Reply
Highlighted
Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 5,539
Registered: ‎03-11-2010

silicone in gold rings question

I am curious about the silicone in gold rings. Does that mean the ring is somehow plated or just covered with gold? Is it a new way to charge for a gold look without actually using lots of gold. And for those of us who want something really special, does it cheapen it or somehow make have less value over time?

New Member
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎08-14-2016

Re: silicone in gold rings question

This is an excellent question with a less than simple answer.  I apologize that my answer ended up being lengthier than I hoped, but I wanted to provide a thorough response. I'm strictly a private jewelry collector of over forty years and not a professional. I have done extensive research on this topic. But much of my knowledge has come from my frequent habit of financing new purchases through the resale of old purchases.  

     The ever-increasing price of gold has led to a variety of new jewelry making techniques that make it possible to construct sturdy gold jewelry items using much less actual gold than was previously required. This is desirable because it allows jewelry makers to create attractive pieces with less cost, enabling them to sell items at lower prices than would otherwise be possible. Very few customers would be able to afford any gold items made using yesterday's techniques at today's gold prices. So, in spite of astronomical gold prices, the public still wants to buy gold and because jewelry makers want to sell what people want to buy, they had to develop new and cheaper ways to manufacture gold products. Electroforming and silicone injection are just two of the new techniques that make this possible.

     Metal stamping started many years ago to help people know what they're buying and to prevent fraud. Gold items may only be stamped with the karat stamp denoting the actual metal content/ purity, 14K, 18K, and 22K, of the specific item. You can find description of gold karat measurements and the reasons for using a particular karat for making specific jewelry items. For example, higher karat gold is softer and generally unsuitable for mounting diamonds and other valuable stones.

     A higher karat/ higher purity equals higher value. Therefore, stamping an item with a higher-than-accurate karat stamp constitutes fraud because it incorrectly increases an item's value. Jewelry brokers determine the actual value of an item by identifying its metal purity/ karat and then weighing it. Brokers of precious metals use various methods to test metal purity, such as the old-school technique of scraping the metal onto a block and applying chemicals and/or newer methods such as electronic scanning devices. If an item is stamped 14K and weighed, then any non-gold materials (such as wax) used in the electroforming process would become part of the weight aspect of the valuation equation. The weight of the entire item would be valued at the 14K purity value, thus resulting in an incorrectly increased valuation of the item.

     Gold jewelry items created using electroforming and silicone techniques are generally stamped 14 K FP or 14 K EP to indicate a gold conserving technique was utilized when making the particular piece. QVC clearly states when items are made using an "electroforming process" and this is also true for their "silicone filled" items. Although all of this is explained in-depth on the internet, it is much harder to find accurate information there than I would have thought. And, there is a tremendous amount of erroneous information that is presented as fact. The best way to find out how much your jewelry item is worth is to take it to a pawn broker and try to sell it. Of course, what they offer to pay will be significantly less than the actual value, since they need to sell it for more to make a profit. The actual value is somewhere in between what they are willing to pay and what they will sell for. Only experience will help you determine what that number actually is.

     Brokers have become increasingly sophisticated at determining karat/ metal content and therefore value in response to the new manufacturing techniques. The chemical scratch test would have sufficed in years past, but no more since so many new manufacturing techniques have successfully reduced the amount of actual gold needed to make jewelry items. Now, almost all pawn brokers are equipped with electronic scanning devices. Keep in mind; this doesn't take into consideration any other intrinsic value considerations, i.e. specific designers, the artistry of a particular piece or sentimental value etc. This value is strictly based on specific quantifiable attributes.

     These items are beautiful and no one will ever know it's not "solid"14 K unless they look at the piece up-close. Whether or not a particular item is a good value depends on the buyer’s motivation. If you want actual gold at a substantially lower cost and aren't concerned with resale value, these newer types of product can be great values. 
     I recommend that consumers of gold and other jewelry products become informed about metal purity etc. in order to protect themselves and know what they're buying. I'm not discouraging anyone from buying this type of jewelry because it all depends on what you want. These items are a great value if you simply want a gold item that is gold and beautiful. If you're concerned at all about reselling jewelry items, then you would definitely want to determine the actual metal purity of items you purchase.

     I hope this information is helpful.

Regular Contributor
Posts: 199
Registered: ‎08-06-2012

Re: silicone in gold rings question

No, they are gold pieces, but they have resin inside the electroform (hollowed out gold) which is what makes them feel substantial and look exspensive. It's a way to make pieces look and feel like solid gold without the solid gold price. 

Valued Contributor
Posts: 757
Registered: ‎05-27-2013

Re: silicone in gold rings question

Wow, chrisq2, that is the best explanation I have read in a long time.  Thanks for your time and trouble.

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 5,465
Registered: ‎03-28-2015

Re: silicone in gold rings question

@chrisq2...very informative..Thank you!!

Respected Contributor
Posts: 3,596
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

Re: silicone in gold rings question

Bonnie, There is no way to tell how thick the plating the ring has, so wearing the item to the silicone core could be a problem.  Also sizing or repair, you can't size the ring with silicone core either up or down.  If you need work done on it in anyway, that would be off also.  In the future the new owner will have no idea that the piece is anything but the karat stamped so if they choose to repair or size the item will be ruined.   I don't buy jewelry like this.

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 7,188
Registered: ‎03-17-2010

Re: silicone in gold rings question

This article is extremely interesting ad reinforces why I will never buy Electroform or Resin Filled gold.....  (link at end of article).

