Many of us have heard of gold plated jewelry and to most of us, gold filled is an unknown term. We’ve provided some info below on what each term means to help you make an informed decision when buying a new piece of jewelry!
Is Gold Plated + Gold Filled the same thing?
No. While gold plating and gold filled are both similar in that they each have a layer of gold over a brass centre, the amount of gold used on gold filled is very different to the amount used on gold plated. The layer of gold on gold plated jewelry is actually quite minuscule - it is a flash amount of gold that can peel or flake off quite easily. In fact, just one little scratch can expose the brass underneath.
Gold filled has 100x more gold that gold plated - which is actually 5% of its weight. The means gold filled jewelry lasts longer and will withstand wear and tear that gold plated can’t.
The manufacturing process is very different as well. Gold plating is made by using an electric current to negatively charge the inner brass metal and positively change a solution that contains gold ions. The positive gold ions become attracted to the negative charge of the brass, which forms a layer or gold on top of the brass core.
To make gold filled, the brass core is “sandwiched” between two layers of gold. It is heated and passed several times through a roller. This bonds the metal together.
Do they tarnish?
Pure gold does not tarnish - it’s the brass core that causes tarnishing. Therefore, the thickness of the gold layer will affect a piece’s chances of tarnishing.
Because of its thin layer of gold, which can easily wear off, gold plated jewelry can tarnish when the core metal becomes exposed.
Because of its thick bonded layer of gold, gold filled jewelry rarely tarnishes.
Gold filled jewelry is much more durable than gold plated jewelry because of the thicker layer of gold. As long as gold filled is taken care of, it can last a lifetime. Gold plated jewelry is not very durable and cannot stand much water, heat or wear.
Clean gold plated jewelry only if you absolutely must. Use a very soft cloth - do not scrub. The best way to clean gold filled jewelry is with mild soapy water or an untreated cloth. Do not scrub to prevent scratching (which would lead to tarnishing).
Because gold plated jewelry only has a minuscule amount of gold on a base layer of brass, the price is quite affordable. Gold filled jewelry is more expensive as it has a measurable amount of gold, with a significantly higher quality manufacturing process. Gold filled is a great alternative to solid gold.
If you are looking for a piece of jewelry that you want to last, that you can wear on a daily basis - gold filled is the clear winner. When shopping for meaningful jewelry, such as for birthdays, wedding gifts or anniversaries, gold filled will last for decades when cared for correctly at a fraction of the cost of solid gold.