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Keum-Boo Jewelry: An Introductory Guide

May 17, 2022 5 min read

woman wearing Keum-boo earrings

Keum-Boo jewelry is growing in popularity, especially with artisan and handmade jewelry lovers. This style of jewelry can add depth and interest to any collection due to the unique way it is made; it’s like you’re wearing an original work of art. Read on to learn more about the Keum-Boo technique, see examples of this beautiful style of jewelry, and learn how to care for these pieces so they last a lifetime.

The Keum-Boo Technique

Originating in Korea, the Keum-Boo technique is also known as Geumbu,Kum-Boo, or Kum-bu. The technique involves applying thin sheets of gold foil to silver or other metals. The Keum-Boo technique can also be used to apply gold foil to platinum, iron, copper, white gold, and other similar metals, though sterling silver is most commonly used.

To make Keum-Boo jewelry, the silver piece is first heated repeatedly to bring a layer of fine silver to the surface, a process known as depleting. Then, a thin layer of gold foil is heated and applied with high pressure to the silver surface. Because the atomic structures of the two metals are so similar, a permanent diffusion bond occurs, and the final result is a beautiful and unique piece of partially gilded silver. 

The Difference Between Keum-Boo and Gold Vermeil

The Keum-Boo technique may sound familiar to gold vermeil or gold plated jewelry. The concepts are similar in many ways, though they differ in the way they are made and the look of the overall finished product.

Both Keum-Boo jewelry andgold vermeil jewelry use sterling silver as a base material. However, instead of using heat to bond the gold and silver together, gold vermeil jewelry is created by submerging the silver piece into a water bath filled with gold particles and then running an electric current through the water. The current bonds the gold and silver together, thus creating gold vermeil jewelry.

Gold vermeil was created hundreds of years ago as a way to make gold jewelry more accessible and affordable for the common people, though now it’s its own recognized jewelry technique. Keum-Boo, on the other hand, is not intended to completely cover the silver underneath but rather create a beautiful gold effect that enhances the silver jewelry to produce a unique piece.

Examples of Keum-Boo Jewelry

Keum-Boo is an incredibly versatile technique, which means you could have a variety of pieces all in this unique style. The beautiful gold foil makes any silver jewelry design elegant and stunning.

Keum-Boo Rings

A Keum-Boo ring can be a very special piece for the wearer because each piece is an original work of art. Gifting your loved one a handmade Keum-Boo ring means giving them something one-of-a-kind. Keum-Boo rings can even be worn as non-traditional wedding bands., It may sound like a simple concept, however, the combination of sterling silver and artful gold foil placement makes Keum-Boo rings unique, special pieces that can last a lifetime.

Keum-Boo Earrings

Keum-Boo earrings

For lovers of asymmetrical earring designs, the Keum-Boo style is for you. EachKeum-Boo earring bears its own unique application of gold foil. If applied to oxidized silver, the high contrast between the gold foil and dark silver creates a striking piece that catches the eye and elevates any look. The design is also simple enough that it can be worn daily for an everyday look.

Keum-Boo Necklaces

keum-boo necklace

Keum-Boo necklaces are bold pieces that create a stunning statement with any look. No matter what outfit you wear, a Keum-Boo necklace draws the eye and becomes a stunning centerpiece. Pair with matching earrings or wear it alone–a Keum-Boo necklace is a powerhouse piece that will quickly become your go-to jewelry.

Caring for Keum-Boo Jewelry

Taking care of Keum-Boo jewelry is very similar to the process of caring for your regularsterling silver jewelry. A regular care and cleaning routine ensure that your Keum-Boo jewelry will last a lifetime.

Making Keum-Boo Jewelry Last

In order to prolong the life of your unique Keum-Boo jewelry, there are a few key techniques to practice. 

  1. Wear your Keum-Boo pieces regularly.That’s right, wearing your jewelry regularly is actually a very good thing! The natural oils in your skin keep the sterling silver shiny and slow the process of tarnishing. 
  2. Remove your Keum-Boo jewelry during cleaning, showering, or swimming.Household cleaners may contain chemicals or essential oils that are corrosive to your jewelry. Additionally, perspiration, chlorine, and even rubber can all accelerate the tarnishing process. It’s best to put away your Keum-Boo jewelry before starting your Spring cleaning or hitting the pool.
  3. Put on your Keum-Boo jewelry last.To prevent tarnishing or damaging your jewelry with hairspray, perfume, or lotion, wait until the very last minute to put on your Keum-Boo jewelry (or any piece of jewelry for that matter). Jewelry should be the last thing you put on and the first thing taken off.

Cleaning Tips for Keum-Boo Jewelry

Even with the best care, Keum-Boo jewelry should be cleaned fairly regularly to keep it looking its best. Fortunately, cleaning Keum-Boo jewelry is simple.

Always start with mild soap, water, and a soft, microfiber rag. Soap and water are effective enough to remove dirt while still being gentle on your jewelry. If you need a bit more cleaning power, try making a paste with baking soda and water. You can use a soft toothbrush to scrub if needed. Be mindful of scrubbing oxidized silver too much, as this will remove the blackened effect that makes your jewelry so stunning. 

To remove heavier tarnish on sterling silver, baking soda and white vinegar will do the trick. Place your Keum-Boo jewelry in a solution of ½ cup of white vinegar and two tablespoons of baking soda. Let your jewelry soak for two to three hours, then rinse and pat dry. Never put away your jewelry while it’s still wet. Avoid this cleaning step with oxidized silver, as this will remove the blackened treatment.

Avoid using silver cleaner or silver polish on your Keum-Boo jewelry. Although this will benefit the sterling silver, it may damage the gold foil elements.

Learn more:How to Clean Jewelry: 6 Jewelry Cleaning Tips

Make a Statement with Keum-Boo Jewelry

The Keum-Boo jewelry has a long history and for good reason. This technique creates beautiful, wearable works of art that will elevate any jewelry collection. For those looking for something unique, Keum-Boo jewelry is a perfect choice.Shop our collection of Keum-Boo jewelry to find your new favorite pierce.


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