Solid Gold jewelry, Gold Plated and Gold Filled | Jewelry Blog
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The Difference between Solid Gold jewelry, Gold Plated and Gold Filled

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If you happened to purchase gold jewelry lately, you have probably noticed the different types of gold that are being sold at the stores. More specifically, these various types can be narrowed down to three: solid gold, gold plated and gold filled; the differences between the three are also manifested in the price. What are the differences between these types of gold jewelry and how can you tell them apart? This article will talk about each of the three types and the ways to differentiate between them.

Solid Gold

True solid gold is made up of pure gold – just gold metal and nothing else. Understandably, it is the highest standard of gold and also the most expensive; it does not tarnish and will keep its value for generations. Solid gold that is made of pure gold is also known as 24 karat gold – the highest possible weight for gold. However, jewelry made of pure solid gold is very rare, as pure gold is very soft, certainly too soft for wearing every day. Therefore, solid gold is usually alloyed with another metal (such as silver, copper, zinc or nickel) in order to make it more sturdy and resilient; these gold alloys vary in their karat weights – they usually range between 14-22 karats. The higher the weight, the longer the lifespan of the gold; if it's pure, its lifespan is basically forever.

Gold Filled

The next level of gold, which has the advantages of looking very similar to solid gold,  being less expensive than solid gold and still very durable, is gold fill. Gold filled jewelry is made by using a metal base (the metal usually being sterling silver or brass) and bonding a layer of gold onto it, using high heat and pressure. The resulting gold jewelry has the appearance of high quality gold but costs much less. While the downside of gold filled jewelry is that over time, it doesn't wear as well as solid gold (its lifespan is 5 to 30 years), it still is very resistant and does flake off, rub off or cause allergic reactions.

Gold Plated

Gold plated jewelry is also made of another metal coated with a layer of gold, however, that layer is typically 100 times thinner than the layer used in gold filled jewelry – about 1/000-3/1000 of an inch in width. Therefore, the gold can rub and flake off quite easily, exposing a dull metal color. Gold plating is done by placing the base metal into a solution that contains gold and electrically charging it. This makes the gold attach to the base metal. Gold plated jewelry is considered to be low-quality, certainly in comparison with gold filled and solid gold jewelry. While the upside of gold plated jewelry is that it is the least expensive (sometime downright cheap) of the three, this comes with a very low lifespan (about 1 year), a tendency to rub or flake off, and the possibility of causing an allergic reaction to the skin.


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