Ever wonder what the difference is between gold-plated and gold-filled?

Posted on October 28, 2015 by Heather Kenealy

They sound the same, right? How different could they be? They even both have that little hyphen!

When you’re looking to purchase jewelry, the types of metals available can be confusing. And sometimes judging by the price doesn’t help either. Gold-plated and gold-filled are two of the most common types of jewelry out there, but they are very different.

Gold-plated means that another type of metal has been coated with a very thin, microscopic layer of gold. The outside of the metal has a film of pure gold overlaid by the process of electroplating. Gold-plated jewelry is generally more affordable and usually very strong. However, gold-plated items can tarnish, chip and flake. They don’t stand up to heat, water or wear over time.

The Technical Stuff for the curious… To create gold-plated jewelry, a base metal goes through a series of processes and is eventually dipped into a bath of electroplating solution which contains gold. When an electric current is applied, an electrochemical reaction occurs and a thin layer of gold is deposited onto the metal.

Gold-filled, believe it or not, means that there is almost 100% more gold than in a gold-plated item. Gold-filled is just a step down from pure gold. And although gold-filled items also have a layer of gold on the outside, the process is very different and the layer of gold is much thicker.

Gold-plated jewelry goes through a process of mechanically bonding and heating the gold to the other metal. The gold must be at least 5% of the overall item weight. Gold-filled jewelry is much more valuable and is safe for people with nickel allergies. It will not tarnish, chip or flake and is, therefore a very durable choice.

Now that you too know the differences in quality, price and value, you can make a more informed decision when it comes to a purchase!

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