tarnish resistance. A long and fabled history in jewelry making. All of these properties make gold grist for the jewelry designer’s imagination. If you want to incorporate the singular look of gold into your work, there are easy ways to do it without creating a solid gold piece of jewelry. From techniques such as keum-boo to products like bi-metal, gold lends itself particularly well to use as an accent. Read on for seven simple ways jewelers can incorporate gold into their work.
Gold Charms and Findings
If you want to start working with gold without fabricating, adding small gold findings to your work is the easiest solution. Maybe it’s a gold chain or a gold clasp on a traditionally silver necklace. Or trying one of your bestselling silver pieces in mixed metals. If you’re looking for the rich color of 24K gold, vermeil (or sterling silver with a heavy plating of 24K gold) is a great, affordable option.
Best For: A simple way to test out whether gold resonates with your market.
Getting Started: Explore a wide range of gold findings and chains.
Mixing Your Metals
Small gold accents on a silver piece can raise the value of your work and provide visual contrast.
Best For: Jewelers who are using fabrication methods and want to raise the perceived value of their work while experimenting with mixed metals.
Getting Started: Browse gold fabrication metals, such as bezel wire, gallery wire, sheet and more.
Keum-boo is an ancient Korean technique used to permanently fuse 24K gold foil to silver and other metals. The process is fairly simple, though you will need to understand how to depletion guild in order use keum-boo on sterling silver.
Best For: Inexpensively adding small gold accents to a finished piece.
A much thinner version of the foils used in the keum-boo technique, gold leaf is ideal for use with organic materials such as wood. Because it is incredibly thin and fragile, it should be handled with great care and applied using a quick-drying varnish developed for this purpose.
Best For: Accents on organic materials such as wood, stone and leather.
A liquid 22k gold, Aura 22 allows you to literally paint gold accents onto your pieces as easily as painting onto a canvas. The only special equipment needed is a paint brush and a kiln. After application, you will need to fire and burnish the piece to make the bond permanent.
Best For: Use with metal clays and other textured pieces.
Bi-metal sheet contains a layer of 22-karat yellow gold pressure bonded to a layer of Argentium silver. The gold constitutes 10% of the overall weight of the sheet.
Best For: Traditional fabrication and forming. Because the gold layer is so thick, it is possible to form, polish, even engrave, without exposing the Argentium® Silver underneath. Bi-metal sheet makes it possible to create larger, weightier pieces that would be too expensive to craft in solid gold.
Get Started: Shop bi-metal Argentium® Silver and 22K gold sheet.
Pen-plating is a simple process that uses an electrical charge to deposit a microscopic layer of gold (or other metals) over nickel, gold or platinum, as well as silver, copper, brass and steel (though you will need to nickel plate these metals before you add the gold). Pen-plating solutions are available in 24K and 14K yellow gold, as well as in rose gold. They are priced based on how many pennyweights of gold are contained in the solution.
Best Uses: Economically and precisely adding small amounts of gold to silver or other metals