If you're shopping around for gold jewelry, you'll likely encounter some terminology you may not be used to. You might see rings, necklaces, or bracelets described as gold-filled, gold-plated, or gold-vermeil. How can you distinguish the best gold jewelry from the rest?
Keep reading to discover 12 must-know facts about plated gold and the types of gold. Then, we'll show you how you can purchase gold jewelry that upgrades your look.
1. What Is Plated Gold?
Knowing how to identify different types of gold jewelry can help you know what to look for in new pieces. In the case of plated gold, there are a few differences between this kind of gold and pure gold that are worth noting.
Plated gold is a type of jewelry where a jewelry maker bonds a thin layer of gold to a base metal material. They use a process called electroplating to create this fine layer. The process of electroplating a metal with gold began in 1805 when an Italian Chemist named Luigi Brugnatelli struck a new type of gold with this chemical inspiration.
A piece of plated gold jewelry looks similar to solid gold pieces in every way, but it's far less expensive and contains a strong base metal. Many people prefer this type of jewelry when picking out fashion jewelry.
2. How Does the Electroplating Process Work?
The plating process for bonding a layer of gold onto metal is rather impressive. First, a piece of metal must have its impurities removed and be thoroughly cleaned. Oil and dirt can interrupt the plating process and produce inferior jewelry. Because of this, the standard is to use an ultrasonic steam cleaner.
Next, the plating process involves a very thin layer of nickel plated on top of the base metal. Since nickel is durable, it helps strengthen the piece of jewelry.
To get the top layer of gold, jewelers dip the piece of jewelry in liquid gold and fuse it to the base metal with a positive electrical charge. The electric current bonds the gold to the base, creating an electroplated masterpiece.
3. Can Any Metal Be Gold-Plated?
Most metals provide a suitable base for gold-plated jewelry. A few common materials for gold-plated jewelry are nickel, brass, copper, silver, tungsten, and stainless steel.
4. What Is Pure Gold?
We've discussed that pure gold differs from electroplated gold, but what's the primary difference? To tell real gold apart from electroplated gold, you'd identify the amount of gold present in a piece of jewelry. If the gold content is 99.99%, it's pure gold.
5. How Thick Is Gold-plated Jewelry?
There's a standard for creating electroplated gold jewelry. The gold layer must be between .17 to 2.5 microns thick on pieces containing gold electroplating.
Pieces with a thinner layer of gold may wear and tear quickly, but many pieces closer to the 2.5 microns range are durable for many everyday activities.
6. Will Gold-Plated Jewelry Tarnish?
Whenever you buy new jewelry, you're excited to wear it for a long time. The biggest let-down is discovering that the jewelry you were excited to wear has begun to tarnish or fade.
The truth is that some kinds of gold-plated jewelry are prone to tarnishing. Although the gold layer is less likely to tarnish, the base metal underneath may tarnish if it is exposed to oxidation.
Although this is a downside for some kinds of gold-plated jewelry, it doesn't mean you have to avoid gold-plated pieces altogether. Instead, prioritize gold-plated jewelry with high-quality materials that can withstand your daily activities.
7. What Is Gold-Plated Jewelry Worth?
When you're dealing with jewelry made exclusively with precious metals, you'll likely expect to pay more. Because the layer of gold on electroplated pieces is relatively thin, you're likely to pay significantly less for gold-plated jewelry than for solid gold jewelry.
8. How Long Does Gold-Plated Jewelry Last?
In cheaply-made plated gold jewelry, sometimes the gold layer may begin to flake off over time as it is exposed to everyday wear and tear. If you want your gold-plated jewelry to last, buy from a jewelry maker who uses materials that can help make pieces durable against fading, tarnishing, flaking, and more.
If you've bought cheap plated gold jewelry that is beginning to show signs of wear and tear, it may be time to replace your pieces with more substantial jewelry.
9. Is Gold-Plating Hypo-Allergenic?
When a piece of jewelry is hypoallergenic, it is unlikely to provoke an allergic reaction. Many people who seek out hypoallergenic pieces do so because they have a sensitivity to base metals such as nickel, cobalt, and zinc.
Whether or not a piece of gold-plated jewelry is hypoallergenic depends on the base metal used in creating the jewelry. If the piece was made with silver, it's unlikely to cause a reaction. But nickel or zinc as the base metal may cause sensitivity.
