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 10k Yellow Gold Filigree Ornate Victorian Shell Cameo Brooch Pendant YqzVintage Charles Revson Aldo Cippulo Gold Plate Cartier Love BraceletVtg Vendome Chrysanthemum Flower Enamel Rhinestone Gold Plat Pin Brooch EarringsAntique 14k Gold Victorian Mourning Hair Portrait Brooch Pin Pendant LocketVintage Necklace Trifari 1960s Faux Pearl Goldtone Fringe Retro Bridal JewelleryVintage Mma Egyptian Revival Gold Plate King Tut Hieroglyphics PendantVintage Givenchy Signed Rarest Medusa Jeweled Gold Charm Couture Runway NecklaceAntique Vintage Rolled Gold And "amethyst" Earings And Necklace,spider BroochBig Vintage Art Deco Gold Plate Rhinestone Figural Frog Pin Clip BroochVintage Earrings Ysl Yves Saint Laurent 1970s Lilac Glass & Goldtone JewelleryUnusual Antique Victorian Rolled Gold Locket Set With A CompassVintage Art Deco Gold Gilt Carved Chinese Cinnabar Lantern Charm BraceletVintage Necklace Earring Bracelet Set Lucite Gold Tn Heavy Egyptian Revival 313Gorgeous Vintage Estate Gold Tone Rhinestone White Heart Cab Necklace!!! 290cAntique Edwardian/victorian Gold Peridot Drop Earrings-with DamageGlitzy Vintage Bracelet Juliana Purple Glass Clear Rhinestone Gold Tone Tennis Wow Vtg Antique Necklace Art Deco Or Victorian Book Chain Fancy Pendant Gold TonStunning Vintage Gold Tone Unsigned Weiss Rhinestone Butterfly Brooch!!! 1176uC1900 Gold Filled Embossed Chain Heart Charm Bracelet W/ Heart Padlock Key ClaspRare Vintage Solid 22k Gold Bangle Bracelet Jade 32g Asian Unique! 1269Vtg Unsign Eugene Glass Rhinestone Gold Gilt Brass Tassel Necklace EarringsVintage D&e Juliana Easter Egg Gold Tone Bracelet Brooch SetAntique Victorian Rose 10k Gold Filled Gf Etched Leaf Aesthetic LocketMiriam Haskell Vintage Necklace Victorian Gold Tone 27" Book Chain* Free ShipVintage Mma Egyptian Revival Gold Plate Hathor Goddess Pendant Or BroochAntique Victorian - Rolled Rose Gold - Albert Watch Chain & Watch Fob - C1890Vintage High End Gold Plate Green Jeweled Horse Head Clip EarringsSlinky Vtg Givenchy 1976 Paris Couture Runway Gold Knotted Lariat Tassel SautoirLarge Vintage Art Deco 14kt White Gold Sapphire Carved Cameo Pendant Brooch PinVintage Gold Plate Turquoise Blue Rhinestone Pearl Brooch & Clip EarringsAntique Victorian Gold Filled Enamel Engraved Initial E Pendant NecklaceCiner 3 Piece Set Signed Choker Necklace Bracelet Bangle Gold Tone RhinestoneVintage Art Deco Signed Czech Red Molded Glass Gold Gilt Filigree NecklaceAntique Victorian Estate Gold Filled 50ct + Amethyst Bracelet No ReserveVintage Brooch Trifari 1960s Faux Pearl Goldtone Flower Retro Bridal JewelleryVintage Earrings Kramer Large 1950s Coral Pink & Goldtone Retro Bridal JewelleryVintage 14k White Gold Tested Diamond Huge Aquamarine Cocktail Ring 12.5g Sz 5.5Vintage 14k White Yellow Gold Diamond Bracelet 25 Grams Mom Gift Nice! 1272Stunning Vintage Estate Gold Tone Colorful Lucite Beaded Necklace!!! 1159xVintage Jewellery Delightful Amber Topaz Glass Gold Tortoise Brooch Pin & SafetyVintage Pendant Necklace Trifari 1950s Red & Goldtone Retro Bridal JewelleryVintage Mma Egyptian Revival Gold Plate Ram Head & Snake Amun Amulet PendantVintage Set Parure Necklace Choker Bracelet Earring Ab Rhinestone Gold Tone 1105Antique Victorian 1890 Estate Gold Filled Engraved Bangle Bracelet NrVintage Bracelet Kramer 1950s Coral Pink Lucite Goldtone Retro Bridal JewelleryVintage Trifari Gold Tone Leaf Blue Green Rhinestone Necklace Earrings Set A264Vintage Cherry Red Amber Bakelite Barrel Beads & 14k Gold Necklace Unstrung NrVintage Necklace Kramer 1950s Coral Lucite & Goldtone Retro Bridal JewelleryVintage Ornate Art Deco Signed Czech Red Carnelian Glass Gold Gilt Necklace Vintage 4 Piece Trifari Costume Jewelry Set Gold Leaves & Pearls Original Tag NrAntique Victorian Slide Watch Chain. Opal Stone Glass? Gold Filled. "a Story Written In The Sun" Goldtone Bangle Bracelet Marked Lilly Pulitzer 2014Vintage Necklace 1950s Murano Millefiori Glass Goldtone Retro Bridal JewelleryTrifari Earrings Clip Blue And White Rhinestone In Gold Tone Metal [1483]Rare Designer Dominique Aurientis Monkey Gold Tone Large Clip On Earrings ParisStunning Victorian Gold Filled Mesh Slide Bracelet W/pearls Scrap/use 16.71g Vintage Signed Monet Jewellery Sparkling Clear Rhinestone Gold Bar Brooch PinAntique Victorian 12k Gold Filled Wide Hinged Bangle Bracelet W/ Floral EtchingGorgeous Vintage Estate Gold Tone High End Pink Moonstones Necklace!!! 1166kVintage Art Deco Antique 1930's Lapis Lazuli Gold Stone Bead Graduated Necklace