As you know from reading this blog, German Silver has no silver in it. (If you missed that post, read more about it in Not All Silver is Created Equal.)
Similarly, depending on who is using the term, “Jeweler’s Gold” might have a lot of gold in it or no gold at all !!
According to professional metallurgists and Webster’s Dictionary:
“Jeweler’s Gold” is a gold alloy made of 3 parts Gold + 1 part Copper.
I recently saw a large “Jeweler’s Gold Native American Concho Belt” for sale on the internet for less than $180. What??!! Impossible !!! At $1325.00 per ounce for gold, there would be no way there was that much gold in this big heavy belt !!!
So when someone borrows the term “Jeweler’s Gold” to loosely describe a gold colored alloy that has NO gold in it at all, as far as I am concerned that’s a big NO NO. It just misleads and confuses buyers. Some people say “in jeweler’s circles” it is OK. But it is not OK when a buyer thinks they are getting gold and in reality, they are getting an alloy that contains NO gold.
Such an alloy, wrongly called Jeweler’s Gold, would be more correctly called Red Brass or Jeweler’s Brass or by one of the commercial names such as NuGold.
NUGOLD sells for less than $30 for a 12″ x 12″ sheet or 200 feet of wire. The same material in gold would cost upwards of $2000.
It is not uncommon for a merchant to advertise an item of jewelry as
“Jewelers Gold (Red Brass)”
as if they were the same. They ARE NOT.
That would be akin to advertising a pair of boots like this
or a GoldTone chain and pendant as Gold.
See what I mean?
Jeweler’s Gold and Red Brass are not the same, they are not synonymous…….using the two terms together is confusing at the least and misleading or downright dishonest. Red Brass is NOT Jewelers Gold – far from it.
Now I’m not saying that Red Brass or NuGold don’t have a place in jewelry making, Native American or otherwise. But one should call a spade a spade.
Is it Jeweler’s Gold Or Red Brass?
As previously state, Jeweler’s Gold is 3 parts gold to one part copper.
The recipes for Red Brass or NuGold vary but here are three.
NuGold is 85% copper and 15% zinc.
Red Brass = 3 parts Copper + one part Zinc + one part Block Tin.
IT IS SAID………that if these metals are pure and melted per the prescribed method, the best jeweler could not tell the difference between it and pure gold without doing an analysis.
Another recipe for Red Brass is similar but contains some lead as well.
85% Copper + 5% Tin + 5% Lead + 5% Zinc.
Now some of you might want to stay away from alloys that contain lead, zinc or tin…..if so you would like to know if what you are buying is really Jewelers Gold or if it is the gold colored alloy Red Brass, wouldn’t you?
Since Jeweler’s Gold costs many time that of Red Brass, from a value standpoint, you would want to know if you are indeed buying a gold alloy or a golden colored alloy.
The moral of the story? If you want to know what you are buying and you are not sure, ask.
So I did just that.
I wrote a number of eBay sellers who were advertising their Native American items items as made of Jewelers Gold. (It was obvious from the photos and pricing that they were all made from Red Brass.)
One listed it as “Jewelers Gold”.
Another listed it as “Jewelers Gold (Red Brass).”
Yet another listed it as “Jewelers Gold – 3 parts gold, 1 part copper.”
I also wrote several webstores that advertise their Native American items as made of Jewelers Gold.
“…..all hand made from Jeweler’s Gold, it is also known as Red Brass.”
The others just list the items as made of Jeweler’s Gold.
I got a variety of replies to my standard query:
“Is this item Jeweler’s Gold or Red Brass? As far as I know, Jeweler’s Gold is 3 parts gold to 1 part copper. Would you let me know what metals this contains?”
Here are some of the replies:
“Jeweler’s Gold and Red Brass are the same.” (no change in the listing)
“In jeweler’s circles, Jeweler’s Gold is used for Red Brass.” (no change in the listing)
“Oh my god, I’ll have to check and make changes !” (a change was made in the listing from “Jeweler’s Gold – 3 parts gold and 1 part copper” to “Jeweler’s Gold (aka Red Brass) )”
“There is a thin layer of gold on it.” (no change in listing)
As far as I am concerned, none of the sellers stepped up to the plate and told it like it is.
Be aware. Ask.