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    

Fabulous Victorian Gold Filled Book Chain Necklace W/ Etruscan Locket 64g Vintage Edwardian Cufflinks 1930's 9ct Gold FrontsAntique Victorian Aesthetic Silver With Gold Bracelet Bangle B/ham 1884 M & LVintage Dead Stock Givenchy Toggle Chain Necklace Gold Tone Chunky Auth/.99nrVintage Lge.gold Tone Trifari Crown Brooch/pin Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire Cabochon Trifari Gold Sapphire Glass Cabochon Rhinestone Enamel Swirl Hug Clip EarringsKenneth Jay Lane K.j.l Large Gold Tone Crocodile Alligator Necklace & Pendant NrAntique Victorian Unusual Gold Metal Pocket Watch Fob Padlock & Watch Key SparesVtg 80s Chanel France Couture Huge Gold Cc Logo Buttons Quilted Wide Runway Cuff1976 Mma King Tut Egyptian Pharaoh Death Mask Gold Necklace Pendant VintageAntique Victorian A&zc Co 14/10 Gold Filled Dual Curb Chain Watch Fob 50.2gVtg Authentic Coco Chanel Gold And Silver Toned Clip EarringsAntique Victorian Gold Plated & Enamel Photo Or Hair Locket Antique Victorian 1" Wide Gold Filled Hinged Bangle Bracelet Floral Etch 54 GramFabulous 7/8" Wide Victorian Gold Filled Hinged Bracelet Scrap/use 45.43gAntique Victorian Gold Gf Micromosaic Micro Mosaic Etruscan Bypass BraceletVintage 1950s 1960's Murano Glass Venetian Gold Foiled Sapphire Blue NecklaceSigned Monet 60s Haute Couture Lariat Sash Gold Tone Glam 30" Long Vtg NecklaceVintage Coco Chanel Signed Rare Authentic 80s Chandelier Gold Logo Clip EarringsVintage Art Deco Venetian Murano Foil Glass Bead Necklace Gold Aventurine & BlueVintage Antique Art Deco 1930's Green Gold Foil Venetian Glass Bead NecklaceVintage Signed Christian Dior Necklace Limited Edition Gold Plated Crystal Bees1896 Elgin 14k Gold Filled Full Hunter Pocket Watch 48" Chain No Scrap 57g Runs5 Signed Weiss Kramer Hedison Gold Tone Christmas Tree Brooch Pins W RhinestonesAntique Victorian 2.25" Large Carved Shell Cameo Gold Filled Brooch Pin PendantVintage Trifari Gold Tone & Blue Enamel Fleur De Lis PinVintage Pr St Co Cameo Secret Locket 12 K Gold Filled 1920'sQvc Joan Rivers Goldtone Black Hand Enameled Bee Hinged Bangle Bracelet 141pVintage Signed Art Gold-tone Metal Rhinestone Enamel Christmas Tree Pin BroochVintage Cartier Love Bracelet By Charles Revson 18kt Gold Electroplate Beautiful Vintage Art Deco Carved Lapis Lazuli On 9ct Gold Necklace Antique Victorian Gold Filled & Rhinestone Cross & Flower Double Locket PendantVictorian Gold Filled Etched Purple Amethyst Cab Locket Fob Watch Key ChainVintage Chunky Gold-tone & Sparkling Rhinestone Cocktail BraceletAntique Gold Vintage Seahorse Figural Skeleton Key Necklace PendantVintage Panetta Necklace Earrings & Ring Goldtone Green & Crystal RhinestonesVintage Alex And Ani Peace Love Beaded Art Glass Gold Tone Bangle BraceletFine 18kt Gold Natural Diamonds Necklace Vintage Pendant W&h Co. Victorian/edwardian Locket Gold Filled Moon And Star Rhinestone AccentQvc Rare Joan Rivers Goldtone Changeable 10 Color Pierced Earring Wardrobe T795Vintage Joan Rivers Classics Collections Gold Tone Pave Orchid Brooch Pin Stunning Vintage Estate Gold Tone Signed Art Rhinestone Flower Bracelet!! 5525vVintage Florenza Signed Turquoise Rhinestone Faux Pearl Pin Brooch Gold ToneDesigner $3k Blackened Sterling Silver 24kt Gold Plate London Blue Topaz RingVintage Gold Tone And Garnet Bracelet
Ornately Engraved Victorian Gold Filled Hinged Bracelet Scrap/use 20.23g Vintage Antique Victorian Engraved Gold Filled Flower Bangle BraceletEgyptian Revival Art Deco Vintage Gold Tone Metal Tassel Dangle NecklaceAntique Art Deco Vintage Necklace Pendant Flower Rose Gold Tn Flake 517Stunning Victorian To Vintage Gold Filled Hinged Bracelet Scrap/use 27.83g Kenneth Jay Lane K.j.l Large Heave Mcm Gold Tone Dangle Hand Crafted EarringsGiant Antique Gold Filled Mourning Cameo Locket & Y Pocket Watch Chain NecklaceAquamarine Brooch Pendant Rose Gold 15 K Filigree Huge Stone With Pearls WowAntique Victorian Rose Yellow Gold 30.3gm Pocket Watch Chain W/ Fancy Locket FobAntique Gold Filled Pocket Watch Chain Slide Seed Pearl Victorian 1800s VintageStunning Vintage Estate Gold Tone Watermelon Heliotrope Cluster Brooch!! 5522dVintage Antique Art Deco 1930's Red Gold Venetian Satin Glass Bead Long NecklaceAntique Pocket Watch Chain Fob Carved Trojan Warrior Cameo Gold Filled VictorianAntique Victorian 1890s Gold Twisted Chain Rope Necklace 50" Long Vintage OldGorgeous Antique Victorian Embossed Gold Filled Etched Double Red Stone Bracelet