Jewelry Manufacturing Terms - Explained

By I. Maher

If you have ever shopped for jewelry, you have likely encountered numerous seemingly foreign terms which describe the way particular pieces of jewelry are crafted. You have probably heard jewelry industry terms such as handmade, electroplate and gold filled, and wondered what these terms are actually supposed to be telling you. By understanding commonly used terms which describe the way jewelry is made, you will be a more educated jewelry consumer and able to make informed decisions when purchasing fine jewelry such as necklaces or eternity rings.
Below are explanations of some common terms that will give you insight into the construction of particular pieces of jewelry:

-Cast: Cast jewelry makes up a majority of the jewelry you will see for sale in stores and online. Casting is a widely used jewelry manufacturing process in which metal is poured or forced into a mold, called a die, making it assume the shape of the cavities of the mold. The metal then cools and hardens in the desired shape, at which point it is called casting.

-Die Struck: Denser and thus more resilient than cast jewelry, die struck jewelry is formed by compressing precious metals into shape by striking or stamping them using harder metal dies.
Requiring specialized equipment and more production time, die struck jewelry is more costly than cast jewelry.

-Handmade: Just as it sounds, jewelry marked “handmade” has been constructed entirely by hand without the aid of mechanical devices. All major components of handmade jewelry have been individually crafted by hand, and no machine manufactured parts may be incorporated into jewelry designated as “handmade.” Handmade jewelry can be relatively costly but is highly sought after due to its uniqueness.

-Gold electroplate: Jewelry carrying this description is composed of a non gold base metal coated with a layer of at least ten carat gold. In order to be classified as gold electroplate, the layer of gold must be applied to the base metal through an electrolytic process and measure at least 0.175 microns (about seven millionths of an inch) in thickness.

-Gold filled: Gold filled jewelry is also comprised of a base metal coated with at least ten carat gold, though the gold coating of gold filled jewelry is bonded to the base metal mechanically through the application of heat and pressure. Gold must comprise at least 5% (or 1/20th) of the weight of a piece in order to be classified as gold filled. You may also see gold filled jewelry referred to as “gold overlay” or “rolled gold plate.”

About the Author: Ian Maher is the CEO of Maliere, a leading provider of eternity rings, diamond rings, platinum rings and gold rings. For more information, please visit

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