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 Rare Antique Late Georgian Victorian Low Karat Gold Emerald Paste EarringsRare Vintage Trifari Gold Plate Jelly Belly Lucite Collar NecklaceRare Vintage Ciner Gold Plate Sapphire Ruby Emerald Rhinestone BraceletVintage Demario Gold Plate Pearl Turquoise Art Glass Rhinestone Beaded NecklaceGold Plated Antique Italian Micro Mosaic BraceletRare Vintage Panetta Gold Plate Navy Blue Enamel Rhinestone Flower NecklaceVictorian Antique Etruscan Pinchbeck Gold Lovers Knot Turquoise Stone Brooch PinVintage Marcel Boucher Gold Plate Sapphire Cabochon Rhinestone Bangle BraceletAntique Gold Plated Cameo Swivel Brooch - A Winged Goddess On Two Horse ChariotVtg French Egyptian Revival Enamel Signed Large 4 3/4” Pendant Goldtone NecklaceAntique Victorian Gold Filled Almandine Garnet Etruscan Revival NecklaceVery Nice Antique Victorian Rolled Rose Gold Fancy Link Muff Or Long ChainJomaz Signed Rhinestone & Green Stone Gold Tone Brooch & Earring Vintage(#2999)Antique Victorian Rose Gold Filled Gf Etruscan Wedding Bypass Bracelets SetVintage Estate Gold Filled Locket Pendant No Reserve Antique Vintage Art Deco 1930s Pink Crystal Glass Bead Rolled Gold Drop Necklace**estate 14k Yellow Gold Green Jade Hinged Bangle Bracelet 40.7 Grams 2.34" Vtg French Pate De Verre Art Glass Flower Leaf Cluster Gold Textile Bib NecklaceAntique Victorian Oval Turquoise Cabochon & Gold Filled Drop Dangle Earrings Vintage Jewellery Gold Tone Turquoise Flower BraceletVintage Christian Dior Gold Tone Bracelet An Exceptional Custom Made Citrine & 18k Gold Runway 1980s Torsade NecklaceVintage 1965 Christian Dior Designer Henkel Grosse Germany Gold Necklace Signed Antique Art Deco Brass Enamel Marcasite Flower Earrings Gold Filled WiresAntique Gold Pocket Watch Chain Slide Ladies Opal Filigree Art Nouveau VintageVintage Art Deco Art Nouveau Cicada Bug Goldtone Paste 1.25” PendantExquisite Vtg Signed Massive Gripoix Poured Glass Emerald Ruby Gold Runway CuffVtg Panetta Signed Rare Gold Pearl Crystal Rhinestone Dripping Brooch PendantVintage Reinad Signed Enormous Rarest Jeweled Unicorn Cabochon Old Gold BroochAuthentic Hermes Cloisonne Enamel Chain Link Bangle Bracelet Blue Gold ToneAntique Large Gold Plated Amethyst & Aqua Paste Set Buckle Converted To BroochEstate Antique Victorian 2 Tone Gold Filled Engraved Applied Panels NecklaceVintage Antique Victorian Gold Tone Huge Large Shell Cameo Ornate Oval BeltWonderful Ladies Antique Vintage Rolled Gold Guard / Muff Chain & Photo PendantCirca 1930s Vintage Solid Gold & 16mm Amethyst Ring Size M Us 6.5Antique Victorian Ladies Gold Filled Watch Chain Necklace Vintage Italian Micro Mosaic Gold Tone BraceletVintage Art Deco 1930's Gold Foil Wedding Cake Venetian Glass Bead Long NecklaceAntique Victorian Rare ''coffin'' Mourning Picture Pendant Necklace Gold FilledVintage Elizabeth Taylor Signed Couture Egyptian Pharaoh Cleopatra Gold BraceletVtg Signed Trifari Stunning Multi Leaf Earring Brooch Set Goldtone W Blue StonesLook Of Fine Jewelry Lapis Sterling Silver Gold Vermeil Estate Necklace $3k New!Art Deco 18kt Yellow Gold 1.43ctw Sapphire & 0.86ctw Diamond Ring Size 5 1/4 ~nrAntique 9ct Gold, Rubies & Pearls Sweetheart Brooch By 'j R Griffin'Estate Nwt Metropolitan Museum Of Art Mma Medieval Unicorn Gold Overlay Pin1800's Victorian White Paste Rose Gold Colored Gold Filled Drop Dangle Earrings Antique Gold Filled Hinged Bangle Bracelet W/ Diamond Rubies & Seed PearlsVintage Edwardian Gold Tone 54" Guard ChainAntique Victorian Guard Muff Chain 60 Inches Dog Clip Rolled Gold NecklaceStunning Vintage Estate Gold Tone Dog Puppy Enamel Rhinestone Brooch!!! 6589vStunning Vintage Estate Signed Weiss Ab Rhinestone Gold Tone Bracelet!!! G4567Antique Victorian Etruscan Revival Gold Filled Gf Rose Bi-color Bypass BraceletGorgeous Kirks Folly Lilac Flower Fairy Pin Brooch Gold Tone Rhinestones Enamel!An Oversized 80s Heavy Gold Plated & Onyx Runway Cocktail RingVintage Gold Tone Enamel Rhinestone And Pearl Maltese Cross Brooch PendantVintage Necklace 1950s Faux Pearl Drops Clear Crystal Goldtone Bridal JewelleryStunning Vintgae Estate Gold Tone Signed Cown Trifari Rhinestone Brooch!!! 6587bStunning Vintage Estate High End Rhinestone Gold Tone Necklace!!! G4389Antique Edwardian 14k Gold Seed Pearl Black Sardonyx Carved Cameo BroochVintage Estate Signed Desiger Jason 14k Gold Shell Bangle Bracelet No Reserve