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Jewelry, Gems, & Minerals/is an acrylic/plastic piece electroplated in gold considered a jewel?

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Question
Dear Thomas,
Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge about jewels with us, your work is highly appreciated.

I have not been able to find any information about this in the internet so I decided to ask you.

I know there are many acrylic pieces electroplated in silver which are sold, hallmarked and treated as “jewels”, this is legal and totally marketable. What I would like to know is if this same process of electroplating an acrylic piece in gold instead of silver is also legal and marketable, or if there is a special legislation for gold jewels stating that they cannot contain any non-metal material. I have found info about gold-filled items, but these are always on a metal base and with a specific content of gold(5%). Is a plastic/acrylic base with gold plating legal, marketable, and would it get an official lab hallmark?

Thanks in advance!

Answer
Dear Ana,

This reply was delayed because the allexperts site did not inform me of pending questions prior to today, September 10, several days late in delivery. I have asked that the situation of late question delivery to the experts be rectified but have not yet received a response.  I apologize for the tardiness of this reply to you.

To your question:  Ana, regulations for definitions of types of use of precious metals vary from country to country. I speak from a point of view of the National Gold and Silver Marking Act as used in the United States. In general, electroplated items whether over plastics or base metals are considered to be costume jewelry.  The item may carry a designation for quality of electroplate but is not considered fine jewelry.  Legislation is concerned with the quality and quantity of precious metal of an item and not with any additional items, even if valuable. For instance, gemstones are part of a jewelry item and figure directly into the value of the item however those have nothing to do with the proper identification of precious metals making up the jewelry item. Strangely, if the plastic core was removed you are left with a hollow form of precious metal, an electroformed piece of jewelry which does require a proper hallmark of metal quality.  The problem with plated plastics is a clear definition of how much(by weight)of the item is precious metal and of what quality. I have not seen it defined in regulations but reasonably expect a precious metal item with filled interior should carry a metal quality mark and a designation of an acrylic core. The terms used in defining electroplated items would apply in my opinion.  As long as the core contributed to the weight of the item, some type of recognition of that is needed, whether gold or another precious metal made up the exterior.  If hollow, the entire item would be precious metal and would be hallmarked accordingly.

Ana, I believe the best way to find the most accurate answer to your question is to ask one of the assay offices how they handle such items. This is a link to the British assay office in Birmingham, a place British jewelry items are tested and provided hallmarking. There is a link to contact the office at the top of the web page:
http://www.theassayoffice.co.uk/date_letters.html


In general, hallmarking has to do with clear identification of precious metals in a manufactured item of jewelry, tableware, etc. An unseen constituent of a jewelry item such as plastics which contribute to the weight of the item must be identified to avoid a mistaken or deceitful interpretation of the make-up of the item.  Art objects may contain plastics, metals and other materials and marking of metal quality would not appear necessary unless that is a prime factor in determining the value of the item.

I do hope this reply helps somewhat.  God Bless and Peace.  Thomas.

Jewelry, Gems, & Minerals

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Thomas

Expertise

Have a question about jewelry repair or working with precious metal jewelry and gemstones? For many years up to December 31, 2010, I was a working professional bench jeweler, involved everyday with setting stones in mountings, designing and making jewelry, repairing and limited custom manufacture. If you work with jewelry as a hobby or as a profession, I might be able to help. I deal with the retail business, not mass production. Ask privately if you wish. See the box for that: It keeps your question between us. Please DO NOT ask MAKER'S MARKS, but metal quality marks are fine to ask. Please DO NOT ask diamond prices. See a gemologist for that.

Experience

I have extensive experience in design, service and making of jewelry. I deal mostly with precious metals and gemstones but work with many materials as needed and usable to create an artistic design. My experience also includes freelance photography and photographer of jewelry and similar items for a former employer and individuals. Design of custom items requires reading the desires of the client and being clear on what can be done within that framework...then fulfilling the transition of idea to reality. Effective communications is essential in a working designer/producer and customer relationship.

Education/Credentials
Education is English/Physics! Started in human resources, to advertising, to jewelry...wow, what a road. I have had formal training in jewelry work and many shared experiences with top grade jewelers. We just never know were we will go or be. Follow your best, your dreams, with some discretion! Don't let the work tear up your body along the way as it has mine.

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