Sara Golden Jewelry

In the Studio

All Plating is Not Created Equal

In the Studio, Jewelry CareSara Golden2 Comments
Thick gold plated jewelry.JPG

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!

WHAT IS 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.

HOW THICK IS GOLD PLATING?

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

Gold plating thickness chart.jpg

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.

HOW DO I TAKE CARE OF IT?

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.