What Is Gold-Plated Jewelry?

What Is Gold-Plated Jewelry?

A gold-plated piece of jewelry is one that has a coating of gold on top of a metal piece. In contrast to solid gold jewelry, gold-plated jewelry is much more affordable because it only has a thin layer of gold to give the appearance of it being solid gold. 


As a result, it will age faster and have a greater risk of breaking. Gold-plated jewelry would be affordable and look just as beautiful as a solid gold piece if you wanted to wear it for an evening out.

Characteristics Of Gold-Plated Jewelry

Type of Gold

There is a wide range of quality that gold-plated jewelry offers. The first variation in quality depends on the type of gold used. Gold quality, or purity, is measured in Karats. 


The purest gold available is 24 Karats. But 24 Karat gold is never used in jewelry because it is too soft, and the color is too bright. So, the gold is usually mixed with other metals such as copper, silver, nickel, or zinc. 


Gold that is 18K has 75% gold and 10K has 41.7% gold. The higher the Karat, the more gold, the more expensive it is, and the softer it is. 


A good choice for gold plating is 10K gold because it is the most durable. However, the color is often very pale, and it is most likely to trigger allergies if nickel or zinc is used in the gold because 10K gold has the highest percentage of these other metals. 


The amount of gold in a gold-plated piece is minuscule, therefore a high Karat value doesn’t make much of a difference in cost or resale value, so 10K or 14K is fine for gold plating.

Thickness Of Gold

The thickness of gold on gold-plated jewelry ranges from .17 to 2.5 microns. This means that there is a very small amount of gold in gold-plated jewelry. 


While the maximum thickness contains a lot more than the minimum thickness, they are both very small amounts. However, it does make a difference in durability. The thin layers will rub off faster. The gold layer will fade away, exposing more of the metal underneath. 

While gold doesn’t rust or corrode, these other metals do. If the gold starts to rub off, you will see rust or tarnish from the base metal of the jewelry. 

A thicker plating is better, not because there is slightly more valuable gold, but because it will last longer than a thin layer.

Base Metal

Gold plating can be put on top of all kinds of metals. Copper, silver, nickel, or zinc are the most common. Gold plating on top of high-quality sterling silver would be a very valuable piece of jewelry because both the gold and the silver are valuable, hypoallergenic metals. 


Many people are allergic to nickel, which is not as precious of a metal as silver. As the gold plating wears away, the nickel can be exposed and cause a rash on the wearer. The quality of the base metal affects the quality of a gold-plated piece.

Type Of Plating

Electroplating uses chemicals and an electrical current to bond the gold to the base metal. Plating without using electricity just uses chemicals and the bond created isn’t as strong as with electroplating.

Hallmarks

Jewelry is sometimes stamped with a “hallmark,” which helps the consumer tell the quality of the piece. 


Stamps such as GP (gold plated) GEP (gold electroplated), HGE (thick gold electroplated), or HGP (thick gold plated) help you to determine if you are looking at quality gold-plated jewelry.

Conclusion

If you are shopping for gold jewelry and come across gold plated jewelry, it is still considered real gold but it is not solid gold. Because of this the price will be much lower and the piece of jewelry will be more likely to break. 


But if looks are all you care about, then gold plated jewelry is a great option for those who just want to wear jewelry that looks like solid gold.


At Luvari, our jewelry experts can guide you to find the best gold or gold-plated jewelry for your specific needs. Call or visit our website today.