History of Solid Gold Frames
We are constantly asked about our antique gold glasses: Are they solid gold glasses? Are they gold filled or gold filled? Do they have a hallmark? What material they are made of? Are they solid gold, gold filled, or just gold colored? A little history is due.
Today it would seem inconceivable to manufacture eyeglasses out of real gold. There are some luxury brands selling solid gold glasses for $4k, $10k or more. Dating back to the mid 1800s eyeglass frames for common people were made using solid gold. Gold was not nearly as expensive and is a solid material to use.
10k Gold Glasses Frames
The most common type of gold used for antique glasses was 10k gold. Generally found with frames in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The hallmark for 10k gold glasses is a circle with a line going through it’s center. This hallmark is often found under the nose bridge and / or on the temples near the screws. These frames were made before eyeglasses were gender specific so they made 10k glasses for men and women.
14k Gold Glasses Frames
The second to most common material for vintage eyeglass frames was 14k solid gold glasses. The hallmark for 14k gold glasses frames was generally just the letters 14K, marked either under the bridge, under eyeglass temple near the front, or sometimes even on the outside of the temples. These frames were made before eyeglasses were gender specific so they made these 14k solid eyeglass frames for men and women.
18k gold glasses frames
18k gold was not generally used in antique and vintage frames. It is a new invention, started of late by companies such as Lindberg, Cartier, Oliver Peoples, and the likes. These 18k gold glasses are priced in the thousands – tens of thousands of dollars per pair. Since the 1930s glasses are often gender specific so their are different eyeglass and sunglasses for men and women.
Gold Filled Glasses
The most common type of gold filled frames was 1/10 12k, meaning 1/10 of the metal is 12k gold.
Gold Filled is much better than gold plate, which quickly wears off and does not stand up well to the elements.
Gold-filled glasses are much closer in quality and durability to solid gold.
Gold filled frames are made by fusing a layer of 10 carat or more gold through a combination of heat and pressure to the surface of supporting base metal, then rolled to a given thickness. eyeglasses wire is formed by fusing a tube of solid gold to a round rod of base metal which is a close fit for the tube.
Hallmarks were most commonly found on the back of the bridge and on the frame sides<br>near the joints. Not all manufacturers marked their frames clearly, as some used codes that were are usually explained in the<br>manufacturer’s frame catalogues.
How Can I tell If My Glasses Are Gold?
The way tp tell if your eyeglass frames are solid gold or gold filled is to check the hallmark. Generally vintage frames are marked with a 1/10 12k, 12k, G.F. or some other hallmark. Note: There were frames that did not have the gold carat or content marked. If your frames are unmarked they are generally gold filled, though there were many solid gold frames that were unmarked as well.
At the end of the day most antique eyeglass frames were gold filled, not solid gold. Many rimless glasses were made of solid gold, though most were gold filled. Same can be said about oval eyeglass frames.
Some of our solid gold eyeglass frames: