Skip to content

Your Cart

Your cart is empty

Article: What Is Gold Plated Jewellery? Everything You Need To Know

What Is Gold Plated Jewellery? Everything You Need To Know

What Is Gold Plated Jewellery? Everything You Need To Know

What Is Gold Plated Jewellery? 

gold icarus pendant and 5mm cuban chain

Gold Icarus Pendant By Sky Austria

Gold-plated jewellery is any piece of jewellery that is made with metal and has another layer of metal on top, in this scenario that is a gold layer. The layer of gold on a plated jewellery piece is very thin and consists of 0.05% actual gold on top of the base metal, making it more affordable than solid gold options. In general, there is no minimum thickness that is required for gold plating, however, the Federal Trade Commission states that a coating must be at or more than 0.5 microns to be considered gold plated.

This makes gold-plated jewellery great for those who want expensive-looking jewellery but are on a budget. The base metal of any plated jewellery often consists of materials such as stainless steel, brass, copper and nickel.

Manufacturers achieve this gold plating through a process called electroplating, which covers the base metal with a layer of gold to create jewellery that looks exactly like gold but utilises less of it. 

The two main types of gold plating are PVD and normal plating. PVD plating is a vacuum coating process that produces a highly durable plating finish on the jewellery using titanium nitride. The jewellery base metal is dipped into a solution containing gold or gold-coloured alloy and an electrical current is passed through resulting in an electrochemical reaction that deposits a thin layer of gold outside of the base metal. Some of the benefits of vacuum coating are that it has higher durability, greater corrosion resistance to sweat and chlorine, is often thicker, can be cleaned and allows for different shades of gold to be created. In comparison, traditional gold plating which involves layering a thin layer of gold onto a base metal tends to work best on copper and silver bases. In general PVD plating is superior to regular plating as it permeates the surface better making it more resilient and resistant to fading. 

At Sky Austria we have an extensive range of gold plated jewellery pieces to choose from, including chains, pendants and bracelets. 

Is Gold-Plated Jewellery Any Good? (Pros and Cons)

gold plated jewellery

Gold Katana Pendant By Sky Austria

The most amazing aspect of gold-plated jewellery is that it can make an average and plain outfit look expensive, without actually being expensive. They are good because for the general population they are an affordable alternative to real gold jewellery. Some people may not want to commit to a full gold piece because of the price or fear of it getting stolen or broken. For gold-plated jewellery, prices range from £20 up to £100 depending on the style and type of  jewelry.

Nowadays it is very hard to tell whether jewellery is gold-plated or solid gold by its appearance, allowing people to wear a piece of jewellery that looks like a solid gold piece and giving them a chance to see if they like the look of gold and potentially commit to a solid gold jewellery piece in the future. 

Another benefit of gold-plated jewellery is its strength and durability. Often solid gold pieces of jewellery are soft, especially at higher karats. For example, 24k gold is too soft to make entire jewellery pieces from so it has to be alloyed with other metals or to be plated over to be strong enough to form the shape of the jewellery. For the gold-plated piece, because the layer of gold is so thin and usually this type of gold jewellery consists mostly of a base metal such as stainless steel or silver, gold-plated jewellery tends to be less malleable and makes for durable pieces that are great for everyday use. 

One drawback of gold-plated jewellery is that over time it will start to tarnish, no matter how well you look after it. Eventually, the thin gold layer will face and the base metal underneath will be visible causing the chain to become silvery. The reason for this is that base metals often transfer onto the thin layer of gold, causing it to break down. 

Another negative of gold-plated jewellery is that the plating can be scratched or chipped easily. The gold layer itself is not very durable and even the littlest of friction or abrasion can start to chip and fade the gold plating off.

Gold-plated jewellery also don’t make for great investments. Because of how minimal the amount of gold is used for gold plating the jewellery has far less value than a solid gold jewellery piece. As well over time once your gold plating fades you’ll have to buy another one and another one which in the long run can become more expensive than if you had bought a solid gold chain. 

Gold-plated jewellery also doesn't cop well with water. It is fine to go into the water once in a while however repeated exposure and immersion into water for long periods can cause the gold layer to completely wear off. 

In addition to this because the gold coating of a plated jewellery is so thin, the cost of refining or repairing it is higher than refining a solid gold jewellery piece so at that point you may as well get another piece. 

If you are looking for jewelery that has that expensive look but won’t break the bank, then gold plated jewellery is perfect for you. 