 

If the gold is electroformed over copper, how is it that it can be stamped as 14 karat?

To answer this question we need to consider the following; to market jewelry as gold filled the karat gold must constitute at least 1/20 of the weight of the metal in the entire piece. To be rolled gold plate or gold overlay it must constitute 1/40 of the weight, this would apply when a layer of gold is affixed on all surfaces by mechanical means. If the thickness of the gold is between a 1/20 and 1/40 of the total weight of the metal then the purity stamp has to be preceded by a fraction accurately disclosing the weight of the gold i.e. 1/30 14K.

 

When we get into gold sheathing or gold plating there are specific plating thicknesses that must be attained for marking (just for clarity 1µ or 1 micron is 1/1000 of a millimeter, 25µ = 1/1000 or .001 inch). If marked as gold plate it has to be greater than 20 micro inch or greater than .5µ, gold wash must be .175µ,  to mark as heavy gold electroplating it has to have a thickness of 100 micro inches (.00001”) or 2.5µ.

As you can see marking jewelry is fairly complex and all of this brings us to resin filled jewelry.

 

Being the curious person I am I wanted to know just how thick the gold actually was on a piece of resin filled jewelry so I immediately went into “Destruction Mode”.

We had a piece of resin filled gold jewelry hanging around so I broke out the jewelers saw and cut it in half and what we found was as I suspected, a resin core, surrounded by copper, and covered (plated) with 14K gold. What this creates is a lightweight, strong, affordable (?) piece of jewelry. The donor bangle that was cut in half cost $100 and weighed approximately 7g total. Of course cutting this bangle in half wasn’t enough I wanted to grind, twist, polish and figure out the math.

Again to clarify, this is in no way scientific or 100% accurate these measurements are very simple and were made using basic machinist tools.

 

Using digital calipers and a micrometer, I measured the overall thickness of the bracelet, polished off the gold on on one side to expose the copper then re-measured to get the difference. Keep in mind that if I polished too aggressively and actually removed some copper, the measurement would be skewed and would indicate a thicker layer of gold.

 

As I measured with the calipers and micrometer, I verified the accuracy of my instruments by measuring a gauge block then measured the bracelet again. I compared the measurements and calculated the thickness of the gold to be somewhere around 12.5µ (my research indicates that some thicknesses of electroformed gold can be as thick as 250µ or .25 millimeters).

 

After calculating the thickness I want to know how much gold was on the entire piece so using a much less scientific method of measurement of which the details I won’t go into, figured the total gold weight of the piece was approximately .3g or about 1/2 pennyweight (again my method would be on the high side for the gold weight) accounting for roughly 1/25 of the entire weight.

Gold has been polished away to expose the copper base.

Also to be fair this was done with one manufacturer’s product and on one piece of jewelry. It’s unknown whether all manufacturers use identical processes rendering the same results, however I would have to believe they are very similar.


The mark on this piece is 14K over (separated by a horizontal line) Resin and I believe it needs to be viewed in the form of a fraction so the truth is that the 14K gold is a “fraction” of the piece that is made of resin. This is not easy for a layperson to understand.

 

Let's boil this all down, resin filled jewelry has a nic form and finish but now we know that even though it's stamped 14k (or some fraction thereof) through some minimal compliance or manipulation of the standards, it reall has NO SUBSTANTIAL  GOLD  CONTENT!!!

 

I guess you could think of it this way, if you purchase a piece of solid gold jewelry (which of course would be substantially more expensive than $100) it’s not only making an investment in your jewelry collection but you’re also making an investment in precious metals. When you purchase resin filled (Electroformed) jewelry it really is on the higher end of costume jewelry and should be considered DISPOSABLE.  If it gets damaged, dented or too scratched up it can’t be polished out, it can’t be repaired, and the gold recovered through a chemical process wouldn’t even pay for the chemicals.

 

The Fact – it’s lightweight, has nice form and finish, and is less expensive than its solid counterpart.

 

The Fiction – representing resin filled 14K gold jewelry as high-end 14K gold jewelry and not explaining that the gold content is so low that it is represented as a fraction or that it is made mostly of copper, in my opinion, is nothing more than a manipulation of the metal purity standards and unfettered marketing mumbo-jumbo that is designed specifically to make customers think they are getting much more than they actuall are.

 

I guess the old adage “If it sounds too good to be true then it probably isn’t” applies in this case.

 

http://www.coldforgerings.com/14k-resin-filled-jewelry-fact-or-fiction/

*~Smile...... it makes the wrinkles go up.....Unknown~*
Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 7,188
Registered: ‎03-17-2010

Re: silicone in gold rings question

(Sorry, some of my keys on my keyboard are sticking and leaving off letters.... )

*~Smile...... it makes the wrinkles go up.....Unknown~*
Respected Contributor
Posts: 2,084
Registered: ‎06-15-2016

Re: silicone in gold rings question

I look at it like wrapping a present with very, very thin giftwrapping paper! There has to be gold that can actually be held, separate from the silicone, tho it doesn't have to be heavy! So, if silicone were the gift, and gold the paper, that's how I see it. Of course, I think they form the item first then fill it with silicone.

Respected Contributor
Posts: 3,313
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

Re: silicone in gold rings question

[ Edited ]

I think Q4U had the best description, she said she looks at it like an M&M, thin coating with a chocolate filling