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 Aura 22, gold lends itself particularly well to use as an accent. Read on for six simple ways jewelers can incorporate gold into their work.
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 karat gold, vermeil (sterling silver with a heavy plating of karat gold) is a great, affordable option.
Best Uses: A simple way to test out whether gold resonates with your market.
Getting Started: Explore a wide range of gold findings and chains.
Adding small gold accents to a silver piece is an easy way to raise the price point of your work and provide visual contrast. This can be as simple as using a gold bezel on a silver ring or adding gold granules or other details to your silver piece.
Best Uses: 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 24-karat gold foil to silver and other metals. The process is fairly simple, though you will need to understand how to depletion gild in order use keum-boo on sterling silver.
Best Uses: 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 Uses: Accents on organic materials such as wood, stone and leather.
A liquid 22-karat 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 Uses: Use with metal clay and other textured pieces.
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 a variety of metal types, including 24-karat and 14-karat yellow gold, as well as in rose gold. Gold pen-plating solutions 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.