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    

Antique Orange Jade & Coral Bead Necklace With Gold CatchRare Antique Victorian 10k Gold & Filled Opal Garnet Pearl 14 Slide BraceletAntique Victorian Gold Filled Pearl Mesh Slide Bracelet Rare Chanel, Vintage, Ccs, Coco, Logo, Gold, Pearl, Long Chain, NecklaceAntique Victorian Etruscan Revival Gold Gilt Carnelian Cameo Locket PendantVintage French Art Nouveau Gold Gilt Rose Flower Leaf Dangle Pendant Necklace Vintage Antique Art Deco 1930's Blue Glass Crystal Bead Roll Gold Drop NecklaceVintage Signed Boucher Goldtone Blue Lapis Glass Spiral Bangle BraceletRare Antique Egyptian Revival Low Karat Gold Or Filled Enamel LocketBig Vintage Art Deco Egyptian Revival Gold Plate Snake Serpent Coil BraceletDesigner Sterling Silver Gold Vermeil Emerald Ruby & Sapphire Tassel NecklaceVintage Mexican Gold Gilt Filigree Chandelier Dangle Drop EarringsTrifari Huge Pin Clip Gold-plated, Enamel & Rhinestone Very Rare 1939 Book PieceVintage Lalique Gold Plate Crystal Art Glass Heliconia PendantAntique Austria Renaissance Revival Gold Gilt Enamel Pearl Ruby Paste BraceletRare Vintage French Couture Art Deco Silver Gold Plate Snake Serpent BraceletTrifari Ultra Rare Bracelet - Gold-plated, Enamel & Rhinestones Ca 1939Huge Kenneth Lane Kjl Couture Gold Coral Branch Cream Resin Runway Cuff BraceletRare Vintage Charles Revson 18k Gold Plate Cartier Love BraceletRare Vintage French Couture Art Deco Silver & Gold Plate Snake Serpent NecklaceMassive Vtg Kenneth J Lane Kjl Lapis Coral Branch Gold Gilt Bib Runway NecklaceVintage Brooch Christian Dior 1967 Germany Red Goldtone Retro Bridal JewelleryChristian Dior 80s Vintage Gold Necklace BoxedGorgeous Vintage Estate Signed Ciner Gold Tone Enamel Rhinestone Brooch!!! 1000hMuseum Quality 15ct 14k Gold Victorian Garnet Snake Mourning Necklace Wow!Vintage Solid 14k Gold Cats Eye Cabochon Arts And Crafts Stick PinSigned Joan Rivers Yellow Gold Gp Limited Edition Pave Orchid Brooch 515dAntique Victorian Gold Filled Crescent Moon Star Locket Pendant NecklaceVintage 14k Gold Estate Art Deco Swirl Ruby & Diamond Ring Wht/rose Gold Sz:7Fabulous Victorian Gold Filled Book Chain Necklace W/ Etruscan Pendant 53.06g Signed Weiss Bracelet Vintage Fruit Salad Rhinestone Gold Tone Heart Nice! 30182 Fabulous Antique Victorian Gold Filled Mourning Hair BroochesTrifari Pearl Belly Turtle - Gold-plating, Enamel, Cabochons & Rhinestones Vtg Mint Lg Charles Revson Ultima Ii 18k Gold Plate Cartier Love Bracelet W/box Fabulous Victorian 14k Gold Filled Etruscan Bypass Bracelet Scrap/use 28.43g Antique Victorian Tri Color Gold Filled Seed Pearl Watch Fob Slide ChainTrifari Sterling Beautiful Floral Pin Gold-plated, Blue Stones & RhinestonesAntique 1920s "edwardian" Gold G.f. & Black Enamel Camphor Glass Pendant W StoneSuperb Victorian Gold Filled Pocket Watch Fancy Link Chain Bracelet With FobsGrand Tour Victorian Gold Filled Standing Easle Shell Cameo Of AngelsPretty Vintage 1950's Rose Flowers Toledo Damascene Black Gold Enamel BraceletFabulous Victorian Gold Filled Fancy Mesh Chain Necklace W/etruscan Locket 33g Vintage Lanvin Paris Modernist Large Gold Plated Black Lucite Pendant NecklaceAntique Vintage Bohemian Garnet Gold Plated Sterling Silver Pin Pendant NecklaceRare - Vintage 1950's Signed Coro Faux Scarab & Gold Festoon Fringe Bib NecklaceLong Vintage Swarovski Bezel Set Purple Crystal Gold Necklace 35" 9mmVintage Rhinestone Bangle Bracelet Purple Signed Panetta Gold Tone Open WorkRare Signed Florenza Bracelet Rhinestone Fruit Salad Flower Gold Tone 3043Antique Victorian 1850s Pietra Dura Floral Fine Micro Mosaic Gold PinChanel Designer Karl Lagerfeld Gold Crystals Enamel Angel Pin Brooch Free ShippiFine Estate1930's-40s Art Deco Amethyst Czech Glass Necklace Heavy Gold Overlay Antique Victorian Etruscan Revival Gold Filled Bohemian Garnet Bypass BraceletAwesome Pink And Purple Rhinestone Gold Tone Filigree Bracelet And Earrings SetVintage Gorgeous Signed Nettie Rosenstein Large Gold Coin Brooch, Citrine StoneD&e Juliana Blue Art Glass Stones Ab Blue Rhinestone Gold Leaf Brooch Pin Joan Boyce Mini Kissable Rose Gold Gp 7.5" Cuff BraceletAntique Victorian Estate Gold Filled Red Rhinestone Locket Pendant NrJoan Rivers Bumble Bee Emerald Green Crystal Goldtone Brooch Pin Signed VintageAntique Victorian Edwardian Gold Metal Book Chain Locket Pendant Necklace 61 G Designer Sterling Silver Gold Vermeil Turquoise & White Sapphire Earrings