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    

Rare Antique Victorian Art Nouveau Gold Gilt Silver Plate Chatelaine Ladys Art Deco 18kt White Gold .50ct Diamond & .30ct Sapphire Ring, Size 6.25Antique Victorian Gold Filled Banded Agate Onyx Swivel Locket Fob Charm PendantAntique Solid 14k Gold Carved Natural Angel Skin Coral Cameo Lavalier PendantVintage Victorian Revival Gold Washed Silver Bohemian Garnet Dangle EarringsVtg Chanel Signed Necklace Green Red Gripoix Glass Gold Tone Links - 34"Antique Victorian Solid 10k Gold Garnet Diamond Stag LocketRetro Vintage Mazer Gold Plate Aqua Sapphire Crystal Rhinestone Flower Pin Clip Vintage French Art Deco Silver & Gold Marcasite Flower Basket Dangle EarringsEstate Group Antique Victorian Edwardian Coral Mourning 9k Gold & Gf Jewelry + Qvc Signed Joan Rivers Goldtone Limited Edition Pave Orchid Brooch S264Antique Victorian Large Gold Fill Brass Repousse Picture Photo Locket PendantVintage Rare 40s Victorian Etruscan Gold Mesh Ram Head Glass Rhinestone BraceletBig Wide Antique Victorian Engraved Gold Filled Flower Bangle BraceletAntique Victorian Engraved Scroll Gold Filled Bangle BraceletAntique Victorian Gold Filled Tigers Eye Glass Cameo Locket Fob Charm PendantEstate Group 30 Antique Victorian Gold Filled & Other Pocket Watch Chains FobsBig Rare Antique Victorian Engraved Gold Filled Paste Stone Question Mark LocketPair! Ornate Round Antique Victorian Carved Shell Cameo Gold Filled Brooch YqzAntique Old Victorian Carved Lava Stone Cameo Lady High Relief Gold Pin BroochAntique Victorian Rose Gold Filled Paste Rhinestone Bangle BraceletValentino Haute Couture Egyptian Gold Coin Medallion Collar Necklace Earring SetQvc Joan Rivers Goldtone St. Petersburg Bow Pin T023Antique Victorian Gold Filled Book Chain Necklace For Locket Or Pendant Fob2 Gold Filled Vintage Bracelets #287Vintage Czech Art Deco Foiled Glass Bead Necklace On Rolled GoldAntique Victorian Ornately Engraved Floral Gold Filled Bangle BraceletAntique Victorian Engraved Gold Filled Paste Rhinestone LocketVintage Antique Hayward 12k Gold Filled Embossed Acorn Leaves LocketTraditional Victorian 9ct Rose Gold Tiger Claw Trophy PendantEstate Group Antique Victorian Edwardian Gold Filled & Other Jewelry Vintage Plain Gold Filled Bangle BraceletVintage Old Art Deco Czech Gold Amber Glass Crystal Flower Fringe Drop Necklace Antique Victorian Gold Filled Bookchain Necklace W/ Ornate Amethyst Pendant ~fabAntique Victorian Engraved Gold Filled M Initial Locket NecklaceAntique Edwardian Gold Filled Filigree Green Yellow Paste Stone Bangle Bracelet Vintage 14ct Gold Chain Necklace $3k Designer Sterling Silver Gold Vermeil Persian Turquoise Drop EarringsVintage Florenza Wide Victorian Gold Pearl Choker Necklace & Art Dangle EarringsYsl Yves St Laurent Necklace Goldtone Link Necklace Amethyst Glass StonesVintage Gold-tone Metal Watermelon Scallop Rhinestone Christmas Tree Pin BroochQvc Rare Joan Rivers Goldtone Denim Bee Pin S248Victorian Bliss Bros.10k Gold Filled, Crescent & Star Double Picture LocketVintage Selro Selini Gold Cameo Face Purple Rhinestone Lucite Necklace EarringsVintage Goldtone Amber, Topaz & Ab Rhinestone Demi ParureQvc Joan Rivers Goldtone Changeable 10 Color Pierced Earring Wardrobe T0611970 Charles Revson Aldo Cipullo Love Bracelet Bangle Gold ElectroplateQvc Joan Rivers Goldtone Green Simulated Malachite Look Of Precious Bee Pin T022Signed Crown Trifari Vintage Brooch Pin Flower Bouquet Rhinestone Gold Tone 3413Gorgeous Vtg.unsigned Boucher Peacock Brooch Sapphire,emerald Rhinestones,gold/tStunning Vintage Estate Gold Tone Signed Ciner Faux Pearl Brooch! 6410fQvc Joan Rivers Goldtone Green Briolette Cut Bracelet Collectors B377Qvc Joan Rivers Gorgeous Goldtone Hope Bee Pin Pendant K113Vintage Hamilton 14k Gold Watch - Mechanical Wind - Incredible Detail!Signed 1/20 12k Gf Vintage Gold Filled Cameo Bracelet Carved Hand Crafted! 6240Qvc Joan Rivers Goldtone Changeable 7-color Pendant With Necklace S235Filigree Chinese Jade Jadeite Sterling Silver Gold Vermeil Vintage BraceletVintage Set Brooch Pin Earring Glass Watermelon Rhinestone Aurora Gold Tn! 6296Gorgeous Antique Victorian Gold Filled & Diamond Locket PendantVintage Van Dell 1/20 12kt Yellow Gold Filled Scenic Cameo Bracelet 7.5" Long