Gold Filled vs. Gold Plated: Which Is Better?
When it comes to choosing gold jewellery, the various terms and classifications can be overwhelming. Karats, gold-filled, gold-plated - what do these mean? And more importantly, how do they affect the jewellery's value, appearance and durability?
In this blog, we compared gold-filled vs gold-plated. We'll cover their pros, and cons and determine their differences. In addition to this, we'll do a basic overview of karats and the measure of gold purity.
Measuring Gold In Karats
Gold allows are measured using the units of karats. When you buy a piece of jewellery that is 24 karats, it means that the jewellery piece is 100% pure gold.
To work out the purity of your gold jewellery piece, simply divide the karats of your jewellery piece by 24 karats. For example, for a 9-karat piece of jewellery, this would be 9 divided by 24, which would mean 37.% pure gold.
The value of your gold jewellery is proportional to it's purity. Higher purities will be more expensive.
This doesn't necessarily mean better. High-purity gold is softer and more susceptible to damage. For long-lasting everyday jewellery pieces, it may be better to go for lower karat pieces. A good range is between 10 and 18K. Having gold mixed with other metals creates an overall stronger jewellery piece.
What karats should you choose for your gold pieces?
For daily-wear jewellery pieces that are more exposed to daily wear and tear, like bracelets and rings, lower karats would be better. Within the 10 to 14K range is ideal.
For jewellery that is exposed to less daily wear and tear, like necklaces and pendants, higher karats ranging from 14-20K would be idea.
Higher karat pieces that have 20K+ purity are best for jewellery pieces worn on special occasions, and is not recommended to be worn on a daily basis.
You may now be asking yourself, how do you determine the karat of the gold chain that you have?
Usually, for solid gold chains, there will be unique markings which indicate the percentage of purity of the piece These will show if the piece is 10k, 14, 18k or 24k.
On some pieces, there may be a hallmark which indicates the type of gold piece it is. These include “GF” for gold field and “GP” for gold plated.
What is gold-filled jewellery?
Gold filled jewellery is less pure than solid gold jewellery, however is much more affordable and durable.
Gold filled jewellery can range from 10K to 24K. They often have up to several layers of solid gold around the base metal. This ensures that the jewellery does not peel or chip.
- Easier to maintain and clean - just wipe gently with a soft cloth
- Greater durability - gold-filled jewellery has a thicker layer of gold. Making it more durable, resistant to scratching and chipping.
- Greater resistance to tarnishing - gold filled jewellery has a thick layer of gold, making it resistant to tarnishing and fading.
- Hypoallergenic - the thick gold layer on gold-filled jewellery prevents the chain from causing allergies when worn.
- Appearance - gold-filled jewellery has the same appearance as solid gold pieces.
- Price - gold-filled jewellery is more affordable than solid gold. However, it is still quiet expensive when compared to gold-plated jewellery. This is because the layer of gold on gold-filled jewellery is still thick.
What is gold-plated jewellery?
Gold plating does not make up any calculable gold percentage as the base metal is extremely thin.
Gold vermeil is another type of gold plating, but uses only sterling silver as the base metal. This is a great alternative to those allergic to nickel. In addition to this, this style of gold plating is resistant to oxidising.
- Affordable - gold plated jewellery is much more affordable than other types of gold jewellery. This is because it uses less gold.
- Durable - although the plating on gold-plated jewellery is thin, the base metal of these pieces is durable.
- Appearance - gold-plated jewellery pieces look the same solid and gold-filled.
- Lightweight - the layer of gold on plated jewellery is thin, making it lighter in weight in comparison to other types of gold jewellery.
- Prone to damage - the thin gold layer is more susceptible to chipping off, exposing the base metal underneath. This can make the jewellery lose it's lustre and appearance over time.
- Prone to tarnishing and fading - gold plated jewellery is prone to tarnishing and discolouration. This is especially true if it comes into contact with chemicals, lotions or perfumes. Because of this, regular cleaning and maintenance is required to keep the lustre of gold-plated jewellery
- Allergies - once the base layer of gold-plated jewellery wears off, the base metal will be revealed. If the base metal of the jewellery is brass or nickel, it can cause nickel allergy skin reactions.
Want to learn more about gold plated chains specifically? Read our blog which covers what a gold plated chain is.
Differences Between Gold Filled & Gold Plated Jewelry
- Thickness - gold-filled jewellery has a thicker layer of gold in comparison to gold-plated jewellery.
- Value - gold-filled jewellery has a higher value than gold-plated jewellery as it has more gold.
- Longevity - the thicker gold layer on gold-filled jewellery gives it great longevity than plated pieces.
- Manufacturing - gold filled jewellery is made using a mechanical process involving heat. Gold-plated jewellery is covered with a thin layer of gold through a chemical process.
- Hypoallergenic properties - a gold-filled jewellery piece tends to be more hypoallergenic than gold plated pieces. However, this will depend on the base metal. This is because it has a thicker gold layer on top of the base metal, reducing the chances of the base metal becoming exposed.
- Price - gold plated jewellery is more affordable than gold-filled jewellery. This is because gold-plated jewellery has a thinner layer of gold.
Gold Filled vs Gold Plated: Which Is Better?
Choosing between the gold-filled or gold-plated jewellery should depend on your your personal preferences and budget.
Gold filled is a better option for those with a great budget an want a piece that has more gold, greater value and is more durable.
Gold plated options are great for those looking for a more affordable chain that has the appearance of solid gold, whilst still being lightweight and durable.
Now that we have compared gold-filled vs gold-plated jewellery, you should have a better understanding of gold purity, and what gold filled and gold plated jewellery is, You should also be able to distinguish the pros, cons and differences between the two.
In this blog, we have learnt that karats are the measure of purity of gold, with 24 karats representing 100% pure gold. By extension, the karat also provides the value of the gold jewellery piece.
Gold-filled jewellery features multiple gold layers wrapped around a base metal. Whereas gold plated pieces feature a thinner gold layer. Both gold-filled and gold-plated jewellery offer similar appearances to gold.
The choice between gold filled and gold-plated jewellery depends on your budget, preferences and intended uses for the piece. Whether you are looking for the long-lasting nature of gold-filled jewellery, or the affordable allure of gold-plated jewellery, understanding these nuances ensures you can make an informed buying decision.
Which is better gold plated or gold filled?
Neither one is better really depends on what you are looking for. If you are looking for jewellery that has more gold and is longer lasting then gold-filled would be best for you. If you are in the market for something that is more affordable, looks just like gold and has a much lighter feel, then gold plated would be best for you.
Can I shower with gold-filled jewellery?
Yes, you can shower with gold-filled jewellery without worrying about it tarnishing, fading, rusting or oxidising. This is because gold-filled jewellery features thick layers of gold that prevent the base metal from being exposed.
Does gold fill turn green?
No, gold-filled jewellery does not tend to go green. This is because gold-filled jewellery features a thick layer of gold that prevents the base layer from being exposed.