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    

Chanel Gold Plated Cc Logos Clip Vintage Earrings #551a Rise-onChanel Gold Plated Cc Logos Vintage 2 Way Chain Belt Necklace #559a Rise-onTrifari Crown Gold Tone Ladies NecklaceBig Vintage Joseff Of Hollywood Russian Gold Gilt Bee Insect BroochChanel Gold Plated Cc Imitation Pearl Vintage Pin Brooch #568a Rise-onChanel Gold Plated Cc Chain Necklace Choker #553a Rise-onChanel Gold Plated Cc Imitation Pearl Chain Necklace Choker #558a Rise-onVintage Signed Hollycraft Rhinestone Christmas Tree Brooch Pin Gold Tone JewelryAntique Art Nouveau Coro Gold Gilt Filigree Enamel Flower BraceletAntqiue Rolled Gold Victorian Micro Mosaic Flower BroochVintage Joseff Of Hollywood Russian Gold Gilt Bee Insect BroochVintage Joseff Of Hollywood Russian Gold Gilt Bee Insect BroochStunning Trifari Multi-layered Goldtone Clear Rhinestones NecklaceAntique Art Deco 18k White Gold Filled Aquamarine Paste BraceletChanel Gold Plated Cc Logos Charm Chain Vintage Necklace Choker #380a Rise-onChanel Gold Plated Cc Vintage Pin Brooch #566a Rise-onHi Quality Vintage Lanvin Paris Gold Plated Turquoise Lucite Collar NecklaceChanel Gold Plated Cc Logos Vintage Pin Brooch #571a Rise-onAntique Victorian Gold Tone Enamel Scroll & Floral 7" Long Panel Bracelet Bnw NrVtg Hattie Carnegie Molded Glass Fruit Salad Seed Pearl Gold Brooch Earrings SetChanel Gold Plated Cc Logos Vintage Pin Brooch #555a Rise-onAntique Victorian Rose Gold Fill Locket Opal Cabochon Etched 1/2"Chanel Gold Plated Cc Logos Clip Vintage Earrings #550a Rise-onAntique Edwardian Gold Filled Filigree Ruby & Zircon Paste PendantChanel Gold Plated Cc Logos Clip Vintage Earrings #557a Rise-onVtg Antique Victorian 1900’s Wise Owl Yellow Gold Gilt Locket Bracelet CharmAntique Vintage 14k Or 15k Rose Gold Diamond Ruby Art Deco Ring Vintage Green Bakelite Catalin Swirl 14k Gold 1" Long Hoop Dangle Drop EarringsVintage Coro Duette Owls Clip Pin, Gold Tone Fur Clip With Pin ClaspSigned Ciner Emerald Or Jade Green Caviar Mesh Gold Plated 6.5" Bracelet Bnw NrChunky Vintage Couture Yves Saint Laurent Gold Plate Red Acrylic Bead NecklaceVintage Signed Lanvin Gold Plated Rhinestone Cuban Link 17" Necklace W/ Tag NrHermes Gold Plated Clip Red Vintage Email Earrings #561a Rise-onVintage Signed Art Gold-tone Metal Multicolor Rhinestone Star Pin BroochVintage Lalique Gold Plate Crystal Art Glass Pendant NecklaceAntique Art Deco Gold Gilt Filigree Turquoise Czech Glass BraceletVintage Florenza Gold-tone Metal Red Rhinestone F/pearl & Cabochons Pin BroochHermes Gold Plated & Black Leather Kelly Bangle Vintage Bracelet #562a Rise-onAntique Victorian Gold Filled Wedding Cuff Bracelet PairAntique Art Nouveau Gold Filled LocketVtg Ciner Signed Neo Victorian Brutalist Textured Gold Rhinestone Drop NecklaceVintage Gold Plate Purple Rhinestone Pink Aventurine Flower Art Glass NecklaceEstate Find. Elizabeth Taylor ''hearts Of Tandem'' Horse Gold Tone Brooch PinAntique Victorian Gold Filled Long Dangle EarringsAntique Victorian Gold Filled Carved Warrior Shell Cameo Brooch PinVintage Art Deco Gold Plate Filigree Pink Blue Rhinestone BraceletVintage Art Deco Nouveau Gold Filled Czech Topaz Beveled Glass Pendant NecklaceAntique Art Deco Rolled Gold Pinchbeck Big Blue Butterfly Wing Pendant NecklaceVintage Green Rhinestone Gold Tone Christmas Tree Pin Brooch Stunning Vintage Estate Gold Tone Signed Panetta Wreath Brooch!!! 2724fVintage Gold Tone Pearl Crystal Rhinestone Molded Lucite Prawn Shrimp Brooch PinVintage Castlecliff Gold Plate Turquoise Blue Rhinestone Bangle BraceletVintage Brooch Pin Unsigned Hobe Pink Green Glass Star Rhinestone Gold ToneHuge Vintage Nettie Rosenstein Gold Over Sterling Silver Royal Crest BroochLg Antique Nouveau Gold F Repousse 2 Feminine Ladies Jeweled Picture Locket W&sbVintage Accessocraft Gold Plate Rhinestone Christmas Tree BroochVtg Antique Art Deco Victorian Orange Rhinestone Glass Gold Tone Chain NecklaceRare Antique Victorian Gold Gilt Genuine Scarab Beetle CufflinksJoan Rivers Retired Gold Tone Bumble Bee W/10 Interchangeable Bodies Brooch PinAntique Java Surakarta Court Iron Gold Inlay Snake Belt Buckle & Slide