There are so many types of gold jewellery available, which can be very confusing and frustrating when you’re shopping. If you've ever wondered what the difference between gold plated, gold vermeil, gold filled jewellery is, you're not alone.
Here at ÉCLATER JEWELLERY, we are committed to handcrafting jewelleries that it is perfect for everyday wear and is safe for sensitive skin. Because of this we wanted to explain the differences between the types of fashion gold jewellery available: Gold-Plated, Gold Vermeil, and Gold-Filled
A base metal like brass or copper is used to make gold plated jewellery. Once the base metal is rinsed, cleaned, and shaped, a nickel layer is attached to work as a “buffer” between the gold plating and the metal base. In the last phase, electroplating is used to deliver the nickel-plated base into a gold plating tank.
The plating, however, doesn’t compose any quantifiable proportion of the jewellery’s total weight. In fact, the total amount of gold a plated item usually has is under 0.05% of the overall weight of the product. In terms of durability, gold plating generally wears off quickly and can’t stand up to wear, water, or heat over time.
Gold filled jewellery contains an actual layer of gold that’s “pressure bonded” to a core metal using pressure and heat. Unlike electroplated (dipped or plated) metals, gold filled pieces legally need to feature 1/20 or 5% of gold by weight. In terms of karat, the gold layer on the jewellery is 10k or higher.
Gold filled pieces are much thicker than gold plated ones, but still can’t beat solid gold. The base metal for this type of jewellery can be silver, copper or brass. Because gold filling is much more intense and consumes gold in a higher quantity, the price tag of gold filled jewellery is often higher than that of gold plated pieces.
Gold vermeil jewellery is the highest standard when it comes to gold plated jewellery. It is in the same family as gold plated jewellery because it uses a similar process in which the base metal is dipped into a bath of electroplating solution. The difference is that it is dipped for a longer period of time, creating a thicker layer of gold plating. The base metal, which is typically sterling silver, needs to have at least two microns of gold plating thickness in order to classify as gold vermeil. Jewellery that is listed as being plated with gold vermeil should hold its plating for years if the wearer takes proper care of that piece.
What’s the Best for You?
The best type of gold jewellery suited for you depends on a number of factors, such as your budget, how often you wear your jewellery, whether you’ll be able to take good care of it, and more. We love gold filled and gold vermeil because they're both affordable, yet high quality enough for everyday wear. Here’s a chart that summarizes each type of gold jewellery.
When debating over whether to buy gold plated or gold filled jewellery, take the following factors into account.
Because of the thin layer of gold that wears off after a while, gold plated jewellery will begin to tarnish once the base metal is exposed. Gold filled jewellery, on the other hand, will only tarnish under unique circumstances. Pure gold pieces barely tarnish, and even though they’re an alloy, the heavy layer on gold filled jewellery protects against tarnishing. We recommend that wearers clean gold filled pieces with mild soapy water or untreated cloth. For gold plated jewellery, clean only if it’s an absolute necessity. Use a cotton ball for the purpose, and avoid scrubbing your gold items.
It’s also important to have an idea about the sensitivity of your skin before you invest in a gold filled or gold plated piece. Are you allergic to metals like copper, rhodium, silver or brass? If that’s the case, you might want to buy a gold filled jewellery piece as you won’t need to worry about any allergic response. We say this because gold plating may comprise cheaper raw materials that can trigger an allergic reaction in your skin, causing oxidation and irritation down the road. You won’t have this problem with gold filled alternatives.
As we stated earlier, gold filled jewellery is more resistant to wear and tear than gold plated items due to the thicker layer of the alloy. However, the overall longevity of both is dependent on the environment, quality of the jewellery, and exposure to wear. As long as gold filled pieces are well cared for, they can last a lifetime. Gold plated pieces, on the other hand, can last up to a year if kept away from water, wear, and heat. It’s also worth mentioning that gold filled pieces with lower karat weight (9-14k) may be more durable than pieces with greater gold content.
Gold filled pieces tend to be on the higher end of the cost spectrum while gold plated jewellery is more affordable as it only has a thin layer of gold to deliver the “appearance of gold.” That’s the reason why most fashion jewellery pieces are gold plated—they can be priced lower and appeal to a broader customer base.