What is the difference between Gold Filled vs Gold Plated?
This is something I think we can all agree on - gold is a beautiful metal.
Solid gold, gold filled and gold plated can all make beautiful looking jewelry.
But here's the deal:
Gold plated is far different from gold filled, and gold filled is far different than solid gold.
That is what we are going to dive into here in this article. We are going to cover the differences in the three most common ways to make gold jewelry.
When searching for that perfect piece of jewelry it is important to know whether or not you are getting your money's worth. Knowing certain industry terms can be the difference between getting a fake diamond and real one or jewelry with a very thin layer of gold rather than the solid gold you were hoping for.
Most of us have bought a piece of jewelry at one time or another either for ourselves or purchased for a birthday or anniversary gift. According to Statista.com over 30 million people purchased jewelry in 2017. That is a lot of jewelry being bought and sold.
Here's the thing:
Unfortunately, with an industry as large as jewelry, there are going to be some people trying to make easy money by either selling cheap jewelry or making their jewelry seem high quality, when in fact it is almost worthless. This is one of the reasons is it important to know the difference between gold filled vs gold plated jewelry.
We'll start with the least quality first: gold plated.
What is Gold Plated Jewelry?
Gold plating is the cheapest and lowest quality type of gold jewelry you can buy. The reason for this is because the actual layer of gold is very thin and often times brittle. Due to how thin the layer is, the plating can crack and break off. If you are looking for a piece of jewelry that you will wear often I would recommend staying away from plating as it will not last very long. If worn often, do not expect it to last even a year.
The gold plating process is fairly simple and quick. In gold plating, a base metal is used, like brass or copper. Once the base metal is cleaned and rinsed, a layer of nickel is used to bond the base metal and the gold plating. The actual amount of gold on the piece comes out to 0.05% or less of the total piece.
Should you buy gold plated jewelry?
This question really does come down to preference and when you will be wearing the jewelry. Gold plated jewelry does have its place. Gold plated jewelry, when done right can look very nice. This means you can get a beautiful looking, and sometimes custom, piece of jewelry. If you are in the market for a new piece of jewelry but don't have a lot to spend then plating may be the best option. Gold plated jewelry should be handled with care as it often times does not last as long as other options. We recommend not wearing the jewelry in the shower or swimming pool or during any heavy activity. Limiting how and when you wear your plated jewelry will help extend the life of it.
Gold plated jewelry can run anywhere from $5 to about $50 on the high end. Rose gold plated will sometimes be just a bit more expensive than gold plated.
Gold filled jewelry is certainly a far step up from gold plated. Many times it is nice to have the gold look without having to pay the very high price of solid gold. Gold filled pieces come out very nice, they are durable and high quality. The gold layer is nice and thick and does not (very easily or often) rub off or flake off. Gold filled jewelry is actually regulated by the government. It is required that the gold layer make up at least 5% of the total weight of the piece. Remember, gold plating is only 0.05%. The base metal for gold filled jewelry can be brass, copper or silver. The gold layer on the gold filled pieces is 10k or higher.
Gold filled jewelry is a bit more difficult to make than plated. The reason is because unlike plated, gold filled pieces have to be sandwiched between two layers of gold. The process is much harder and more expensive than plating jewelry. The down side of this is that it is less flexible in terms of what can be made. Custom shapes or designs for gold filled are harder to make.
Gold filled jewelry can run anywhere from $30 up to $100 depending on the size and customization of the jewelry. If you can find a gold filled piece of jewelry for around the same price as plated, it is certainly recommended to go with gold filled, even if it means dishing out a few extra bucks.
Solid gold is the most expensive type of gold jewelry you can buy. Solid and pure gold is 24k but 24k is much too soft to hold its shape and be worn as jewelry. Most solid gold jewelry pieces are made with a percentage of gold mixed with an alloy to give it strength. That is where the karat (or spelled carat internationally) comes in. The karat is the unit of measurement for how fine the gold is. The higher the number the more pure the gold is. For example, a 10k piece of jewelry has a 10/24 ratio of gold or 41.66% gold. 14k gold is 14/24 which comes out to 58.33% gold. The highest the karat the more expensive the piece will be. The solid gold we carry is 14k gold.
Solid gold can run anywhere from $150 to $1000+. The price variation with gold really has to do with the amount of gold in the piece. As we talked about above, how much percentage of gold it is. The other major factor is obvious, a larger piece of jewelry will cost more than a smaller piece.
- January 18, 2018
- Jared R