10. How Do You Care for Gold-Plated Pieces?
If you already have gold-plated jewelry, you may be wondering how you can keep it safe from chipping or tarnishing.
There are a few ways you can maintain the quality of your jewelry to enjoy it for longer:
- Wash your hands. Whenever you're going to touch your plated gold pieces, ensure you have clean hands. This can help you avoid dirt and oil breaking down the gold plating.
- Store your jewelry. After you've worn your gold-plated pieces for the day, you'll want to keep them somewhere safe from chemicals, dirt, oil, or makeup. These can wear on your jewelry, especially if your pieces are exposed for an extended period.
- Don't swim with plated gold. Cheap plated gold will begin to rust and tarnish when exposed to chlorination.
11. Common Gold Hallmarks on Jewelry
Want to know what kind of gold your jewelry is? Whether you're buying an antique jewelry piece or you want to determine the value of a hand-me-down, knowing a few hallmarks can help:
- GP: Gold-plated
- GEP: Gold electroplate
- HGE: Heavy gold electroplate
- HGP: Heavy gold plate
- 999: Pure gold
- 750: 18-karat gold
- 585: 14-karat gold
12. Is There Such Thing as High-Quality Plated Gold?
Not all electroplated gold jewelry is equal. While gold-plated jewelry is a more affordable alternative to gold, that doesn't mean it has to be cheap.
If you like the idea of gold plating around a solid base metal, you don't have to settle for pieces that tarnish and fade quickly. At CRAFTD, we make it our aim to craft high-quality 18-karat plated gold pieces that stand up to the test of time.
All our pieces are waterproof, sweatproof, and heatproof so that you can wear them all day. Of course, taking special care can ensure they look phenomenal for longer, but you don't have to worry about CRAFTD jewelry breaking or fading. Each piece is crafted to last.
Seven Essential Pieces of CRAFTD Gold Jewelry
Ready to stock your collection with more gold jewelry? You're in the right spot.
Here are seven essential pieces that can add value to your jewelry and upgrade your everyday appearance:
The CRAFTD Cuban Chain
Everyone could use a reliable gold chain in their jewelry collection. Our CRAFTD Cuban chain features mid-weight links that will add character to your wardrobe like no other. This classic style is a go-to you'll want to wear repeatedly. Wear it in your preference of gold or silver.
The CRAFTD Rope Ring
Need to add more rings to your collection? If you don't know where to start, our CRAFTD Rope ring is a safe bet. This ring features twisted rope engraved around the band to give your clothing a rugged, textured accent. Dress it up or dress it down as it accompanies you on every adventure.
The CRAFTD Snake Bracelet
If you want to keep stocking up on the essentials, our CRAFTD Snake bracelet is another terrific staple piece. Wear this low-key accessory whenever you want to add a flare of sophistication to your fit.
The CRAFTD Vitruvian Ring
Statement rings can help you express your style and values to the world without ever physically speaking a word. Our CRAFTD Vitruvian ring adds aesthetic value and symbolizes your limitless potential. Wear it in your preference of 18-karat plated gold or high-quality 316L stainless steel.
The CRAFTD Wing Earring
Ready to get into expressive earrings?
Our CRAFTD Wing earring is a terrific piece to add to your fit when you want to make a stronger impression. Wear it alone, or pair it with your favorite CRAFTD pendants and chains.
The CRAFTD Connell Chain
Not everyone has to make a bold splash with their jewelry all the time. Sometimes, less is more.
Our CRAFTD Connel chain is perfect for the gentleman who wants to accent his clothing without adding too much. It's the perfect subtle addition to any type of clothing.
Wear High-Quality Everyday Jewelry
You don't have to spend an arm and a leg to get gold jewelry that's worth its salt. At CRAFTD, we use superior craftsmanship to create 18-karat plated gold and premium 316L stainless steel pieces. That means you can wear them virtually anywhere without feeling anxious about whether they will begin to lose quality.
Our pieces can withstand anything life throws your way. So go ahead and wear your gold-plated pieces to your nights out on the town and your Monday morning meetings. You'll look stunning either way.
What Does Hypoallergenic Mean? | Health with Elle - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Electroplating | Chemistry LibreTexts
Brugnatelli, Luigi Valentino | Museo per la storia dell'Università
13 Things You Need to Know About Gold Plating | Jewelry Guide