Does Gold Plated Jewellery Discolour/Tarnish? 

It is inevitable that gold-plated jewellery discolours over time. Because the layer of gold on a gold-plated piece is so thin, it can be easy to fade during daily wear. Some reasons this may happen is through exposure to chemicals in perfumes, lotions, hair care products, chemicals and pollutants in the air as well as exposure to water.

To prevent this handle your gold-plated jewellery with care and store it properly when it is not being worn. 


Does Gold-Plated Jewellery Go Green?

gold icarus pendant

Whether or not your gold-plated jewellery goes green is dependent on the base metal to which the gold plating is bound. Base metals such as brass, copper or nickel can react with the gold plating over time or once the base metals appear from the gold plating it can cause exposed skin to turn green. Even popular metals such as sterling silver can turn your skin green if it is mixed with copper even at percentages of less than 8.

A multitude of factors leads to the gold plating on these alloys turning your skin green including contact with humidity, skin oils and sweat. For these types of pieces, you’ll want to ensure that you don’t wear them on hot days as they could come into contact with sweat which can cause the metal to oxidise against the skin and lead to that green colour. 

You’ll also want to avoid going into the pool with gold-plated jewellery as chemicals such as chlorine can react to copper and produce that greenish tint on your skin. 

In general, you should also try taking a break when wearing these alloy jewellery pieces to give you skin a rest. 

At Sky Austria we use stainless steel as a base metal for our gold plated jewellery as it doesn’t tarnish, is hypoallergenic and doesn’t turn your skin green.


Does Gold Plated Jewellery Rust?

Similar to the experience of jewellery going green, rusting is determined by the base metal underneath the gold plating. The only metal responsible for rusting is iron. Alloy or metals that do not contain iron are not susceptible to rusting. As well, it is unlikely that you would fine a jewelry pieces made from iron anyways so most jewellery pieces you won’t need to worry about rusting. 

Can You Wear Gold Plated Jewellery In The Shower?

gold plated tennis bracelet and cuban bracelet 4mm Gold Tennis Bracelet and 5mm Gold Cuban Link Bracelet By Sky Austria

You can go into the shower with gold-plated jewellery but you’ll want to avoid doing this regularly. Because the outside layer of gold is so thin it is likely to wear off when in contact or submerged in water for long periods of time. This is especially true with hot water, which causes the gold metals to become softer and more likely to chip off, causing a faded appearance over time. 

Additionally, when showering you’ll want to avoid getting any soaps and shampoos as they could have harsh chemicals that if come into contact with your jewellery can cause it to have a faded look and build up residue on the surface that dulls the shine of the gold. Steam from the shower can also cause certain metals to tarnish and loosen their gemstone settings by softening up metals. 

The mixture of humidity and moisture from the shower can cause the base metal to tarnish. This occurs due to exposure to both oxygen and moisture which causes discolouration. This can cause the gold-plated layer to dull out. 

How To Clean Gold-Plated Jewellery?

In general gold-plated jewellery should be wiped with a damp cotton ball, bud or microfibre cloth to remove smudges, surface soil and sticky surfaces. You’ll also want to clean whenever your jewellery gets exposed to harmful chemicals such as chlorine, sulfur, and acids which can cause tarnishing. 

Some equipment / solutions you’ll need include:

  • Bowls
  • Microfiber cloth / Jewellery cloth
  • Cotton ball 
  • Cotton Swab 
  • Dishwashing liquid 
  • Warm water
  • Paper towel

If your gold plated jewellery is looks dull and lifeless use a damp cotton ball or jewellery cloth soaked in warm water to remove body oils and soils on the jewellery then take a paper towel and dry it off.

If your gold plated jewellery has dirt on it or feels sticky, it should be cleaned with warm soapy water. To create this just mix water with dishwashing liquid in a bowl. Let the jewellery sit in the solution for 10 minutes. Skip submerging your jewellery if it contains gemstone, pearls or enamel or has a base metal made from copper, brass or nickel. 

If your gold plated jewellery has embellishments on it, instead soak a cotton ball in the dishwashing liquid and water solution and gently clean the pieces. 

For more stubborn soil that is stuck on your gold plated jewellery use a cotton swab soaked in the dishwashing liquid and water mixture to remove the soil. 

After you clean your gold plated jewellery they should always be dried gently using a microfibre cloth or paper towels. 

