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Gold Filled vs Gold Plated Jewelry

The Real Difference Between Gold Filled and Gold Plated Jewelry


Gold Filled or Gold Plated Jewelry?

If you have begun to search for your next piece of gold jewelry, you have likely encountered the terms gold filled and gold plated. Here are the differences between gold filled vs gold plated jewelry and how their properties apply to your next jewelry purchase.

What is Gold Filled?

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Contrary to its name, gold filled is not actually filled with gold. This material is made by taking a metal layer (the base metal) and sandwiching it between two layers of gold. Because this process is complicated, there is a limit on the flexibility and variety of shapes that can be made.

Gold filled jewelry is legally required to be 5% solid gold. This material has more gold than gold plated jewelry.

What is Gold Plated?

Gold plating is produced by an easier process. It takes a base metal, gives it an electric charge and binds it to a layer of gold. The result is a thin layer of gold on top of the base metal. This simple process allows for more intricate shapes and a larger range of customization.

Gold plated jewelry is usually 0.05% gold. It is not regulated and therefore you can find both low and high quality pieces. Because it uses less actual gold, gold plated jewelry costs less than gold filled jewelry.

Do They Look Different?

No, both have a thick enough layer of gold to prevent the underlying metal from showing through.

Value of Each

Unfortunately, neither gold filled nor gold plated have much value when compared to solid gold. Even though gold filled is 5% gold, it has low resale value. Because this material has a layer of gold sitting atop another metal it means gold filled items cannot be melted down and poured/cast into new items. Melting the material would melt both the base metal and the gold into nothing more than a goopy mess. That being said, gold filled is still more expensive than gold plated.

Which is Stronger?

Gold is a naturally soft metal. Therefore gold filled, which has a higher percentage of gold, is actually softer. The strength of your jewelry isn’t super relevant unless you plan to use it to hoist heavy objects but technically speaking, gold plated jewelry is stronger. 

Tarnishing

Gold filled jewelry rarely tarnishes and gold plated jewelry only tarnishes after the plating has worn down.

Which Lasts Longer?

The thicker layer of gold in gold filled jewelry makes it last longer overall and especially if worn daily. The thicker gold layer does not break down quickly, thus maintaining its gold coloring and preventing tarnish longer. 

But don’t dismiss gold plating just yet.

Consider this: bracelets. How many times do you bump or clank your bracelet on counter tops? Your desk? Restaurant tables? The answer is probably “frequently”. Now, consider a necklace. How often do you clank your necklace on the kitchen counter? Your desk? A restaurant table?

My point is, when buying jewelry it’s helpful to take into consideration the durability REQUIREMENTS for each piece. Do you plan to wear it every day? Will you wear it swimming or to the gym? Do you need a necklace that can be smacked on the ground repeatedly? Maybe (I don’t know your life). If so, spring for something gold filled. However, if you are moderately careful with your necklaces, gold plating should be fine.

When Paired with Gemstones

Running a shop that specializes in gemstone jewelry, I think there are a few important points to note on this topic. The majority of gemstones require special care. They don’t tolerate moisture or heat and they can be scratched easily. Only certain stones tolerate daily wear well (examples quartz and agate). 

If you plan to purchase jewelry with gemstones beware that it will take a little know-how to keep them in good shape. Conveniently, these are the same requirements that it takes to keep gold plating in good shape. For that reason, we sell most of our stones with gold plated metals; not because it’s low quality but because if you are taking care of the stones you are taking care of the metal too. It helps keep things affordable =).

Which is Better?

Everything has pros and cons, but now that you know the differences between gold filled and gold plated, let’s decide which is right for YOU.

If you are searching for high quality, heirloom jewelry, solid gold is the way to go. This is because it has the highest value and will last the longest. These items will also come with the highest price tags.

If you’re looking for a piece you can wear all day, every day, then gold filled jewelry would be the way to go. Swimming, sweating at the gym and sun tanning will still wear down the gold eventually but it will last longer than gold plating. These items come with a medium sized price tag.

If your goal is owning something nice that can be worn frequently but not every day, then gold plating is the way to go. It is also my recommendation when paired with unique, less common gemstones. Gold plated items can stay looking nice if kept well and can help keep the price point of gold jewelry down. 

So now that you are a gold-knowledge ninja, what are you going to buy!? 



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Meet the Author

Hi there! My name is Karina. I am the creator behind the handmade jewelry website, Kcrafts.net. It’s my goal that my customers feel comfortable and project confidence everyday! I accomplish that by sharing knowledge about gemstones and jewelry (mixed with a dash of motivation and fashion inspiration!).  Follow Kcrafts on social media or check out the shop to see what it’s all about.


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The Real Difference Between Gold Filled and Gold Plated Jewelry Gold Filled or Gold Plated Jewelry? If you have begun to search for your next piece of gold jewelry, you
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