If you adore gold jewelry, but are hindered by its cost, rolled gold is a great alternative, with the same appearance and look as solid gold. This affordable metal can last for decades, if properly cared for and maintained. Its cost-effectiveness and accessibility have made it one of the most popular and desired types of metals.
Let’s take a closer look at rolled gold, what it is, its pros and cons and whether it’s the right type of gold for you.
What is Rolled Gold?
Rolled gold, also known as gold filled, is made by pressing sheets of gold onto a base metal of typically copper, brass or silver. These metals are fused together with heat, and then used to make jewelry.
The origins of rolled gold can be traced back to 19th century England, when costume jewelry began to rise in popularity. During this era, rolled gold ornaments, were desired for their long-lasting and durable nature and affordability.
Rolled gold became even more popular after the First World War, when there was an economic recession, and solid gold jewelry became unaffordable to many. Gold filled became the more popular term for rolled gold later on (more on this below).
Rolled Gold vs. Gold Filled
Gold filled chain by Rixen Jewelry. See it here.
Rolled gold and gold filled jewelry are made using the same process. However, gold filled jewelry tends to have a higher content of gold, containing 5% or more pure gold in the alloy. In the past, rolled gold was used interchangeably with gold filled. Today, rolled gold means that the piece of jewelry has less than 5% of its weight in pure gold.
The United States has strict standards for gold filled, stating that for a metal to be identified as gold filled, it must have at least 5% or 1/20 of pure gold content of its total weight. If the metal doesn’t reach this standard, it’s considered rolled gold.
Rolled gold ornaments must be certified to authenticate their purity and weight. Ornaments are usually stamped with the letters RG to signify that they are made from rolled gold. For instance, if a chain or bracelet has a mark that says 1/40 14K RG, it means that the ornament has 2.5% of real gold and is made from 14 karats.
The phrase rolled gold is a better way to describe the process used in crafting these metals, compared to gold filled which can be misleading and confusing.
The Pros of Rolled Gold
Vintage rolled gold bangle by Lime Tree Design. See it here.
Despite the fact that rolled gold isn’t as strong as solid gold, it nevertheless has its own advantages. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of rolled gold.
- Durability: Rolled gold can last for a very long time if it’s properly cared for and maintained. Unlike gold plating, rolled gold is more durable and easier to maintain.
- Affordability: Rolled gold is much more cost-effective in comparison with solid gold. This is why it’s a great option for those who desire to wear gold jewelry.
- Appearance: It’s usually hard to tell the difference between solid gold and rolled gold. Both look very similar in terms of color, texture, and luster.
- Hypoallergenic: Rolled gold jewelry doesn’t cause any allergic reactions and is usually safe to wear for all skin types. It’s only in rare cases when the gold layer peels off that there could be the potential risk for those with sensitive skin to have a reaction.
The Cons of Rolled Gold
There are a few disadvantages in purchasing rolled gold, and it would be useful to be aware of them.
- Flaking: There is the possibility for the gold layer on rolled gold to flake and wear down over time. If you’re looking for jewelry that can last for generations, solid gold would be a better option.
- Tarnishing: In rare cases it’s possible for gold-filled jewelry to tarnish. Sometimes a gradual build-up of oil and dirt from the skin can cause it to lose its color.
Resale Value of Rolled Gold
Rolled gold has less than 5% of genuine gold in its composition, and so it’s priced much less than solid gold. However, compared to plated gold, it’s certainly worth more and you could get more for rolled gold jewelry than you would for gold plated jewelry.
The resale value of a rolled gold piece depends on the percentage of gold and the base metal used, whether copper, silver, brass or some other type of metal.
In general, rolled gold shouldn’t be considered as an investment. It’s best seen as an affordable alternative to gold but not as an investment piece for future reselling or pawning.
Rolled Gold vs. Gold Plating
Rolled gold and gold plating are made using different processes and methods. Gold plated jewelry has a thin layer of gold applied to a base metal of copper or silver. The metals are then bound together by chemical or electroplating methods.
While rolled gold has under 5% of its weight in solid gold, plated gold has less than 0.05%. Since rolled gold contains a higher percentage of gold, it has a greater resale value. Plated gold is certainly more affordable, but is more susceptible to damage and flaking, since the thin layer of gold can easily wear off.
From the two, gold plating is perfect if you’re after affordable jewelry for the short term. However, if you want longer lasting pieces of more value, consider rolled gold.
Taking Care of Rolled Gold
As mentioned before, rolled gold can last for a very long time if taken good care off. It’s always best to remove rolled gold jewelry if they will be exposed to chemicals, such as detergents and cleaners. When going into a swimming pool, it’s best to remove rolled gold jewelry because exposure to chlorine can discolor it.
To clean rolled gold jewelry, simply use soap and water with a cloth or a soft bristled brush. It’s important to thoroughly wash and dry the piece before wearing it. You can also buy polishing cloths and special cleaners from jewelry retailers, but this isn’t always necessary.
When storing rolled gold jewelry, always place it in a separate pouch or box as it can get damaged if scratched by harder objects.
Rolled gold is the perfect alternative to solid gold jewelry, offering a balance between price and beauty. If you’re looking to purchase rolled gold jewelry, you can start browsing here.