The Difference Between Gold Gold Plated And Gold Filled Jewelry
If youre the type of person who appreciates vintage and antique jewelry, youve probably come across jewelry thats described as Gold, Gold Filled Gold Plated or one of a dozen other phrases with the word Gold in it. When shopping for vintage and antique jewelry, whether on eBay or in your local antique mall, its important to know the difference between these common phrases. Not all Gold is created equal.
In order to get a real understanding of all these terms, you have to first understand some basics about gold itself.
Gold is an elemental metal. This means that pure gold is made up of nothing but gold atoms. Other examples of elemental metals include copper iron and aluminum . In its natural form, gold is orangish-yellow in color , has a bright shine , is very soft and is very malleable .
Example of Elemental Gold In Its Natural Nugget Form
When people talk about the Price of Gold or the Spot Gold Price or Gold Bullion they are talking about pure elemental gold. Pure gold is so soft, however, that it is rarely ever used to make jewelry because it cannot hold up to daily use. For example, a pure gold ring would constantly lose its shape and any stones set in it would be at risk of coming loose. Rather, most jewelry is made from a gold alloy. An alloy is a combination of any two metals. For example brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. Brass is made by melting down copper and zinc and stirring them together.
Indicating Gold Content
Identifying Gold Plated Pieces Requires Basic Technique
Anything that is gold-plated often gets a bad rap for not being the real deal. But, many gold electroplated items are of good quality and easy on the pocket.
That said, it helps to know what gold plated means to ensure that you are making the right decision and getting value for your money when shopping for jewelry.
We hope this guide helped to demystify some often confusing terms in the world of metallurgy and jewelry. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Gold And Tarnishing Or Discoloration
Unsurprisingly, pure gold bars and accessories are the least prone to tarnishing and discoloration when compared to their gold-plated and gold-filled counterparts. 24-karat gold is nearly impossible to tarnish, but its existence is rare in most markets, even the niche ones.
The most common cause of the discoloration of pure gold bars, coins, and wearables is the degradation of their metal alloys. Unless you combine gold with an equally expensive mineral such as platinum or rhodium, it can tarnish pretty fast, and when you pair it with copper or nickel, your gold necklaces, watches, and wedding bands can darken in only a couple of years.
People use gold-filled items to prevent the base metal from coming in contact with the skin, where oils, germs, and various detrimental minerals like salt and sulfur subsist. So, while gold-filled pieces of jewelry make perfect anniversary gifts, fraternity rings, and business wear, pure gold comes in the form of bars, which generally sit inside vaults for a long time.
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Gold Vs Gold Plated Jewelry
The difference between solid gold and gold-plated jewelry is in the metals they contain. In gold jewelry, solid gold is mixed with other metals in varying amounts, while in gold plated jewelry some non-gold metal alloys are covered with a thin layer of gold.
Curious to know the differences between jewelry made of gold and gold plating? Keep on reading!
Downsides Of Plated Jewelry
As you might expect, picking the cheaper option also has its disadvantages.
For starters, the plating that covers your jewelry will inevitably wear away. The thicker the outer layer, the more time it will take before it wears away and the lower layer becomes visible.
At that point, you can take the piece to your jeweler to get it replated. The problem with replating is that it costs money and some metals, such as gold or rhodium, are very expensive.
You should also keep in mind that the more moving parts a jewelry piece has, the harder it is to plate it again. Be wary of buying such items plated.
If you are comfortable with the thought that the plating will wear away at some point, you should also know that its hard to predict when this will happen.
How long the plating will stay intact will depend on its thickness, how frequently you wear the piece as well as its design.
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Advantages Of Gold Plated Jewelry
- Gold-plated items have the appearance and appeal of gold. They are the perfect alternative to the more expensive pure gold or gold-filled jewelry
- Versatile: Gold-plated items lend themselves well to different designs and are quite fashionable while being inexpensive.
- Hardy: Gold-plated jewelry stands up well to abuse compared to pure gold, which is soft and whose shape is easily changed.
Acid Testing: The Most Reliable Method
Perhaps the most reliable way to find out the gold content of jewelry is to do an acid test. .
Although you can buy an acid testing kit and perform the test at home, interpreting the results can get tricky depending on the gold alloy examined. This is why we recommend that you have such a test done by a professional.
Heres how acid testing works:
The jeweler will take some sample material from your jewelry and then apply acid to it to observe if there is a color change, which will indicate what metals the sample contains.
Acid testing is used mainly to determine the karat of solid gold jewelry, but it can also indicate whether the piece is plated.
Its also useful to know that many gold-plated pieces are coated with 24/22/20/18-karat gold, so if you come across an item whose surface acid-tests like 24, 22, 20, or 18 karats but the price is too cheap for that karat, then the jewelry is probably plated.
