Types of Gold Beads

January 21st, 2015

When you first start making your own jewelry, you played with color, shape, and texture. As you progress though, you start to realize that the materials you use to create your jewelry are also very important. Working with high quality materials is really important if you want your jewelry to last for years to come.

One of the most frequently asked questions that we hear is regarding the quality of metallic beads. For example: what is the highest quality gold bead you can buy? What are all of these types of gold beads – gold filled, vermeil, and gold plated?


Gold Plated Beads

These gorgeous beads are great for jewelry makers. They are characterized as having a layer of gold electromagnetically bound to the outer layers of the base metal. Typically 18 or 22 karat gold is used to cover either stainless steel or brass. The gold layer in this type of jewelry is only a few microns thick so care must be taken to not polish the jewelry too vigorously.


Gold Filled Beads

Gold filled beads are a step higher in quality than gold plated. These beads are created by carefully fusing a layer of gold to a supporting metal. The process is completed using special equipment that manipulates pressure, heat, and time. The bond is then made permanent – with a total gold thickness that is 100 times more than gold plated.

Because gold filled jewelry is higher quality, you will be able to identify more specifications than you might find on gold plated beads. Gold filled items must be at least one fifth gold. You will be able to see whether the gold is 14 karat or 18 karat based on seeing either 14/20 or 18/20.

Similarly to solid gold, gold filled beads are tarnish resistant and are safe for sensitive skin.



The highest quality in gold beads is known as vermeil (pronounced “ver-may”). It is characterized as having a sterling silver core coated in at least 10 karat gold. The process is called electrolysis to attach the gold to the silver. The layer of gold is thicker than gold plated, and will always contain a base of sterling silver.

If you have any questions about beads, or are interested in placing an order, feel free to contact us!

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