Jewelry, Mass Production and why Gold-Filled is not mainstream

I get the question “why did you start your business” ALL THE TIME. And that’s great, because it is so important!

I originally started my business because I wanted nice and trendy jewelry, but I didn’t feel like I could afford the products I wanted. To be perfectly honest, in hindsight, I know that it wasn’t that I couldn’t afford it, money-wise. I couldn’t afford it mentally. I knew that the pieces I wanted did not cost nearly as much to make as they were priced, labour and overhead included. I was paying for the label, and I wasn’t into that. So, I started making the pieces myself – that was a brand I could stand behind.

When I started, I was using a lot of gold-plated components that I could find off of Esty. I liked what I was making, and my friends liked it to. So I started making more and started selling them at craft shows and markets. A business was born.

Since that time, I have learned A LOT. The biggest learning has come in understanding the different qualities of metals and components for my pieces. I still want to honour that investment that people are making in themselves and with their hard earned money. Which is why the majority of my products are made with American standard 14k Gold Filled and other demi-fine materials.

Gold Filled is regulated in the United States. Each piece that is marked as gold filled must have at least 5% of its total weight in genuine gold, and it must be mechanically bonded to the base metal, which is usually jewelers brass. Anything else, is not gold filled.

If it says 18k over stainless steel. Not gold-filled. If it says gold-plated over brass. Not gold-filled. Gold-plated sterling silver. Not gold-filled. (It might not even qualify as vermeil either! That’s regulated too.) Gold-filled made in China. NOT gold-filled; simply because it is not regulated and you cannot guarantee the amount of gold or process to bond the gold.    

I know that my prices are not competitive with what is available en masse through Etsy and even via Instagram marketing. But they are still super affordable when you understand their quality and what they can be compared to – which is solid gold. It is even more affordable than some of the gold-plated sterling silver pieces you will find in larger jewelry stores.  

For example:

A 10k gold and freshwater pearl necklace at People’s Jewellers is $329.00. (Albeit, it is 10k gold, but again, if you know anything about gold, you know that the lower the karat, the more alloy that is incorporated into the metal mixture. It’s actually more alloy than gold…) I have a similar necklace – The Aphrodite Pearl Necklace – which is made of 14k gold-filled chain and freshwater pearls. It’s $65.00.

Another example, from People’s. They have a 1.0mm Beaded Chain Bracelet, with Rose Gold plated sterling silver (it’s not even vermeil) listed at $89.00. That’s pretty cheap for People’s. I make a similar bracelet, with larger beads in Rose Gold-Filled. I priced it at $55.00.

I might be underpricing my products, but when I factor in materials, labour, and packaging costs, AND I look at my competitors, the price is pretty standard. It is a fraction of the cost of what is sold in jewelry stores and it holds up just as well, if not better.

Gold-Filled, when taken care of to protect against scratches and extreme situations, will last you well over 10 years, usually forever. These are hand-me-down pieces to your great-grandchildren. It is hypoallergenic, waterproof and tarnish resistant. Just like solid gold.

Why are prices so much lower? Well – you’re not paying for a big brand to make it.

It’s just me, myself and I handcrafting each piece and getting it into your hands.

Gold-filled is also not as malleable as sterling silver or jeweler’s brass, so you cannot cast it into any form. There are limitations with gold filled that restrict it to chains, components and very simple charms. Large manufacturing doesn’t have time to waste on handcrafting and assembling at the factory level. Plus, gold-filled raw costs are actually double or triple gold-plated and sterling silver pieces. It just doesn’t make sense for them.

It's a blessing and a curse. I am left with some seriously amazing components that make my jewelry extraordinary, but I must compete with big brands who price their pieces so low (a reflection of the materials and labour force) or so high that it limits who can purchase them.

At the end of the day, it’s all a journey. I am so proud of what I make and I like to spend time shouting it from the rooftops. If you haven’t checked out my pieces yet – I invite you do so online and in stores around Ontario.


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