Sara Golden Jewelry

All Plating is Not Created Equal

In the Studio, Jewelry CareSara Golden2 Comments
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Maybe I should back up just a second. What, exactly, is plating? 

You probably already know that it’s gold over another material, but I’m willing to bet that most people who sell gold-plated jewelry couldn’t tell you much more than that. Why not? Probably because there’s so little gold on there that it’s not something they even want to talk about. 

But I’m proud of how much gold-plating is on my jewelry, and I’m not afraid to talk about it!


Plating is when a layer of gold (or silver, or rhodium) is added on top of another metal. Jewelry is usually plated to cover up the original metal color, to provide a more even color, or to prevent tarnish. But because it’s a coating, it will wear away over time. How fast that happens, though, depends on how thick the plating is.


Here’s how much gold-plated jewelry makers typically use:

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Jewelry from mass retailers (think mega-huge stores with rock-bottom prices) usually aren’t using gold at all, but a coating meant to imitate gold. It’s so thin that it rubs off after a few wears. 

Specialty retailers (think fashion and designer brands) will use actual gold — most of the time — but not even enough to technically qualify as gold plating, according to the Federal Trade Commission. While it’s usually thicker than what you’d find on jewelry from mass retailers, it’s still pretty thin.

I want you to be able to enjoy your jewelry for a long time, so I make sure to go thick with my gold plating. I use 3-4 times as much gold as most designers, ensuring that your jewelry stays looking great longer.


Treat gold-plated jewelry like you would other jewelry — keep it away from harsh chemicals (like taking it off before going for a swim, or doing any cleaning), store it in its own pouch to prevent scratches, and if it gets wet, dry it off completely to prevent dark spots. With a little bit of care, you’ll be able to hold on to these pieces for years to come.

Making Molly’s Earrings

In the StudioSara GoldenComment
Left:   Molly and Andrew walking down the aisle, photo by Meghan Baskin;   Right:   Molly’s custom earrings

Left: Molly and Andrew walking down the aisle, photo by Meghan Baskin; Right: Molly’s custom earrings

I’m always so honored when a bride asks me to make something special for her wedding day — I remember how important it was for me to get every detail from my own wedding right, so I know how special it is to pick the jewelry you’ll wear.

This spring Molly reached out to me about making earrings for her wedding, and I was thrilled! She wanted something with a pearl, and something bigger than the Baroque Pearl Drop earrings (little did she know my favorite thing to hear is, “Can we go bigger?”). I immediately got to sketching, she picked her favorite design, and we made a few final tweaks. Next we found the perfect pair of pearls, and I got busy on the rest.

Left:   Carving the rough shapes out of wax;   Right:   The wax after lots of fine-tuning

Left: Carving the rough shapes out of wax; Right: The wax after lots of fine-tuning

Molly’s earrings started out as thick blocks of wax that I cut down into the rough shapes I wanted. I used small files to refine the shape more, including all the contours. I carved the top setting so a pearl could sit safely inside, made sure the bottom drops wouldn’t be too heavy, and cast them all in brass. Finally I plated them in 14k gold, which really made them sparkle. 

Left:   A close-up shot of Molly’s earrings;   Right:   Molly just before her wedding, photo by Meghan Baskin

Left: A close-up shot of Molly’s earrings; Right: Molly just before her wedding, photo by Meghan Baskin

I enjoyed the whole process of making these earrings, but loved seeing Molly wearing them even more. She looked stunning on her wedding day (those sleeves! that lip color!!), and the earrings complimented her look beautifully. 

I hope she and Andrew husband spend many blissful years together, and that happy wedding day memories come flooding back every time she puts them on.

Style Hacks for Last-Minute Plans

StyleSara GoldenComment

Sometimes life throws a change of plans at you, like impromptu drinks with friends after work, or a surprise dinner-date with your in-laws. You don’t have time for a full outfit change, but a few quick updates can totally change your look. Here are my favorite hacks for dressing an outfit up or down in an instant:


A white tee and jeans feel casual, but pair them with heels and long, sparkling earrings (like the Ridgeline Drops in crystal) to dress them up.

Images, clockwise from top left:    James Perse tee ;  Ridgeline Drops ;  Isabel Marant heeled sandals ; vintage Levi’s

Images, clockwise from top left: James Perse tee; Ridgeline Drops; Isabel Marant heeled sandals; vintage Levi’s


Wearing a dress automatically feels like more of an occasion, but make it more casual with modern, all-metal accessories (like these Nova Earrings or Undercurrent Bracelet) and sneakers.


A button down and pencil skirt are great for the office, but throw on a slouchy sweatshirt and oversized metal hoops (like these Halo Hoops) for after-work drinks.

Give these a shot and let me know how it goes! Have other quick tricks that have worked for you before? Share the love and leave them in the comments below!

Cleopatra's Emeralds

Gems and Minerals, Style, InspirationSara GoldenComment
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Left: Still from Cleopatra (1963), 20th Century Fox/Photofest; Right: Emerald specimen, photo by Klaus-Peter Kelber.

I’ve always been fascinated by powerful women in history, and Cleopatra has to be top 3 on that list. She took Egypt from her younger brother and made herself queen; she had affairs with some of the most famous men in history (Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, no big deal); and she had an impressive collection of gems and jewels. (It’s entirely possible she was reincarnated as Elizabeth Taylor!)

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But one of the stones most synonymous with Cleopatra is the emerald. She figured out way before anyone else that in order to command fear and respect, she had to look look the part of an impressive, heaven-sent ruler.  And she did that by owning all the gems and constantly showing them off. 

She scooped up all of Egypt’s mines for herself, using emeralds as her royal calling card, wearing and giving them as diplomatic gifts. The Roman author Lucanus wrote that her home was littered with emerald-encrusted objects, and that she adorned herself with so many that he wondered how she didn’t “faint beneath the weight of gems and gold” (#goals). She had so many that during her time, when you thought of Egypt you simultaneously thought of emeralds. 

If you’re feeling as inspired as I am by this queen of Egypt, I highly recommend watching Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra (buckle up, though, it’s a 4 hour movie). Or, dive into more gemstone lore with Victoria Finlay’s “Jewels: A Secret History” where a lot of this incredible information came from. 

Mother's Day, But Make It Extra

Gift GuidesSara GoldenComment
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Did you know that Mother’s Day is coming up? Like, really, really soon? It’s May 12th, and in case the holiday has slipped your mind, I’ve got some upgraded gift ideas for you: 

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If she’s a little conservative when buying jewelry for herself, Mother’s Day is the perfect occasion to give her something she might not think to ask you for. Try an unexpected color combo, like the Ridgeline Pendant Necklace in Dalmatian jasper and blue chalcedony, or Collage Studs in crystal quartz packed with sparkle. Check out the full list of Mother’s Day picks featuring my most-gifted pieces. 


Schedule a trip for the two of you to visit a scent-maker where your mom can have a custom perfume blended for her. She’ll get to work with an expert to craft her own signature scent, and it’ll be an experience you can share together. Try Kelly + Jones’ scent studio in upstate NY (Kingston, to be exact), or Nova in NYC. Extra points if you plan brunch before your appointment.

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Get her a gift she can open on May 12th, but also order her flowers with a delivery date that’s 2 or 3 months away. She won’t be expecting it at all, and it’ll show her that you’re always thinking of her (not just on Mother’s Day). Some of my favorite florists include Hops Petunia in Kingston, and Putnam & Putnam in NYC

Try any of these and let me know how it goes — if you have any other great, unexpected ideas, add them to the comments!