Are you looking at gold jewelry online? Pay attention to the description; it will likely say “gold-filled” or “gold-plated.” Both are very different manufacturing methods. Let’s unpack what you need to know about them before charging your card.
What’s The Difference Between Gold-Filled vs. Gold-Plated Jewelry?
The main difference between the two is gold-plated jewelry takes a base metal like copper or brass and electroplates it with gold on the exterior. Gold-filled jewelry pieces have two to three layers of gold mixed with other base metals. Let’s take a deeper dive into each process.
Gold Plated Jewelry
Gold-plated jewelry is cheaper than solid gold or gold-filled pieces. While the price is attractive, the plating process means it tarnishes easily, and the coating doesn’t last long before wearing away. Solid gold doesn’t usually tarnish, but plated pieces see oxidation in the base metal, causing a chemical reaction.
The jewelry turns a green hue, reducing the visual aesthetic of the piece. Gold-plated jewelry is available, with gold layers being a minimum of 0.5 microns thick. The thinker the electroplated layer, the longer it will last.
- A cheap option for gold-looking jewelry.
- Lightweight and available in many designs.
- Tarnishes and turns skin green.
- Low-quality, thin, plated pieces won’t last long.
This jewelry features the mechanical bonding of gold to base metals like brass or sterling silver. Some product descriptions may refer to gold-filled as “rolled gold” or “gold bonded.” The gold layer is reasonably thick and features a permanent bond under intense pressure and high heat.
As a result, there’s no peeling or flaking like with gold-plated pieces. With the right care and maintenance, filled jewelry can last as long as solid gold. However, gold-filled jewelry can cost almost as much as solid gold, depending on the piece.
- Very durable and as long-lasting as solid gold jewelry.
- Slightly more affordable than solid gold.
- Won’t tarnish, crack or peel like plated jewelry.
- They are harder to find at jewelers than plated pieces.
- Somewhat expensive, only a little saving off solid gold options.
- Requires a costly production process.
Gold-Filled vs. Gold-Plated Jewelry – FAQ
Q: Will gold-filled jewelry develop tarnish, crack, or peel?
A: Gold-filled jewelry retains its appearance and quality for a long time. Most pieces will last 30 years or longer with the right care and maintenance. However, anything but solid gold tarnishes over time, and even solid gold can oxidize, causing small red blemishes. This oxidizing action is particularly common with 24-karat pieces and less common with 18k and 22k jewelry.
Owners should maintain their jewelry to keep it in pristine condition. Clean it using a specialized jeweler cleaning solution, and wipe it down properly with a microfiber polishing cloth after rinsing. Many jewelry professionals suggest gold-filled jewelry easily tarnishes if it contains higher concentrations of base metals like brass, copper, or silver. However, gold is typically a non-reactive metal.
Q: Can I shower while wearing gold-filled jewelry?
A: Yes. You can wear your gold-filled jewelry when showering without damaging it. However, we recommend against wearing gold-plated jewelry when showering. Ideally, you don’t want to shower wearing any jewelry since experts suggest it accelerates the tarnishing process.
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