Difference in the Details: Gold Plated vs. Gold Filled
Did you know gold-filled jewelry has 100x more layers of gold than than a gold-plated piece?
That means gold-filled jewelry lasts longer and stands up to wear & tear better than gold plated, making it an affordable alternative to solid gold. With proper care, gold-filled jewelry can still last up to 30 years with proper care.
It's also common for people to be allergic to the base metal used in most fashion jewelry (myself included!) which is why I've gravitated toward gold-plated and sterling silver jewelry.
Here's a breakdown on how they differ:
Gold-plated: A base metal such as steel or brass is dipped into a bath of electroplating solution, with a lump of solid gold. When an electric current is applied, a thin layer of gold is deposited on the metal. Since the plating is quite thin, the plate (and hence the color) on findings can wear off.
Sterling Silver: is a mixture of pure silver and some other metal, usually copper. The resulting alloy gives the silver strength. The standard is at least 92.5% silver. Hence the .925 stamp you see on some sterling silver items.
Vermeil: (Pronounced: Vermay) is sterling silver that has been gold-plated. Most of our vermeil is plated with 22K-24K gold. This is a good combination for those with allergy to normal, plated jewelry items. The difference between vermeil, and gold-filled, is in the thickness of the gold and the base metal used. In vermeil, the base is sterling silver.
Gold-filled: also called rolled-gold. These jewelry items are not actually filled with gold. They are made of a base metal (usually brass or copper) covered by sheets of gold in a mechanical bonding process. Effectively a thick coat of gold: the gold content is 5% or 1/20 of the total weight. Use gold-filled items for your top-of-the-line jewelry. Usually made with 14k gold, it is hard wearing. With reasonable care it will not peel or flake, and should last as long as solid 14k gold jewelry. It is safe for most people with sensitive skin
Gold jewelry reacts with chlorine. Never take your gold jewelry into a pool or spa.
Allergies: Some people have allergic reactions to some plating.
The most common is nickel-plating- possibly up to 10% of people react to nickel. Unfortunately nickel is used to color gold, as an alloy, and sometimes in the electroplating process. If allergy is a problem, most jewelry makers like to use surgical steel, sterling silver, vermeil, or gold-filled items. The plating on plain electroplated items is usually too thin. A product called "Jewelry Shield" by Newall, which comes from the USA, claims to provide protection for jewelry allergy suffers.
Gold Purity – Karats: The karat is a very old measure of how much gold is in an alloy, or gold-blend. A measure of 1 Karat is where there is 1 part of pure gold and 23 parts of metal alloy - or 4% gold. So 24K is 100% pure gold. 9K is 37%, 14K is 58%, 18K is 75%.