PVD gold is real gold

All that glitters is not gold - the difference between gold and gold plating

When gildingbecomesa thin layer of gold is applied to the surface of another material. The art of gilding has existed since ancient times, where it is mainly used forliturgical and ritual objectswas used. Gilding served - and still does today - to upgrade special objects.

The craft of gilding has always been closely linked to the craft of gold beating. But both of these arts are not a thing of the past, because these techniques are still used today by restorers in particular.

TheGold leaf gildingis a widely used technique. Here, gold leaf is applied to the surface of another material. But for thatArt ofJewelry makingareother gilding techniquesfar more important. These techniques include fire gilding, making gold-filled objects, gold plating, and PVD coating. Other techniques for gilding ceramics, glass and porcelain are also used.

We will go into more detail later in this article about the exact implementation of the various techniques. For now, however, we would like to focus on the distinction between realGold Jewelleryand gold-plated jewelry - and why you should avoid gold-plated jewelry.

How to recognize gold plated jewelry

Jewelry is usually gold-plated for purely aesthetic reasons. Mostly it is silver that is supposed to look like gold. Years of experience in the jewelry industry have shown us that gold-plated jewelry usually has a special, cheapyellow COLOURhas and that isthe gold layer wears off over time

In the Czech Republic you can based on the hallmarkdeterminewhether jewelry is gold plated. The hallmark (also known as a stamp) tells us what material the piece of jewelery was made of. Gildedsilverfor example is hallmarked925. 14 caratGold Jewelleryis hallmarked585as well as a National hallmarkwhich confirms the authenticity of the gold.


Since any conductive metal can be gold plated, we recommendGold jewelry only from verified sellersand for Czech jewelry always after theNational hallmarkto search. We also say this because in the Czech Republic all gold jewelry weighing more than 0.5 g must bear the national hallmark and the degree of purity. This mark is different from the 585 hallmark (for 14-karat gold), which can be used by everyone. For 14-carat gold, the national hallmark is a goose in a hexagon with the number 4. The national hallmark is compulsory for silver jewelry weighing 3.5 g or more.

Be more careful when buying jewelry in other countries, because the controls on the sale of precious metals are not equally strict everywhere. Unfortunately, tourists are often seen as easy prey for counterfeiters and the gold ring from vacation often turns out to be gold-plated copper.

Why you should choose gold

In our atelier we mainly come across gold-plated necklaces when they are brought to us for repair. In general we recommendAvoid gold-plated jewelry. If you have a gold-plated necklace and buy a real gold pendant with it, the pendant will always be oneother, lighter colorexhibit than the chain. Furthermorecan gold plated jewelry not be polishedwhich often makes it appear duller. And when repairs are made, a new layer of gold must always be applied, which of course never looks as good as the first layer.

That is why gold-plated jewelry is always a short-lived investment.Investing in real gold is always long-term. Even with irreparable damage, gold jewelry can still be turned into cash, because many jewelers buy gold back. Gold-plated jewelry, on the other hand, always loses value and can usually not be repaired once it is damaged.

Gold leaf gilding

Gold leaf gildingis the simplest method to coat the surface of a metal - or non-metal - object with gold. In this mechanical method, gold foil is used, tooGold leafcalled, applied to an object. This slide is made ofGold batsproduced. For the production of gold leaf, gold bats use casting molds, material folded into one another (such as glassine or ox caecum, which is rarely used nowadays), and hammers. The method of striking gold has hardly changed since the Middle Ages.

The gold is first melted and poured into bars. Then the gold becomes a ribbon with a thickness of0.02 mmrolled and cut into 40 x 40 mm squares (Quarters) cut. 380 to 450 of these quarters are laid in special paper and the first automatic striking process with a so-called spring hammer can begin. In the past, hammer mills were used for this work step. The quarters are beaten until their size has grown to 180 x 180 mm and their thickness has only increased0.005 mmamounts. This comparatively “thick” gold leaf was used in the Middle AgesGilding of altarsused.

The new sheets are cut again into 4 equal parts and 1500 pieces are again placed in the middle of special paper, the so-calledLot. In the second striking process, the gold pieces are cut to a thickness of0.001 mmbeaten. Again each piece is divided into 4 equal parts and again 1440 pieces are sandwiched between special paper. In the last, most difficult step, the gold beater hammers with you7 kg hammerthe pieces to a thickness of0.0001 mm. This step requires around2.5 hours of precise and hard workwith the hammer so that the gold is struck evenly and does not crack. One square meter of such a thin sheet weighs only 2.45 g. After this step, the work of the gold beater is finished and that of theGilderscan start.

This process, too, has not changed much over the centuries. Previously, the gold leaf were "easy" even on rough surfacespolished upand the job was done. Gold leaf became in booksglued with egg white. For wood (picture frames or similar) wasGlue made from animal productsused. However, wooden surfaces had to be carefully prepared and perfectly smooth for the gilder to begin his work. He pre-cut the necessary pieces on a piece of leather and used a gilding point to apply the wafer-thin gold leaf. After the gold is applied, it needs a polisher to make it perfectpolished. The gold-plated surface canby extrusioncan also be further decorated. Finally, the entire object is saved inCovered with shellac for protection

Other methods of gilding

Other methods of gilding include the use of achemical reactionor the application by othersphysical possibilities. These methods are used to gild jewelry.

Fire gilding

The oldest gilding technique is fire gilding. Gold amalgam (a solution of gold in mercury) is used in this process and applied to the entire object. Then it is heated in the fire and the resulting gold layer is polished. Depending on the various additives you candifferent shades of goldcan be achieved. This gilding method is permanent and permanent. It was mainly used for the gilding of sacred objects, goblets and containers. Since mercury is highly toxic, this method worksno longer applied.

Objects filled with gold

Another very old method of gilding is making objects filled with gold. A sheet of gold is welded to a thick piece of sheet metal or tombac. This combination is then rolled up until it has reached the desired thickness. The gold adheres excellently to its subsurface. Metal leaves made in this way were used extensively in jewelry making in the past - nowadays they are mainly used forWatch casesfor use.

Gold plating

Gold plating is the most common type of gold plating used today. The desired object is placed in a cathode in a gold plating bath made from a gold cyanide solution. A thin layer sticks out through the use of electric currentpure goldto the workpiece. This method can produce gold plating in any desired thickness, usually a few micrometers. However, the objects gilded with this method arenot very consistentcompared to gold-filled pieces. Experienced jewelers can usually recognize gold-plated jewelry at first glance.

PVD gold plating

The most modern methodthe gilding is the so-calledPhysical vapor deposition(Physical vapor deposition) or PVD method. This method is carried out in a vacuum. The gold is atomized in an airless tank using electricity. The gold will then adhere to any colder surfaces. In this way, a very fine layer of gold is achieved that covers even the smallest detail. This method is used to prepare samples for electron microscopy.

Gilding of glass, ceramics and porcelain

Glass, ceramics and porcelain are made throughBurngold plated. The desired decoration is applied to the product with gold paste and then fired. This method is permanent but also very costly. For this reason, other materials are mostly used nowadays.