Learn more ways you can clean your gold jewellery by reading our blog which covers how to clean gold plated jewellery

How To Look After Gold-Plated Jewellery?

If you are looking to keep your gold-plated jewellery lasting longer and shining brighter here are a few tips and things you should do:

  1. Remove the jewellery before you go into the shower 
  2. Remove the jewellery before you go into the swimming pool or into the ocean to avoid contact with chlorine or salt water that could fade the gold plating 
  3. Remove the jewllery before you put on any lotion, perfume or makeup so that chemicals dont come into contact with the gold layer.
  4. Remove the jewellery if you are going to come into contact with something abrasive (e.g  at the gym when using a barbell you’ll want to take off any rings.)
  5. Store your plated jewellery where it won’t rub against eachtoher, a soft velour bag for each piece of jewellery or a frosted pouch works great. 
  6. Ensure that you wipe your gold-plated jewellery after each use using a dry soft cloth or microfibre cloth to remove dirt and debris.

Learn more about gold-plated jewellery by reading our blog on gold plated chains

What's The Difference Between Gold Filled And Gold Plated Jewellery?

gold filled vs gold plated jewellery

The main differences between the two is the thickness of the gold layer. Gold-filled jewellery is characterise by multiple layers of gold wrapped around a base metal. Whilst gold plated jewellery features a thinner coating over a base metal. 

Gold-filled jewellery offers great durability, hypoallergenic properties and resembles closely real gold, however is more expensive. Whilst gold plated jewelleryis an affordable, yet elegant alternative to solid gold jewellery. 

To learn more about the pros, cons and differences between these two gold jewellery types, read our blog which compares gold filled vs gold plated jewellery

What's The Difference Between Gold Vermeil And Gold Plated Jewellery?

gold vermeil vs gold plated

Gold vermeil involves coating a sterling silver base with a thick layer of gold. Whilst gold plated jewellery refers to a thinner gold plating over a base metal which is usually brass or stainless steel. 

Gold vermeil has a great balance between affordability, durability and appearance of gold but is much more expensive. Gold plated jewellery looks exactly like gold, but is much more affordable option. 

Learn more about these two types of gold jewellery by reading our blog which covers gold vermeil vs gold plated jewellery

What's The Difference Between Gold Coated And Gold Plated Jewellery?

gold coated vs gold plated

Gold coated jewellery occurs through a process known as Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD), that offers a durable and even layer of gold on a base metal. Whilst gold plating utilises the method of electroplating for application. 

Gold coating offers a durable and even finish that is highly resistant to corrosion, heat and wear and tear. Gold plating utilises eletroplating, allowing for a thicker gold layer, however the end result may be more uneven and consistent. 

Want to learn more about these two popular types of gold jewellery? Read our blog which compares gold coated vs gold plated jewellery

What's The Difference Between Rhodium Plated vs Gold Plated Jewellery?

Rhodium is a metal that is part of the platinum family and is a great material for plating jewellery. Rhodium provides a dazzling, mirror-like silver shine when plated over jewellery. Rhodium can also be used to increase durability and tarnish resistance of jewellery. 

Gold plated jewellery brings the classic warmth and richness of gold to a variety of base metal. Gold plated jewellery comes in a variety of hues like rose and white gold. 

To learn more about rhodium and gold plated jewellery read our blog which compares rhodium vs gold plated jewellery


What's The Difference Between PVD Coated vs Gold Plated Jewellery?

PVD coated jewellery is made using a method gold is vaporized in a vacuum and deposited on the jewellery's surface creating a thin and even layer of gold. This method is known for its great durability, resistance to tarnishing and scratching. 

Gold plated jewellery involves electroplating a thin layer of gold onto a base metal. This method of application is much more affordable, however is less durable. 

Want to learn more about PVD coated vs gold plated jewellery? Read our blog which covers PVD coated vs gold plated jewellery

What's The Difference Between Gold Plated vs Solid Gold Jewellery?

gold plated vs solid gold

Solid gold jewellery is made entirely from gold or gold alloy and is measured in karats to indicate it's purity. Purities can range from 10K all the way up to 24K. The higher the karat of gold, the softer and less durable the gold is. 

Gold plated jewellery features a base metal like stainless steel or brass and is coated with a thin layer of gold. This layer of gold is usually less than 1 micron thick. 

