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Article: 18K Gold vs 18K Gold Plated: Which Is Better?

18K Gold vs 18K Gold Plated: Which Is Better?

18K Gold vs 18K Gold Plated: Which Is Better?

When deciding between 18K gold vs 18K gold plated jewellery, it is important to understand their pros, cons and differences. In this blog, we go into detail about how these two forms of gold differ. We cover the pros, cons and differences of each type. At the end of the post, we'll offer you suggestions based on important factors you need to consider.


What is 18K Gold Jewellery?

18k gold plated icarus pendant

14K gold refers to a specific type of gold alloy that is used when making jewellery. 14K gold contains 75% pure gold, with the remaining 25% being made up of other metals. Because of this. As more than 50% of 18K gold jewellery is pure gold, it tends to have that iconic yellow gold look to it.

Because 18K gold has a lower percentage of alloys, it tends to be softer and less durable than lower karats of gold. This means that it can easily scratch or dent in comparison.

18K gold jewellery can come in yellow gold, white gold or rose gold. This form of god is used mainly for necklaces, pendants and earrings. However, it can also be used for engagement rings, wedding bands and bracelets. Although it is soft and has a higher purity, it is still decently durable.

To identify if a jewellery piece is solid 18K gold look for marks including “18K” or “750”. This indicates that the piece is made from 75% pure gold mixed with other metals.


  • Higher purity - more vibrant colour than lower karats of gold
  • Durability - softer than lower karats of gold however still offers great durability
  • Less likely to cause allergies - a higher content of gold means that there are fewer alloy metals. This reduces the risk of allergies associated with nickel.
  • Value - because of its higher purity, 18K gold has a higher resale value.


  • Prone to scratching - the higher gold content means that it is a softer karat of gold. This makes it more prone to scratches and dent
  • Price - the higher purity of gold also comes with a greater price tag
  • Requires more care - it needs to be handled carefully to ensure that its appearance is maintained.
  • Heavy - because of the higher purity of gold, 18K gold plated pieces

What is 18K Gold Plated Jewellery?

18k gold plated cross pendant

18K gold plated jewellery is any jewellery that features a thin layer of 18K gold. This layer is applied to a base metal.

The composition of 18K gold is 75% pure and 25% alloyed metals. Because the layer of gold is so thin, the amount of gold is incalculable.

The base layer for 18K gold-plated pieces will usually be brass, copper, nickel, stainless steel or sterling silver.

To identify if a piece of jewellery is 18K gold plated, look for the mark “18KGP”. This indicates that the piece is 18K gold-plated If your gold-plated piece doesn’t have this mark, don’t worry! It is not mandatory for gold-plated pieces to have a hallmark so some may not include it.


  • Affordable - it’s much cheaper than a solid 18K gold jewellery piece. This makes it a great option for those who want to wear gold jewellery but are on a budget.
  • Appearance - has the same look as solid 18K gold
  • Lightweight - gold-plated pieces tend to be lighter in weight as they have less gold.


  • Tarnishing and wear - the thin gold layer wears off over time. This can expose the base metal, leading to tarnishing. This will be dependent on the base layer metal.
  • Skin allergies - if the base metal contains any nickel, it may cause skin allergies when the gold layer fades.
  • Lower resale value - gold plated has no resale value as the amount of gold is an incalculable amount.
  • Requires more care - gold-plated jewellery needs to be cleaned and handled carefully in order to prolong its lifespan.

Differences between 18K Gold and 18K Gold Plated:

solid gold vs gold plated

Gold Percentage:

18K gold consists of 75% gold and 25% alloyed metal. 18K gold plated pieces have the same composition. However, gold-plated pieces have less overall gold.


An 18K gold plated jewellery piece may be harder and more durable than an 18K solid gold jewellery piece. This is highly dependent on the base metal of the gold-plated piece.

18K gold is more durable in terms of dentin and scratching. It will also have longer longevity.

Allergies and skin sensitivity:

Skin allergies from jewellery are due to the presence of nickel. Nickel is present in most gold allows as well as base metal in gold-plated jewellery. The severity of these reactions depends on the composition of the 18K gold. For gold-plated pieces, the base metal will determine this.

To prevent skin allergies, choose 18K gold which has a lower percentage of nickel. For 18K gold plated pieces, choose one that features a 316L stainless steel base. Stainless steel is a hypoallergenic material that doesn't cause nickel allergies.


18K solid gold jewellery is more expensive than 18K gold plated jewellery. This is for a number of reasons. 18K solid gold pieces will have a higher content of gold. They will also require greater craftsmanship than gold-plated pieces.

Maintenance and care:

An 18K solid gold jewellery piece will be much easier to care for than an 18K gold plated jewellery piece.

For 18K solid gold jewellery pieces, all you need is to create a mixture of both warm water and mild detergent. Then just use a soft-bristled brush to clean.

For gold-plated jewellery, you will need to take more care when cleaning. Gold-plated pieces should only be cleaned with a soft, dry cloth. Avoid harsh chemical cleaners or abrasive scrubs, as this can strip the gold plating off.

Learn more about keeping your gold plated jewellery by reading our blog which covers everything you need to know in regards to how to clean gold plated jewellery


18K solid gold jewellery pieces have a greater value than 18K gold plated pieces. This is because 18K solid gold contains greater amounts of gold. Because of this, 18K solid gold jewellery pieces tend to maintain their value over time. This means that 18K gold jewellery can be a great investment.

18K Gold vs 18K Gold Plated: Which Should You Get?

Whether 18K solid gold or 18K gold plated is better for you will depend on a variety of factors. These include personal preference, budget, intended use and considerations around durability and maintenance.

18K gold is great for someone looking for both durability and longevity. This is also a better option for someone looking for investment jewellery that will retain or increase in value.

18K gold plated jewellery is an affordable gold option. This is a great option for those who want to same look as gold, at a fraction of the cost. This is also a relatively durable option that is much lighter in weight.



After comparing 18K gold and 18K gold plated jewellery, you should now know each one's pros, cons and the differences between the two.

Choosing between 18K and 18K gold-plated jewellery will depend on a number of factors including gold content, durability, allergies, price, maintenance requirements and value retention.

18K gold jewellery has a composition of 75% pure gold and 25% alloys and is durable, long-lasting and retains its value.

Whilst 18K gold plated jewellery has the same composition and appearance, whilst having less overall gold content and being more affordable.

Ultimately, the choice between 18K gold and 18K gold plated depends on your personal preference, budget and purpose.

To learn more about gold plated jewellery read our blog which goes over what is gold plated jewellery

FAQs about gold-plated jewellery

How long does 18K gold plating last?

How long 18K gold plating lasts will depend on how thick the gold layer is, as well as the technique used for plating. On average, expect gold-plated jewellery pieces to last between 6 months to 2 years before the plating wears off.

Can I wear 18K gold every day?

Yes, 18k gold can be worn every day. However, this is not the recommended caratage for everyday use as 18K gold is a softer material. For everyday use, jewellery pieces between 9 karat and 14k will be much more durable.

Is 18K gold low quality?

No, 18K gold is purer than lower karats of gold. Compared to lower karats of gold like 10K and 14K, 18K gold is purer and is more resistant to tarnishing. However, one drawback of 18K gold is that it is softer and more susceptible to dents and scratches.

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