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Article: Gold Tone vs Gold Plated Jewellery: What's The Difference?

Gold Tone vs Gold Plated Jewellery: What's The Difference?

Gold Tone vs Gold Plated Jewellery: What's The Difference?

In the world of affordable gold jewellery, the choice between gold tone and gold plated jewellery is a common one. Both gold-tone and gold-plated jewellery come with their pros and cons, which you need to know before making a purchasing decision.

In this blog, we compare gold-tone vs gold-plated jewellery. We cover each one’s pros and cons and compare the differences between the two. We then offer suggestions on which would be best suited for you.

What is gold-tone jewellery?

Gold-tone jewellery refers to any piece of jewellery that has a gold appearance but doesn’t use real gold. The gold colour is often achieved through a gold-coloured paint or finish and not real gold metal.

  • Affordability - Gold-tone jewellery is more affordable than solid gold or gold-plated jewellery. This is because it doesn't use real gold. 
  • Variety - Simple manufacturing processes make it easy to make a wide range of designs using gold-tone techniques.
  • Less risk - Ideal for trendy, less timeless pieces since the investment is minimal.
  • Lightweight - gold-tone jewellery is often super lightweight and ideal for everyday wear. This is because it doesn't feature gold plating.
  • No tarnishing - unlike gold plated, gold-tone jewellery doesn’t tarnish as there is no real gold layer to wear off. However, this is at the sacrifice of appearance.

  • Durability- The gold colour will fade or chip over time, eventually revealing the base metal underneath.
  • No resale value - there are no precious metals used, therefore gold-tone jewellery has zero resale value.
  • Skin sensitivity - the chemicals present in gold-tone jewellery may cause skin allergies for some people. However, this will mainly be determined by the base metal of the gold-tone jewellery.
  • Colour variations - the shape of gold-tone jewellery can vary widely. This can give it a less authentic look.

What is gold-plated jewellery?

3mm gold wheat chain
Gold-plated jewellery refers to pieces of jewellery that feature base metals such as copper, silver or stainless steel. The base metal is then covered by a thin layer of real gold, usually through electroplating or PVD plating.

  • Real gold - Offers a semblance of luxury with its real gold plating, whilst still being affordable.
  • Affordable Luxury- Looks exactly like solid gold, but is much more affordable.
  • Hypoallergenic - gold-plated jewellery is better for sensitive skin compared to gold-tone jewellery.

  • Tarnishing - The thin gold layer can wear away with exposure to water, body oils and chemicals. Over time this can cause the piece to look discoloured.
  • Maintenance - Gold-plated jewellery requires careful handling and storage to maintain its appearance. This is because the gold plating is quiet fragile.


What are the differences between gold-tone and gold-plated jewellery?

Gold-tone jewellery uses no real gold and instead uses gold paint or a gold finish. Whereas gold-plated jewellery is made with a thin layer of gold. This layer is usually less than 0.5 microns thick and can purity from 10k up to 18k

Gold-plated jewellery tends to be more durable and long-lasting than gold-tone. This is because gold-plated jewellery uses real gold that is bound to a base metal, whilst a synthetic coating is less resilient to wear and tear.

The electroplating or PVD process used for gold-plated jewellery ensures a stronger bond between the gold layer and the base metal. This gives gold-plated jewellery a more durable and long-lasting finish.

The thickness of the "gold" layer in gold-plated jewellery is thicker and more substantial than gold-tone jewellery.

Gold-tone jewellery is cheaper than gold-plated jewellery. This is for a variety of reasons.

Gold-tone jewellery does not contain any real gold. The base metal for gold-tone jewellery is usually a cheaper metal like brass or copper. The gold colour is mainly achieved through a coating or painting process which is less expensive than using real gold for plating.

The manufacturing process for gold-tone jewellery is simpler and cheaper than gold-plating. Gold-tone jewellery is often mass-produced using simpler and more cost-efficient techniques. Gold plating uses more intricate processes of electroplating or PVD plating with real gold to achieve an authentic look.

Gold-plated jewellery is heavier than gold-tone jewellery. This is because gold-plated jewellery uses metals for both the base metal and the gold plating. Whilst gold-tone jewellery uses a base metal but a thin gold painting or finish. Overall gold plated jewellery utilises more metal than gold-tone jewellery, giving it a heavier feel.


Gold-tone vs gold-plated jewellery, which one is better?

Whether gold tone or gold plated jewellery is better for you will depend on your personal preferences, styling needs and budget.

Gold-tone jewellery is perfect for someone looking for affordable and lightweight jewellery that has very low risk when it comes to theft and financial loss if it gets lost or damaged.

Gold-plated jewellery is perfect for someone looking for an affordable gold piece that utilises real gold and is more durable. This is also the better option for someone looking for a jewellery piece that will be suitable for sensitive skin.



Now that we have compared gold-tone vs gold-plated jewellery, you should have a better understanding of the pros and cons of each. The choice between these two popular types of gold jewellery depends on your preferences, budget and styling needs.

Gold–tone jewellery is affordable, lightweight and has low risk when it comes to theft and financial loss. Whilst gold plated jewellery offers a more true appearance of gold at an affordable price, with great durability and hypoallergenic properties.

Remember when choosing between the two pieces, you should always put first how these pieces make you feel and the story that they help you tell. Jewellery should be a personal statement and a celebration of your individuality.

Want to learn more about gold plated jewellery? Read our blog which covers what gold plated jewellery is.

shop our gold plated jewellery


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