When looking for gold jewelry, you may have noticed a particular detail – some are labeled gold plated, while others are gold filled. So what is the difference between gold plated and gold filled jewelry, and why does it matter?
Gold Plated VS Gold Filled
Aside from solid gold jewelry, which is often far too expensive, there are two more golden options – gold filled jewelry and gold plated jewelry. While they are both golden in color, so whichever you choose will have the color you’re looking for, these two options come with not so insignificant differences.
Gold filled jewelry
It does not, in fact, mean that a mold is filled with gold. Filled, in this case, means that there is a layer of gold present. A piece of gold filled jewelry is made by fusing a layer of gold to another metal (for example, brass). The whole process is pressure. This means that while your jewelry may not be solid gold, it does have a substantial amount of gold in it. For something to be marked as gold filled, it must contain at least 1/10 gold.
Gold plated jewelry
On the other hand, gold plated jewelry is made by fusing only a thin layer of gold onto other metals (commonly silver or copper). The amount of gold on these items is lesser than on gold filled items, and it’s also more common. The amount of gold that goes into plating a piece of jewelry is about 6 microns (0.0002 of an inch) – much, much less than in gold filled jewelry!
The desired longevity of your jewelry is another thing you have to take into consideration when choosing between gold filling or plating. Gold plating eventually tarnished and peels off, while gold filled jewelry carries no such risk – there’s absolutely no danger in getting it wet, wearing it while in the shower, or keeping it on when you’re washing your hands!
Since the gold-filled items are made by a pressure and heat bonding, and it does contain more actual gold, this kind of jewelry can last a lifetime. Gold plated gold is susceptible to tarnish, and it can even peel off after a while. The reason for tarnish, peeling, and the loss of gold in gold plated items is not only because they are made with a far lesser quantity of gold, but also because of the chemical process the jewelry goes through to be gold plated.
Another risk when buying gold plated jewelry is that when the color eventually peels off, the base metal can react with your skin and turn it green. You may have noticed this happening if you’ve ever bought beautiful but cheaper jewelry – most often it’s made of brass, so when it reacts with your skin, it turns it green, or can even cause very uncomfortable itching.
Gold filled items, however, have no risk of causing allergies. Since they do not tarnish, and cannot peel off, there is no danger of your skin reacting negatively. A much thicker layer of gold is on gold filled jewelry, so much so that it’s hardly distinguishable from solid gold jewelry. It’s also made of gold much higher in quality.
Ultimately, the choice of gold filled vs. gold plated jewelry is entirely up to you. If you want something beautiful, inexpensive, and maybe just for a night or two go for gold plated. If, however, you’re looking for something that can last you a lifetime, gold-filled jewelry is a better choice. Drop by one of Santayana’s shops to view our collection of gold rings and jewelry and take your pick. Also, check out our website if you want to see more articles like this one!