The wonderful world of jewelry is packed with confusing lingo that can make a simple decision feel heavy. Don’t fret, friends! Our professionals are here to dissect two commonly confused terms – this month on the Heart to Heart Blog we’re talking gold filled vs gold plated.
It’s best to wholly grasp what solid gold is to better understand it’s filled and plated counterparts. Solid gold is expressed in karats, and in its purest form as 24 karats. Naturally, gold is soft and malleable, which frequently leads to it being mixed with other metals in a process called alloying. This process increases its durability. Solid gold will not fade nor tarnish. Despite this tempting trait, solid gold jewelry is hardly the right pick for buyers due to its high price point and fragile durability.
Gold filled jewelry consists of a solid layer of gold mechanically bonded to a base of stainless steel, copper or brass. The filling process requires a massive amount of simultaneous heat and pressure, resulting in a durable piece of jewelry at the fraction of a solid gold price. The layer of gold is typically 14K or 12K, and should make up more than 5% of the piece’s overall weight. While gold filled jewelry can tarnish, if properly cared for it can last the wearer decades without irritation or corrosion. To ensure your gold filled jewelry’s longevity, we recommend occasional professional cleaning and daily wipe downs to remove any lingering oils or makeup that may result in discoloration or deterioration over time. Gold filled jewelry allows you the feeling of luxe without the price tag of solid gold.
Gold plated jewelry contains significantly less gold than gold filled jewelry – about 100x less, actually. It’s created by passing an electrical current through a water and ‘metal salt’ solution to negatively charge the base metal. These negatively charged metals then attract positively charged gold ions, forming a thin layer of gold around the entire piece. Because the coating is especially thin, it doesn’t take much for the gold layer to rub off or tarnish. And while it is substantially cheaper to purchase plated over filled, everyday wear or long exposure to any kind of liquid will quickly compromise the quality. We do not recommend buying gold plated if you have sensitive skin.
We say it often here at Heart to Heart, knowledge is power. The more you know, the better informed and prepared you are to make a decision. There are pros and cons to buying either gold filled or plated. We respect whichever way you choose to go, and vow to help keep your pieces looking their best. If you are in any need of custom jewelry, jewelry cleaning or repair please don’t’ hesitate to contact our professionals. We look forward to working with you!