In costume jewelry, all that glitters is never purely gold. Instead, the base metal of rings, necklaces, brooches, and bracelets is plated, washed, or flashed with gold of a fineness typically not greater than 10-karat. When gold is plated onto sterling silver, the result is known as vermeil.

Substituting less-valuable materials for gold, or even watering down pure gold into a cheaper and more marketable form of the precious metal, goes back at least to the 18th century. That’s when, in 1720, Christopher Pinchbeck combined copper and zinc to create a gold-like alloy. Pinchbeck was used by pocket-watch makers and fine jewelers alike.

Mechanical and electroplating techniques arrived with the industrialization of the 1800s. One of the most popular mechanical processes produced a metal that even today is called gold filled, even though the gold the customer sees resides on the outside of the piece—”filled” is a persistent misnomer. During the Victorian Era, gold-filled jewelry was especially popular.

As costume jewelry came into vogue in the 1920s and ’30s, words like goldtone or gold-tone were used by manufacturers and designers to describe their gold-plated or gold-washed pieces. After World War II, Trifari even made up a name, Trifarium, for the gold-colored alloy that served as the base for its rhinestone-studded creations.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Researching Costume Jewelry

Researching Costume Jewelry

Jewelry lovers, venture through this amazing database of vintage jewelry articles, catalogs, and brochures, as well… [read review or visit site]

Emerald City Vintage Costume Jewelry

Emerald City Vintage Costume Jewelry

It looks like we're not in Kansas anymore with Elizabeth Rowlands' site on vintage costume jewelry from the 1940s a… [read review or visit site]

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Jewelry collectors, feast your eyes on this internet gem! It's a goldmine of jewelry information featuring all styl… [read review or visit site]

All About Jewels Dictionary

All About Jewels Dictionary

This incredible reference dictionary on jewelry, from Enchantedlearning.com, is both beautiful and comprehensive. S… [read review or visit site]

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

With its vast galleries featuring clear images of jewelry and style, this site really covers it all! Divided up by … [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Fine Antique Victorian Gold Filled Lily Flower Memento Locket Pendant NecklaceVintage 80s Ysl Yves Saint Laurent Jeweled Gold Drop Dangle Designer EarringsUnusual Joan Rivers Marked Gold Studded Green Eyed Bee Pin Brooch WowAuth Chanel Pearl And Gold Necklace With Rose With Cc Made In FranceAntique Victorian Gold Filled Coral Art Glass Dog Tooth Pearl Festoon NecklaceVintage Christian Dior Amber And Gold Bead Choker NecklaceD&e Juliana Watermelon Rhinestone Gold Tone Green Orange Amber 2 5/8" Vtg BroochSigned Crown Trifari Vintage Necklace Leaf Flower Gold Tone Lucite Pearl 3579Military Ww1 Sweetheart Gold Metal Soldier's Cap Photograph Locket / Fob C1915Victorian Gold Filled Garnet Estate Brooch With Pear Shape And Round Stones Nr!Antique Victorian 10k Gold Filled Blue Rhinstone Bangle BraceletRetro Vintage Gold Plate Watermelon Rhinestone Collar NecklaceVintage Whiting & Davis Gold Tone Mesh Snake Cuff Bracelet Coil Wrap AroundVintage Art Deco 18k White Gold Filigree Sapphire & Diamond Ring - Sz 5.5 (2.1g)Joan Rivers Original Gold Tone Bee Figural Brooch Pin VintageDazzling Vintage Estate Gold Tone Signed Florenza Rhinestone Cab Brooch!!! 6352mGenuine Vintage Marked Christian Dior Necklace Gold Plate & Enamel Designer NrA Vintage French Lanvin Goldtone And Lucite NecklaceSigned Lisner Vintage Necklace Flower Pendant Green Ab Rhinestone Gold Tn 3769Vintage Chanel Logo Faux Pearl Goldtone Clip-on Hanging Earrings 2-1/2" X 1-1/8"Joan Rivers Fresh As A Daisy Goldtone Enamel Green Crystal Eyes Bee Pins Brocch Krementz Signed Green Jade Pearl Gold Tone Tennis Bracelet Vintage 7" Length Antique Art Deco 14k Gold Grosgrain Ribbon BraceletAntique Victorian Estate 1911 Gold Filled Shell Engraved Locket Pendant NrVintage Gold Tone High End Green & Ab Rhinestone Bracelet Necklace Set!! 6355wVintage 12k Gold Filled Bangle BraceletVintage Haute Couture Inna Cytrine Gold Plate Lucite Dangle EarringsSigned Crown Trifari Vintage Bracelet Flower Swirl Clear Rhinestone Gold Tn 3783Signed Swarovski Tag Auroracrystal Bezel Encased Sautoir Gold 35" Vtg NecklaceStunning Vintage Estate Gold Tone Leaf Bundle Signed Crown Trifari Brooch! 4355eAntique Vintage Victorian Gold Filled Repousse Locket Necklace Ps Co. Rose GoldAntique Victorian Gold Filled Vintage Watch Fob Chain Chatelaine 3594Chanel 31 Rue Cambon Clip Gold Tone Earrings / Faux Pearl Nice!Vintage Gold Tone Signed Crown Trifari Rhinestone Earrings Necklace Set!! 4371wRegency Gorgeous Green & Gold Rhinestone Vintage PinVintage Important Solid Bronze Artist Signed 1989 Bronze 24kt Gold BraceletAntique Book-style Locket Or Fob-engraved Shore Bird-gold Filled?-good-nrAntique Victorian 12k Gold Gf Ladies Watch Chain Slide Necklace~amethyst FobAuthentic Chanel Signed Cc Logos Gold Tone Clip On Button Earrings (one Inch )Darling Victorian Gold Seed Pearl Bee Ring 14ktAntique Victorian Gold Filled Opal Pocket Watch Chain Slide Ladies Vintage 1890sVintage Marcel Boucher Pin # 8518p Gold Tone Floral Spray Ruby & Clear StonesVintage Carved Red Coral Gold Stud EarringsJoan Rivers Gold Tone & Rhinestone Mouse Brooch PinVintage Signed Crown Trifari Gold-tone Metal Pendant NecklaceVintage Crown Trifari Signed Gold Metal Necklace Earrings Set Green Rhinestones Vintage Estate Gold Tone Signed Florenza Glass Bead Lucky Charm Bracelet! 6367sSigned Swarovski Tag Pastel Crystal Bezel Encased Sautoir Gold 35" Vtg NecklaceVintage Crown Trifari Bracelet Earrings Necklace Goldtone Leaf Fx Pearl ParureVintage Miriam Haskell Gold Pin With Pearls Antique Victorian Signed Bates & Bacon Gold Filled Vintage Watch Fob Chain 3592Unusual Retro Vintage Gold Plate Multi Color Rhinestone Sputnik BraceletVintage Jewellery Gorgeous Sapphire Lucite & Clear Rhinestone Gold BraceletVtg Cherry Amber Bakelite Barrel Bead Faturan Necklace 14k Gold Clasp - 78 GramsAntique Victorian Edwardian Rose Gold Filled Etched Rhinestone Flower LocketF&c Antique Victorian Gold Albert Pocket Watch Chain Ornate Fob Pendant Antique Gold Filled Bracelet W/ Filigree & Amethyst StoneAntique Vintage Art Deco 10k White Gold Onyx Diamond Filigree Pendant NecklaceVintage Metropolitan Museum Of Art Gold Plate Egyptian Revival King Tut PendantVintage Weiss Pink Purple Green Yellow Gold Tone Bracelet & Clip On Earrrings T1