Keum-Boo: Add the Value & Richness of Gold to Your Jewelry Designs in 4 Easy Steps

How would you like an easy, affordable way to add luxurious gold to your silver jewelry designs, creating even more value and beauty without breaking the bank on tools or supplies? Keum-boo is just that, and other than the gold foil–which is surprisingly affordable considering, because, you know, gold–keum-boo uses tools that you likely already have in your studio.

master the easy keum-boo metalsmithing technique

I was kind of amazed to learn that jewelry makers could do keum-boo at home. I had no idea until Joe Korth’s keum-boo video came out and I saw that it’s not only doable by any metalsmith with average experience, but it’s so easy! What a great way to stretch your jewelry supply budget and add interesting accents of rich high-karat gold to your jewelry designs. Even that tiny bit of gold makes a big visual impact and increases the value (real and perceived) of your jewelry.

gold-highlighted keum-boo earrings by Joe Korth

What Is Keum-boo?

Keum-boo is the ancient Korean technique of applying very thin sheets of pure 24-karat gold to silver. As the technique expanded to Japan, China, and throughout the West, the under-metal options used in keum-boo expanded also, to include steel, iron, copper, white gold and other colored gold alloys, lesser-karat gold, platinum, and other metals–even aluminum, because keum-boo requires no flame and little heat. It doesn’t get much more affordable than that!

Why Use Keum-boo for Metal Jewelry Designs?

I don’t know about you, but the cost of silver has been so high in recent years, I haven’t even bothered paying attention to the price of gold. But keum-boo uses so little gold (in gold foil form), you can get a lot of bang for your buck. It’s a truly affordable, impactful way to have the look of rich warm gold in your jewelry designs.

add gold to metal jewelry easily with keum-boo

By laying incredibly thin sheets of gold foil onto silver and other metals, you can create eye-catching contrast between the white or rose and gold metals and especially between gold and darkened silver. It’s an easy, chemical-free form of gold plating that creates a lot of gold surface area on top of less costly metals. Laying gold over textured metal really helps highlight the texture, too.

Soldering gold is different–you need different materials, different techniques–not to mention the fact that you’re working with a really expensive material, should something go wrong. Keum-boo allows you to have the look of pure gold without any intimidating and potentially very costly processes. No torch required!

learn to make keum-boo earrings

How to Create Keum-boo in 4 Easy Steps

Keum-boo sounds mysterious and complicated, like a metalsmithing technique that only true masters can do–but for silver, it’s really as simple as these four steps.

  1. Depletion gild the sterling silver.
  2. Heat the silver with a low-heat source like a hot plate or mug warmer.
  3. Place thin gold foil on the hot metal.
  4. Secure the foil with a polished steel or agate burnisher.

how to place gold folk on metal jewelry

See how easy that can be? I’m itching to try it now and I bet you are, too. All of the detailed steps and helpful hints are available in Joe Korth’s five-star-rated video, Keum-Boo Techniques: Add Gold Foil to Silver Jewelry. When’s the last time you learned about a really artistic metalsmithing or jewelry-making technique that you could do with tools you already have? You can do this ancient art in your own home with a few basic tools–while you create eye-catching contrast, highlight texture, and add value with the richness of pure gold.

Learn more and get a behind-the-scenes rundown of Joe’s video.


Master the ancient art of keum-boo with these resources!

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