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Article: Gold Plated Brass vs Gold Plated Stainless Steel: Which One Is Better?

gold plated brass vs gold plated stainless steel

Gold Plated Brass vs Gold Plated Stainless Steel: Which One Is Better?

When selecting gold-plated jewellery, understanding the materials used in its creation is key. Brass and stainless steel are the most popular base metals for gold-plated jewellery. Both of these base metals offer unique characteristics and appearances.

In this blog, we compare gold-plated brass vs gold-plated stainless steel jewellery. We explore their pros and cons and cover the main differences.

What is gold-plated brass?

gold plated brass letter pendants

Gold-plated brass jewellery consists of a brass base metal. This brass metal is made using a mixture of copper and zinc. This brass is then covered in a thin layer of gold which is less than 1 micron thick. This is usually done via electroplating or PVD plating.

Pros
  • Lightweight feel - brass has a much lighter feel than other types of base metals. This makes it a great material for everyday lightweight jewellery pieces.
  • Affordable - Gold-plated brass is more affordable than plating on other types of metals. This is because it is a much more affordable metal.
  • Appearance - gold plating over brass offers a similar appearance to solid gold.
  • Customisability - gold-plated brass jewellery is much softer. This makes it more versatile for jewellery making.

Cons
  • Less durable - once the gold layer on gold-plated brass jewellery wears off, the brass metal underneath will become exposed. This can lead to a loss of the gold colour, which may require replating.
  • Tarnishing and corrosion - brass is susceptible to tarnishing and corroding over time. This is especially true when exposed to moisture, skin oils and chemicals. This can cause the brass jewellery pieces to lose their colour and sometimes even go green.
  • Allergic reactions - brass is not hypoallergenic. There is a risk of getting skin allergies when wearing jewellery made from it.
  • Maintenance and care requirements - gold-plated brass requires careful maintenance to prolong its life. It needs to be kept dry, cleaned and stored properly.

What is gold-plated stainless steel?

Gold-plated stainless steel jewellery consists of a stainless steel base metal. Stainless steel consists of chromium, nickel, molybdenum and a small percentage of carbon. This stainless steel is then covered in a thin layer of gold which is less than 1 micron thick. This is usually done via electroplating or PVD plating.

Pros
  • Durability - stainless steel makes for a strong and durable base metal for gold plating. This base metal is resistant to scratches and corrosion.
  • Affordable - gold plating over stainless steel looks just like gold jewellery without the heavy price tag.
  • Appearance - gold plating over stainless steel looks identical to solid gold jewellery. All at the same time being a fraction of the cost and with greater durability.
  • Hypoallergenic - stainless steel is known for being hypoallergenic. This makes it a good option for those with sensitive skin.
  • No tarnishing - stainless steel doesn't tarnish over time. This allows the jewellery to maintain its look over time.

Cons
  • Heavier feel - stainless steel feels heavier than other types of metals. For some, this weight may be too uncomfortable for daily wear.

What is the difference between gold-plated brass and gold-plated stainless steel?

Durability
Gold-plated stainless steel is much more durable than gold-plated brass jewellery. This is for a variety of reasons.

Stainless steel generally has great corrosion resistance due to the presence of chromium. This chromium layer acts as a protective layer against oxidation. Stainless steel is also stronger and harder than brass. This makes it more resistant to scratches, denting and deformation.

Stainless steel also maintains its colour when exposed to air and moisture. Brass on the other hand tends to lose its colour and develop a greenish tint over time.

Gold plating also adheres more durably and consistently on stainless steel. This is because it is a harder and more corrosion-resistant metal. Gold-plated brass jewellery will wear off over time.

Hypoallergenic / tarnish-resistant properties
Gold-plated stainless steel is more hypoallergenic than gold-plated brass jewellery. The layer of chromium in stainless steel provides a protective oxide layer. This prevents corrosion and skin irritation when worn.

Copper, present in brass often causes metal allergies. When the gold layer on gold-plated brass wears off, brass comes into direct contact with skin. This can lead to skin allergies and green discolouration on the skin.

Weight
Gold-plated stainless steel jewellery is heavier than gold-plated brass jewellery. Stainless steel is a denser material than brass, with it having a density of 8g per cubic centimetre. Whilst brass only has a density of 6.4 to 8.7g per cubic meter. This gives gold-plated stainless steel jewellery a heavier feel than gold-plated brass jewellery.

Price
In general, gold-plated stainless steel jewellery will be more expensive than brass. Stainless steel is a more expensive material. It also requires more complex production processes.

At the same time, stainless steel's durability properties contribute to its higher price. It is a stronger, longer lasting and lower maintenance material.

Stainless steel also has a higher perceived value in comparison to brass. This is also one of the reasons why it is more expensive than brass.

Gold-plated brass vs gold-plated stainless steel: which one is best for you?

Whether gold-plated brass or stainless steel is better for you will depend on a variety of factors. This includes personal preference, budget and styling needs.

Gold-plated brass jewellery is super affordable and has a lightweight feel. Whilst gold-plated stainless steel jewellery is more durable and offers tarnish resistance.

Conclusion

Now that we have compared gold-plated brass vs gold-plated stainless steel jewellery, you should know each one's pros, cons and differences. The choice between gold-plated brass and stainless steel jewellery depends on individual needs and preferences.

Gold-plated brass is a softer material, allowing for more jewellery customisation options. Brass itself has a lower value and is a more affordable metal for jewellery making. It also offers a more lightweight feel when worn.

Gold-plated stainless steel offers great durability and is resistant to scratching. This is a great option for daily wear jewellery pieces as it also offers tarnish and corrosion resistance.

Want to learn more about gold plated jewellery? Read our blog which answers the question "what is gold plated jewellery?"

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