Want to learn more about the pros and cons of these two types of gold jewellery? Read our blog which compares solid gold vs gold plated jewellery

14K Solid Gold vs 18K Gold Plated: Which Is Better?

14K solid gold jewellery has a 58.3% gold purity, giving it incredible durability, resistance to wear and make it greta for everyday jewellery pieces. It is also hypoallergenic and retains it's value over time. 

On the flip side, 18K gold plated jewellery offers a pure-gold like luster at a much more affordable price. But, because of the thin gold plating, this type of gold jewellery is more susceptible to wear and tear and requires more meticulous care to maintain it's shine.  

Find out more about 14K and 18K gold plated jewellery by reading our blog which compares 14K gold vs 18k gold plated jewellery

18K Solid Gold vs 18K Gold Plated: Which Is Better?

18K solid gold is known for it's 75% gold purity and offers a rich and vibrant colour. It is one of the most popular karat's of solid gold jewellery and is often used for engagement rings and luxury accessories. 

18K gold plated jewellery provides the same appearance as 18K solid gold, at a more accessible price point. 

18K solid gold has higher gold content, meaning it is a softer gold. This makes it more prone to scratches, but less likely to cause allergies due to fewer alloy metals. Whilst 18K gold plated jewellery is more susceptible to tarnishing and wearing off over time. 

Find out more about the pros, cons and differences of each of these gold jewellery types by reading our blog which compares 18K gold vs 18K gold plated jewellery

Gold Bonded vs Plated: What's The Difference?

gold bonded vs gold plated

Gold bonded jewellery is characterised by a 925 sterling silver base and a more substantial gold layer. This gold layer makes up to 5-10% of it's total weight. In contrast, gold plated jewellery features a thin gold layer achieved through electroplating. 

Because gold bonded jewellery has higher gold content, it has a higher value, greater durability and greater hypoallergenic jewellery. In comparison, gold plated jewellery has a lower gold content, making it more affordable but less durable. 

Learn more about gold bonded and plated jewellery by reading our blog which compares gold bonded vs plated jewellery

Gold Plated Brass vs Gold Plated Stainless Steel: What's The Difference?

gold plated brass vs gold plated stainless steel

Gold plated brass simply refers to gold plating over a brass base metal. Gold plated brass jewellery is known for it's affordability and light weight feel. But, the disadvantages include being more prone to tarnishing and corrosion. In addition to this, gold plated brass can also cause allergic reactions due to it's copper content. 

Gold plated stainless steel simply refers to gold plating over a stainless steel base metal. Gold plated stainless steel jewellery has great durability, scratch resistance and hypoallergenic qualities. Being hypoallergenic, it is a great choice for those with sensitive skin. 

To learn more about gold plated brass and gold plated stainless steel, read our blog which compares gold plating over brass vs stainless steel

Gold Plated Stainless Steel vs Gold Plated Sterling Silver: What's The Difference?

gold plated stainless steel bracelet

Gold plated stainless steel refers to gold plating over a stainless steel base. It offers great durability, resistance to denting and hypoallergenic properties. 

Gold plated sterling silver has a higher value due to the use of precious metals. It has a much more lightweight feel than gold plated over a stainless steel base. Sterling silver is also a softer base metal, allowing for greater versatility with designs. 

To learn more about gold plated stainless steel and sterling silver jewellery read our blog which covers gold plated stainless steel vs gold plated sterling silver.  

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

Gold tone jewellery is characterised by its gold coloured paint or finish, without the use of actual gold. Whilst gold plated jewellery involves coating a base metal like brass, stainless steel or sterling silver. 

Gold tone jewellery is extremely affordable, however lacks durability and authenticity. Whilst gold plated jewellery offers a more authentic appearance, is still affordable and is much more hypoallergenic. 

Want to learn more about gold tone and gold plated jewellery? Read our blog which covers gold tone vs gold plated jewellery

1 comment

I wonder what it means if I buy something that is written stainless steel as material and also 18k gold plated. Could you help?

Shreya Mondal

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Read more

gold box chain necklace

What Is A Box Chain? Everything You Need To Know

In this blog we go over what is a box chain, the different types of box chains, are box chains strong, are they good for pendants and do they pull on hairs.

Read more
silver cuban chain 5mm

What Is A Cuban Chain? The Ultimate Guide

In this blog we cover what is a Cuban chain, their costs, how to wear them, the ideal length for you, putting pendants on cuban chains, untangling cuban chains and more!

Read more