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Article: PVD Coating vs Gold Plating: What's The Difference?

gold jewellery side by side

PVD Coating vs Gold Plating: What's The Difference?

In the world of jewellery, two techniques that are commonly used to coat gold over a base metal include PVD and gold plating. Both methods produce similar results but vary in durability, aesthetics and environmental impact.

In this blog, we compare PVD coating vs gold plating for jewellery. We’ll cover the pros and cons of each, and determine what makes them different. At the end, we’ll give you a suggestion on which would be better for you based on a variety of factors.


What is PVD coating?

PVD gold plating process

Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) coating involves vaporising a material in a vacuum environment. This material is then deposited as a thin layer onto another surface.

Metals commonly used for PVD coating include titanium, zirconium and aluminium nitride. The most common use of PVD coating is to form a gold layer over a base metal for jewellery.

Pros

  • Durability - PVD coatings are highly resistant to tarnishing, corrosion, and scratching. They typically last longer than other types of coating. The PVD coating permeates the surface of the metal, allowing for a more durable finish. PVD coatings also tend to be thicker.
  • Colour variety - different colours and metallic hues can be achieved with PVD coating.
  • Hypoallergenic - if PVD coatings are done using hypoallergenic materials, then they are safe for sensitive skin.
  • Eco-Friendly - PVD coating is a more environmentally friendly process. This is because it produces fewer harmful by-products compared to traditional plating methods.
  • Appearance - Provides the look of gold at a fraction of the cost of solid gold.

Cons:

  • Cost - typically more expensive than gold plating. This is due to the technology, materials and equipment needed.
  • Limited repairability - Once the plating has been applied it is difficult to repair or alter.
  • Availability - PVD plating is not as easily accessible as gold plating.

 

What is gold plating?

gold plating process

Gold plating is another method that applies a thin layer of gold onto another metal using electroplating.

Common base metals used for god plating include silver, stainless steel and brass. With gold plating, consistency with thickness, quality and purity can vary.

Pros

  • Affordability - more cost-effective than solid gold, whilst offering a similar appearance. This makes gold-plated pieces more accessible.
  • Appearance- Provides the look of gold, enhancing the aesthetic appeal of the jewellery.
  • Flexibility in Design - Gold plating is easy to apply to a variety of metals. This allows for more creative and diverse designs.

Cons

  • Durability - gold plated jewellery is more prone to fading, tarnishing and wear over time. This is because the gold layer has a weaker bond to the base metal.
  • Allergies - jewellery that is gold plated can cause allergic reactions. This is especially true if the base metal is not hypoallergenic.
  • Environmental impact - the electroplating process can involve toxic chemicals and hazardous waste.

 

What are the differences between PVD coating and gold plating?

  • Method of application - PVD uses a vaporisation process in a vacuum. While gold plating uses electroplating.
  • Durability - PVD coatings are more durable than gold plating. This is because the method of application creates a stronger bond between the metal layer and base metal.
  • Colour and finish - PVD can offer a wide range of colours and finishes in comparison to gold plating.
  • Cost and accessibility - gold plating is more affordable and easily accessible than PVD coating. This is because gold plating requires less specialist equipment and energy.
  • Environmental impacts - PVD coating is considered more eco-friendly compared to gold plating. The process does not use liquid solvents or hazardous chemical substances.
  • Hypoallergenic properties - PVD coating doesn’t make use of hazardous chemicals and liquid solvents, whilst gold plating does. This reduces the risk of skin allergies when wearing.

 

PVD coating vs gold plating: which one is better?

3mm gold cuban link chain

Whether getting PVD-coated or gold-plated jewellery is better for you will depend on a variety of factors. These include personal preferences, budget and styling needs.

PVD-coated jewellery is perfect for someone who is looking for a higher-quality gold finish that is hypoallergenic and made using eco-friendly methods. Whilst gold plating is great for someone limited with a budget and wants to experiment with a range of designs.

In our opinion, gold PVD coating comes out on top when it comes to jewellery. This is because it offers the perfect balance between durability, appearance and variety whilst still being extremely affordable. This is why we utilise PVD coating for all of our gold-plated pieces on our website, as we believe the quality is superior to that of traditional plating.

 

Conclusion

Now that we have compared PVD coating vs gold plating, it should be clearer the benefits and limitations of both. The choice between the two ultimately boils down to your individual needs, preferences and values.

For those who are seeking durability, hypoallergenic properties and an eco-friendly option, PVD coating stands out. The use of advanced technology ensures a stronger bond, and longer-lasting finish and allows for a broader palette of colours and shades.

On the other hand, gold plating is great in terms of affordability and flexibility in design. This is a great option for those on a budget who are looking to experiment with different styles. Whilst it may not be as durable as PVD coating, its aesthetic appeal makes it a popular choice for many.

At Sky Austria, we utilise PVD coating because it is the perfect balance between durability, appearance and variety. We believe in providing our customers with jewellery that looks good, lasts long and is environmentally friendly.

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