Six Ways to Incorporate Gold Into Your Jewelry

Six Ways to Incorporate Gold Into Your Jewelry
Seveal finished pieces of jewelry with gold accents

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.

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 karat gold, vermeil (sterling silver with a heavy plating of karat gold) is a great, affordable option.

Rose gold-filled chain with an open sterling silver moon pendant and silver and gold-filled earrings

Left: gravity necklace with a sterling silver charm and rose-gold-filled chain. Right: circle earrings with sterling silver ear wires and 14-karat gold-filled circles. Both by Kenda Kist.

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.

Mixing Your Metals

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. 

Finished gold and silver ring and earrings

Left: sterling silver tourmaline ring with 14-karat gold bezel by MeShe Designs. Right: gold-filled and Argentium® Silver earrings by Anne R. Hanson.

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

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.

Finished keum-boo jewelry

Left: keum-boo on Argentium® Silver with freshwater pearl pendant by Anne R. Hanson. Right: keum-boo earrings by Jayne Redman.

Best Uses: Inexpensively adding small gold accents to a finished piece.

Get Started: Watch a video on the keum-boo process. Then find the products you need to try it here.

Gold Leaf

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.

A wood bead necklace with gold leaf accents

Gold, copper and silver leaf on wood beads.

Best Uses: Accents on organic materials such as wood, stone and leather.

Get Started: Learn how to apply gold leaf in this quick tutorial. Then shop all gold leaf, including lemon gold and red gold shades.

Aura 22

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.

PMC pendant with gold accents

PMC® pendant with Aura 22 details by Tim McCreight

Best Uses: Use with metal clay and other textured pieces.

Get Started: Learn how to apply Aura 22 to your pieces in this video. Then pick up a container and give it a try.

Pen-Plating

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.

Metal clay rings with pen-plated accents

Metal clay rings with gold pen-plated accents by Candace Gates.

Best Uses: Economically and precisely adding small amounts of gold to silver or other metals.

Get Started: Watch this video to see how to plate 24-karat gold onto silver. Then explore pen-plating solutions and systems.