Article: What Is A Gold Plated Chain? Everything You Need To Know
What Is A Gold Plated Chain? Everything You Need To Know
What Is A Gold Plated Chain?
A gold plated chain is a piece of metal jewellery with a thin layer of gold plating bound onto the base metal. The process was founded by Luigi Brunatelli an Itallian alchemist.
Gold plating is often used for costume jewellery or to create pieces that mimic solid gold jewellery.
The differences between solid gold jewellery and gold plated jewellery is extremely hard to tell, and with it being a fraction of the cost provides an affordable alternative.
Try guess the visual differences between our Rio 18k gold plated rope chain we offer at Sky Austria and another brands solid 18ct gold rope chain.
Photo by Fjewellery
What Are Gold-Plated Chains Made Of?
Gold-plated chains are made using a very thin layer of gold, which contains 0.05% gold or less. This is coated over the top of a base metal (either brass, copper or stainless steel). 18k gold-plated chains usually contain a mixture of 75% pure gold mixed with other metals for hardness and strength.
The two most common plating processes used to coat a base metal with gold include PVD and electroplating. PVD coating is where solid material is vaporised in a vacuum and coated onto a surface. Whilst electroplating is a process that involves placing the jewellery in a gold solution and passing an electrical current.
Are Gold-Plated Chains Real?
Yes, gold-plated chains are still real. Gold-plated jewellery still utilises gold, however, it is just a thinner layer of it. The only difference between solid gold chains and gold-plated chains is that gold-plated chains have a base layer and solid gold chains don’t.
How Do You Tell If A Gold Plated Chain Is Real?
One of the only ways to test if the gold on your gold-plated chains is real is if you use an acid test. You can buy a gold testing kit and do this test at home.
During the test, make a tiny scratch in the metal and drop acid to it and look for a reaction. If there is no reaction when in contact with nitric acid then it is real gold. Often if the jewellery is gold plate over a brass metal, the acid will produce a green colour. A milk colour indicates gold plating over a sterling silver base.
How Do You Tell If A Gold Chain Has Been Plated?
Check hallmark stamps:
One of the best ways to check if a chain has been gold plated, is to look for gold plated hallmarks. These include:
- GP (gold plated)
- GEP (gold electroplated)
- RGP - (rolled gold plated)
- HGE - -(heavy gold electroplate)
- However, if your gold-plated chain doesn’t have these don’t worry. These are not a requirement for gold-plated pieces. If your gold chain doesn’t have an initial stamp you can assume that it is gold-plated.
Not all gold plated jewellery has this hallmark as it isn't required, so don't worry if yours doesn't!
If your gold chain is magnetic, then it is probably gold-plated. However, this is not always the case. If the base metal of the gold-plated chain is not magnetic then it won’t pass this test.
Solid gold chains will not respond to magnets, however in the rare occasion when solid gold chains contain small amounts of alloys, they can still be magnetic.
This is one way to test if your chain is gold-plated, however, should be used alongside other tests.
Often when a jewellery piece is plated with gold, it will take a more yellow hue. Solid gold chains are mixed with other metals for added durability and don’t appear as yellow
The best way to test if your gold chain is plated is by using an acid test.
For this test, make a tiny scratch in the metal and drop acid to it and look for a reaction. Solid gold jewellery will not react to nitric acid. However gold plated jewellery will. If the gold plating is over a brass or copper metal, it will react to produce a green colour. A more milky colour indicates plating over a sterling silver base.
If you don’t want to damage your jewellery, this test is not recommended. For this, you will need to rub your jewellery across a porcelain tile or unglazed ceramic plate and look a the colour of the streak. A real gold-plated chain will leave a gold or yellow streak, and a fake gold item will leave a black streak. Both solid gold and gold-plated chains should leave a yellow streak behind, however, this is a good way to determine if your gold-plated chains actually use real gold.
For this test, fill a glass with clean water and drop your gold chain into it. If it sinks immediately, it is likely made from solid gold. However, if it floats, it is probably a fake gold chain.
This test is not good for distinguishing between gold-plated and solid gold chains as gold-plated chains can also contain heavy base metals that allow them to sink.
Are Gold-Plated Chains Worth Anything?
No, gold-plated jewellery is less valuable than solid gold pieces. Because the layer of gold is so thin, there are only a few microns of gold present in the plating.
Do Gold-Plated Chains Tarnish?
Yes, anything that is plated with metal will eventually tarnish over time due to wear and tear. This is because gold-plated chains consist of a base layer thinly coated with gold plating. Higher karats of gold-plated chains tend to reach a tarnished state faster as the gold is softer. This makes them less ideal for gold plating.
How Much Is A Gold Plated Chain?
The price of your gold plated jewellery entirely depends on the amount of gold that is used. A general rule is that bonded gold jewellery is almost always cheaper than gold filled jewellery. If you are looking for a piece that will retain its value, then you should opt for solid gold chains.
Gold Plated Anubis Necklace by Sky Austria
How Long Do Gold Plated Chains Last?
How long your gold plated chains last will depend on how thick the plating is, quality of the jewellery and the base metal it is on top of. With all gold plated chains, fading naturally occurs due to rough exposure from day to day wear and tear.
The average lifespan for gold-plated pieces is two years, however high quality gold plated chains can last up to five years and even more! With proper care your gold plated chains can last a long time.
If your gold plated chains do start to tarnish, you can have them replated. However, because gold plated jewellery is affordable, it's worth just getting a new piece as a whole.
Do Gold Plated Chains Turn Green?
Inevitable wear of the gold plating over the base metal is expected however the process of chains turning green or leaving green marks on your neck depends on the base metal material of your gold plated chains.
Gold plated chains that have a brass or copper base metal will cause green discoloration of the skin when in contact with sweat and oils from the skin.
A great solution for this problem is to buy gold plated jewellery that has a stainless steel base material. This is because stainless steel is resistant to tarnishing and oxidising.
Photo by Bellatory
Do Gold Plated Chains Fade?
Any chain that is plated will eventually fade as the layer material used is often thin. When exposed to wear and tear it will start to loose its shininess.
However gold plating on stainless steel base materials seems to be long lasting, with it lasting up to 2 years before the gold plating tarnishes and wears down.
It goes back to how often you wear it and the frequency of contact your chain has to the outside world and the elements.
Photo by Quick Jewellery Repairs
Can You Shower With A Gold Plated Chain?
Yes, you can shower with gold plated chains, and they are able to withstand occasional showers and water. However we don't recommend exposing your gold plated chains to moisture often if you are looking to maximize the life span of your plated piece.
Water contact overtime can cause the gold layer to wear off, exposing the base metal of the chain.
However personally we wear all Sky Austria's pendants and chains in the shower and they have lasted me years.
Where Can You Buy Gold Plated Chains?
There are plenty of great places to buy gold plated chains online, of course we have to recommend our chains as they have been tested by ourselves to be long lasting, non tarnishing and super durable for wear on a daily.
What more, at Sky Austria we even have a range of gold plated pendants including our original Anubis and Katana pendant designs that you can pair with our gold plated chains to elevate your outfit even more.
Learn more about chain necklaces including what they are, the different types, sizing and more by reading our necklace chain guide.