Gold Metal Beads
Glittering bright, gold beads are for those who are enticed by the lure of the yellow metal and can afford it – for gold is the most expensive metal (other than Platinum). Gold beads look great whether they are teamed with precious gems or just by themselves. The history and myths related to gold are myriad and gold beaded jewellery serves dual purposes of ornamentation and as a secure investment for the future.
Beaded gold jewelry can be heavy or light and gold beads weigh quite a bit especially if they are solid. If you do not prefer traditional designs in gold beaded jewelry, plenty of designers offer economical, lightweight, contemporary patterns in gold beaded jewelry designs for office wear or at events where heavy beaded gold ornaments can look ostentatious.
Just like silver, gold too is a soft metal – a slight application of force and pure gold bends or a light knock can dent it. This property of gold has advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that gold can be drawn into wires which thinner than sewing thread and gauzy, diaphanous sheets. Even after it is drawn into such flimsy wires or sheets, it is possible to work with the metal. Skilful artists who craft the delicate filigreed gold beads use this property of gold to make eye-catching patterns.
Gold beaded jewellery is strung together with either metal wires or chains, thick or thin cords or other materials like foxtail. The stringing material used depends on the size of the hole. A larger hole with require a stronger and thicker cord to balance the bead and a thinner holed gold bead can be balanced with a thin strong wire. Gold is extremely malleable and is usually mixed with other metals to give it strength and durability. Gold beaded jewellery will never tarnish or blacken unlike silver nor will it ever depreciate in value. In fact, good quality gold beaded ornaments will always appreciate in value as the price of gold is always headed north!
Every country has its own traditional gold beaded jewellery and the designs of the beaded jewellery vary from region to region. For example a Moslem country will not have designs or images depicting living creatures like animals etc. whereas a Bali gold bead will predominantly have nature symbols. In India , gold beaded jewellery is compulsory for Hindu marriages. Gold, black and sometimes red beads are combined to create the Mangalsutra (symbol of a Hindu married woman).
Purity of Gold
Gold used in jewellery is never pure – other metals are added to it before making ornaments. The amount of metal mixed into pure gold reduces its purity and “Karat” measures the resultant purity of the gold. An easy method to understand the concept of Karats (K) is to divide gold in 24 parts – pure or fine gold is classified as 24 Karats which signifies 100% purity. Likewise 18 Karat gold has 18 parts of fine gold and 6% of other metals giving it a purity of approximately 75%. Other popular gold bead karatage is 14 K and 22 K.The current trend to identify purity, guaranteed by the manufacturer is Hallmarked Gold. Gold beaded jewellery carrying this mark have the guarantee of purity by either the World Gold Council or other reputed international manufacturers.
Most gold beaded jewelry, if bought from well-know stores will be Hallmarked with the Karats ( either 18K or 22K etc.) mentioned on the piece.
Popular Gold Bead Types
A quick search on the internet throws up millions of sites offering gold beaded jewelry and gold beads for creating jewelry at home – authentic vintage gold beaded jewelry, modern lightweight designs, ethnic heavy wedding ornaments, Bali Gold beads, gold-filled beads, gold-covered beads, gold-vermeil beads etc. Different companies have interesting names for their gold beads and research is recommended for those who would like to buy their gold beaded jewelry online.
Hollow gold beads are heavier than similar beads made of other precious metals. Some hollow gold beads are sometimes filled with lacquer or other materials to make them more durable. If the piece that has captivated you, uses hollow beads, ensure they are not 22K or 24K – since 22K gold is not as hard as either 14K or 18K gold beads and hollow gold beads, in particular need to have a higher mix of other metals to increase the durability and strength of the bead, so it does not become de-shaped. Hollow beads are not suitable for Bangles, rings and many stores do not carry hollow beaded jewelry for these jewelry items.
Gold – filled or Rolled Gold beads are usually 14 karat gold beads which have been heated and pressure bonded to a base-metal centre (such as nickel) and the gold layer is a thick coating of 14k gold which will not come off as time passes. The advantage is that gold filled beads are stronger and look good even after years of use. The layer of gold is much thicker than electroplating and hence gold-filled beads are preferred to plated or even gold vermeil. Recently, gold filled beads carry a marking – for example a 12K/20 marking signifies 5% or one twentieth of the entire weight of the bead is in 12K gold.
Gold Vermeil is a technique of applying a thin coating of gold (usually 14K) but thicker than electroplated gold coating on a sterling silver bead. These are less expensive tthan pure gold beads and require care while using since the vermeil plating can come off, if treated harshly.
Another type of gold bead is the Cloisonné bead. Gold wires are soldered together to form a bead and the centre is filled with enamel and polished. Cheaper Cloisonné beads using wires of metals like silver, copper, nickel are also popular.
Precious metal clay is extremely pliable and some handmade jewellery artists utilize this clay to make delicate gold beaded jewellery with or without precious stones embedded into it. 22K gold dust or small particles gold are mixed with water and binders. After the required pattern has been formed, the clay is fired and only the gold bead remains – molded into the set design. This is a relatively new technique but the purity of gold is higher and very interesting beaded jewellery pieces can be created with precious metal clay.
Colors of Gold
Gold has had a yellow color for centuries, but enterprising manufacturers have invented gold beaded jewellery in several other colors by increasing the quantity of other metals added to gold – to bring out the hues of the added metal. Colored gold requires more metal addition and the gold beaded jewellery and the purity is either 18K or lower.Colored gold beaded jewellery (rose gold, green gold, and white gold) have different metals mixed into gold to give them the required hue. Extra Copper makes gold rose colored while Zinc adds a greenish tinge and a higher percentage of Nickel makes gold white.
White polish called Rhodium polish is often applied on parts of the gold bead making the bead glint. Rhodium polish brings out the yellow color beautifully by highlighting the contrast of yellow and white. From afar, a Rhodium polished piece can pass of as diamonds in the gold beads!
Gold beaded jewellery with a dash of enamel coating in colors ranging from red, blue to green can add color to the yellow of the metal. Multi-colored enamel coated gold jewellery can be teamed with several outfits – the coating doesn’t last for more than a couple of years. This is a great way to add color to pieces which do not incorporate any gemstones.
A noble metal considered to be as immortal as the gods – gold jewellery occupies the top spot in every woman’s collection. If the design you own is old and uninspiring, get a brand new creation made of the same gold by having it melted and crafted it into another ornament.