Alternatively, if you scratch a plated piece deep enough, you will see the underlying metal, which will confirm that the jewelry is not solid gold try this on your own risk, though.
Note: Solid gold does not mean pure. You should keep in mind that solid pieces consist of an alloy of gold and other metals, and the purity of this mixture depends on how much gold it contains. A piece can be made of solid gold and have very low gold purity at the same time .
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Avoid Unnecessary Contact With Water
According to Fortune & Frame founder Gretel Going, not all gold-plated jewelry is created equal. There are a couple of approaches to plating, and the coating can range from the equivalent of a first coat of spray paint to extremely thick, and, therefore, less likely to tarnish or fade over time. The more microns of gold used, the better, as it’s less likely a piece of gold-plated jewelry will tarnish.
To keep your pieces from premature damage, be sure to take off gold-plated jewelry when showering or swimming. Chlorine, salt water, and fresh water can damage precious metals by dulling or eroding them, Hordern tells Byrdie. Soapy water when bathing and showering can also leave a thin film, which makes the metal seem dull. And because of the chemicals present in perfume, hairspray, makeup, deodorants, and other beauty products, Missoma’s golden rule is to make gold-plated jewelry the last thing you put on and the first thing you take off.
What Is Gold Plating
Gold plating refers to a method of coating the surface of a metal with a thin layer of gold. Some other metals gilded with gold are stainless steel, nickel, brass, titanium, and tungsten. However, not all of them are suitable for crafting jewelry.
Gold plating is done for crafting costume jewelry or making imitations of more expensive pieces. For example, a 14k solid gold necklace can cost as much as US$7,000 while its gold plated counterpart will be just a few dollars.
The origin of gold-plating has its root in the early 19th century. Luigi Brugnatelli an Italian chemist invented this method in 1805. He applied a thin layer of gold onto a silver article to create the plating.
With this technique, Brugnatelli brought the golden aesthetic to the reach of mass people. The beauty of gold had fascinated people in all eras but only the elites could afford it before the invention of plating.
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What Does Gold Plated Mean
Gold plated jewelry pieces are those that have a coating of gold over a base metal, like copper. This type of jewelry is almost of negligible value comparing to real gold and is equivalent to a mere coloring on what is a relatively common metal. There exist other forms of gold jewelry that essentially follow the same process. These are called by different names due to the thickness of the layer of gold, the difference in base metal, and corresponding value.
What Does Gold Plated Mean When It Comes To Jewelry
The pursuit of gold has been a common trope in the historical pursuit of the most valuable objects in the world. There was even an entire science dedicated to converting base metals into gold, called alchemy. If this sounds like a fantasy, one of the most famous alchemists was Sir. Isaac Newton. Besides alchemy, supernatural accounts of cities of gold like Shangri La are popular myths. While the gold of these accounts is pure, solid gold, here are other types of gold ornaments one can purchase at lower prices. Some of the popular alternatives are gold plated items, but how do they compare to solid gold or other alternatives like filled gold?
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How Long Does 24k Gold Plated Jewelry Last
Depending on the thickness of the gold layer and how often you choose to wear the jewelry, the gold plating could last for up to 2 years.
The plating will not, however, last very long because the layer of gold flakes off over time, thereby exposing the base metal. The jewelry will also lose its luster, and it will fade away with time.
With proper care, however, the 24k gold plated jewelry will, however, last for 2 years or longer. To maintain the gold finish, you may want to replate the jewelry after some time.
Keep in mind that how often you replate the jewelry will depend on the thickness of the initial plated layer, the color of the base metal, the quality of the piece of jewelry, as well as the amount of wear and tear sustained by the piece over time.
How To Determine If Your Jewelry Is Solid Gold Or Gold Plated:
How many times have you looked at a piece of gold jewelry and wondered if it’s real or not? Do the pieces you got as wedding gifts look too bright or too dull? What does that mean? Well, you can apply these tips to differentiate between solid gold and gold plated jewelry.
1- Gold Plated Markings
To identify the real ones, you should look for stamps. The standard markings for this jewelry type are: GP, GEP, HGE, HGP.
Genuine gold plating jewelry may have no marking at all. Unlike solid gold and sterling silver jewelry, there are no strict rules for stamping the gold platedjewelry.
To avoid ending up with a cheap counterfeit, always purchase from a reputable brand or a big-box store.
A gold jewelry piece that does not contain any of these markings can still be genuine gold. But you have to perform the following tests to be sure.
Gold does not have any magnetic properties. So, if your jewelry piece is pulled in by a magnet, it possibly contains some metals other than gold.
However, you cannot make a decision based on this test only. Genuine gold jewelry has metal alloys that may have some magnet-drawing components.
On the other hand, a gold plated jewelry piece may not respond to the magnetic pull because its base metal is not magnetic. In that case, any amateur may mistake it for real gold.
4- Acid test
5- Scratch test
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What Makes Monica Vinader Special
We are a contemporary jewellery brand that was founded in 2008.We combine beautiful metals with vibrant gemstones to createelegant pieces you’ll adore. From simple studearrings, to gorgeous layerednecklaces, to everyday stackingrings, to friendshipbracelets for a sentimental gift, you’ll find your perfectpiece at Monica Vinader.
It Has Different Options
You can have different gold options as you dont always have to spend a lot on the same. You can use the cheaper ones sometimes to deliver the perfect look you need.
You dont always have to spend thousands of dollars on real gold all the time. You will still look stylish when you use your plated gold chains, bracelets, rings, or other jewels.
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What Is The Ideal Thickness Of Coating
The standard thickness of the gold coating is between 0.17 and 2.5 microns or micrometers . This is the standard unit of length used for measuring the thickness of gold plating and other similar things with a microscopic length.
Gold plating thickness determines its durability. The more the microns, the better the chance for the gold plating to last with usage.
A 0.17 micron of coating contains only 0.05% of gold and such layers are extremely thin. Known as gold washing or flashing, this coating wears off fast and quite easily. because of minimal exposure to rubbing and rough wear, A 0.17-micron thick coating is ideal for earrings, lockets, and brooches.
The pieces that are likely to undergo heavy wear and tear like rings and bracelets should have gold plating thickness between 0.5 and 1.0 microns. These are still pencil-thin layers but not quite flimsy to get rubbed off easily.
If you want durable gold plating, choose a piece with 2.5 microns of thickness. This one lasts longer than other plating options.
However, a thin coating does not make gold plated jewelry trash. They have their own beauty and a specific price value. Real gold is used in making them but they are not as valuable as gold because of how little gold is used.
Are Gold Plated Chains Any Good
Determining if gold-plated chains are any good requires knowing the good and the bad of gold plating.
Your answer is mainly personal, but it helps to be informed in your decision-making process. Lets look at the pros and cons.
- Gold plated jewelry is affordable, particularly for those who dont have the finances to purchase solid gold
- Though they are much cheaper, gold plated items look like real gold especially to the untrained eye
- Because of the price, you can buy in-style items without worrying that youve made a considerable investment. You cant do the same with solid gold youre more inclined to purchasing classic pieces to suit your taste decades on
- Solid gold is soft, and the higher the karat, the more it is exposed to scratching. In that regard, one would state that gold-plated items are stronger and durable, being able to handle everyday wear much better
- Gold plated jewelry will tarnish, and the base metal will appear over time
- The gold later starts to wear off, flake off or chip over time because the gold layer is thin
- Gold plated jewelry has little gold on it, and thus not valuable like solid gold
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Disadvantages Of Gold Plated Jewelry
- Gold plated items are made using base materials such as silver, copper, and tin. Although these core metals are sturdy and dont bend easily, they eventually tarnish and show through the thin layer of gold. Items such as watches, earrings, and rings are worn regularly and are more prone to tarnishing. On the upside, you can have your item re-plated to restore its luster and shine.
- The thin layer of gold is easy to scratch. Even the slightest abrasion can spell the start of the tarnishing process, and your once lustrous jewelry will begin to lose its shine in what started as a small scratch.
- Compared to solid gold and gold-filled items, plated jewelry has little to no economic value. This is because the traces of gold on these jewelry types are so minimal and are only useful for decorative purposes.
The Difference Between Gold
Gold-filled and gold-plated accessories are the same in concept: both non-gold base metals like copper, nickel, or jewelers brass with a gold coat, which fools people into thinking they are more expensive than their price on the tag. However, they are products of two different manufacturing processes.
To make a gold-filled accessory, you need two gold sheets, a base metal core, and a generous amount of heat. Youll need to thin out the gold into a leaf-like thickness and then bond it to the jewelers brass with a blowtorch or a metal bender. Most metalsmiths accomplish this by heating the gold alloy and putting it through a metal roller a handful of times, which will both reduce its thickness and bond it together with the jewelers brass.
Gold-filled accessories tarnish much more slowly than gold-plated ones. Youll find them more durable and capable of standing up to harsher operating environments. If you wear them to the gym, they will resist your sweat more competently, or you can take them out to the beach or the pool and notice no discoloration for at least a few summers.
Gold-filled accessories also command a higher price tag because they feature a higher percentage of gold. Whereas gold-plated necklaces and earrings are only 0.05 percent gold or lower, gold-filled jewelry is around 5 percent. Thats over a hundred times more gold content, but the price tag only doubles or triples. Therefore, as a first-time gold buyer, you can breathe easy.
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