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March 23, 2021 5 min read

Gold is timeless and has been used to adorn everything for centuries. Gold is beautiful yet expensive, so over time and we’ve figured out how to give objects that gold finish without using real gold. 

Buying jewelry online, you’ll see descriptions like “gold tone” that lets you know that it’s been manufactured to look like gold, but it’s not the real thing (if the low price hadn’t already given that away).

While jewelry made to look like gold is fine for short-term wear (known as costume jewelry), people would rather have real gold for everyday pieces and keepsakes.

What are you getting when you purchase a piece of jewelry that’s described as “real” gold? To understand the quality of what you have, you should know the difference between gold filled vs gold plated.

Because our jewelry is meant to be worn daily, we use precious metals to make our pieces. If you’ve ever wondered about the difference between gold filled and gold plated, you’ve come to the right place!

Is Gold Filled and Gold Plated the Same Thing?

Gold-filled and gold plated jewelry are indeed two separate things. How gold-filled vs gold plated pieces are created is the difference. 

Does it matter which kind of gold jewelry you get? Well, let’s compare!

Gold Plated

Gold-plated jewelry has an outer layer of gold (under 0.05% of the overall composition). The layer is affixed by electroplating where cat-ions are dissolved to coat the jewelry with a thin coat of gold (14K, 18K,, or 24K gold)

At the core of the jewelry piece is a cheaper base metal such as brass or copper. Once the base metal has taken shape, a layer of nickel coats the entire piece. The gold-plating is the final layer and bonds to the nickel. 

After some wear, water, or heat, the gold plated layer begins to rub off, revealing the nickel layer underneath.

Gold Filled

With gold-filled jewelry, 2-3 layers of gold (about 1/20 or 5% of the total weight) is bonded to the core metal using pressure and heat. The gold coating of 10K or higher wraps around the base metal of copper, brass, or even silver.

Which is Better Gold Filled or Gold Plated?

Gold-filled jewelry contains a more substantial amount of gold alloy than gold plated pieces. Because it features a thicker coat of gold, the gold-filled jewelry better maintains its quality as it tends to stand up to wear and tear compared to a gold plated piece. Typically, a single scratch to a gold-plated piece causes the core metal to show through. 

While gold-plated jewelry may have a smaller price tag, you can expect the gold coat to wear off the longer you wear it. You have the option to replate gold-plated jewelry, but with gold-filled jewelry, no refinishing is needed.

Gold-filled jewelry is better suited for daily wear. Sometimes you’ll find a gold-plated piece that’s exactly the style you’re looking for. You can still enjoy these pieces but just keep in mind that they are vulnerable to damage and should be worn sparingly and in situations where they won’t get scratched.

Difference Between Gold Filled and Gold Plated

As mentioned above, the key difference between gold filled vs gold plated is how each is made. How something is made determines its level of quality. We’ll go over the main aspects of quality differences between gold filled and gold plated.

Metal Durability

Because gold is a malleable material, it has low impact resistance. With a gold-plated piece, you have a very thin layer of gold which is prone to flaking or scratching, so it’s just not up to the task of daily wear. Water has an erosive effect on gold-plated jewelry so you risk damaging a gold-plated ring when you bathe, swim, shower, or wash your hands while wearing it.

However, a gold filled ring has several layers of real gold so if it does scratch or chip, you barely notice because it blends with the gold underneath versus showing the contrasting core metal. Because a gold-filled ring has a thicker enamel, it’s usually okay for daily wear.

This doesn’t mean that a gold-filled ring is guaranteed to damage or that a gold-filled ring will stand up to any abuse. How you care for either determines how long it lasts. When evaluating gold filled vs gold plated for durability, you can expect a gold-plated ring to last about a year or a gold filled ring to last many years if you treat them well.

Tarnishing

Although rare, gold filled or gold plated jewelry may become tarnished. This sometimes happens if a piece of jewelry has been set aside for a long time. To protect jewelry while stored, it’s best to place the piece in a protective pouch that keeps it separate from other jewelry and place it in a moisture-free compartment (you might add a silica gel packet).

Because our jewelry is gold filled, it’s highly unlikely that it will tarnish. We’ve worn gold filled pieces to the beach on several occasions and had no issues with tarnishing.

Amount of Gold

If you buy a piece of jewelry described as containing gold, you know you’re gettingsomegold, but how much?

In order for a piece of jewelry to qualify as being gold-filled, its weight must be at least 5% gold, so when you purchase gold filled jewelry you have a good idea of how much gold it has. 

On the other hand, gold-plated jewelry is a wildcard. There is no percentage of gold it must have to be presented as gold-plated. Some pieces may not have any gold at all, but a metal that looks like gold.

How Do You Know if it is Really Gold Filled vs Gold Plated?

As you would with solid gold jewelry, you can confirm its composition by looking for a stamp from the manufacturer. Along with the amount of karat (10, 18, 24, etc), it includes letters that indicate how the manufacturer affixed the gold to the base metal.

  • GF- gold filled
  • GP- gold plated
  • GEP- gold electroplated
  • RGP- rolled gold plate
  • HGP- heavy gold electroplate

Be sure to read the fine print when shopping for jewelry. Some will use gold plated and gold filled interchangeably which might end up misrepresenting the product. 

If you’re ever in doubt about what you’ve purchased, you can take it to a professional jeweler or shop with jewelry appraising capabilities to verify. 

One way is to apply acid to one spot on the jewelry. If it’s merely gold-plated, the coat will be eaten away instantly. Another method is to use a machine that tests the thickness of the gold layer. This would confirm if something is gold filled.

Shop Gold Filled at Mountain Moverz

A bracelet, ring, or necklace that is meant to be a daily reminder of who you are and how far you’ve come should stand up to daily wear. That’s why we chose gold filled over gold plated.

The Mountain Moverz jewelry collection was created for women and children with active lifestyles. We chose gold filled over gold plated because we wanted you to be able to wear these meaningful pieces every day and hold onto them for life as keepsakes.

Because our handcrafted jewelry is all gold filled we can engrave them with sentimental messages. Take ourrose gold engraved bracelet. It’s one of several pieces that bear any words you wish for the wearer to hold close to their heart.

Looking for jewelry you can wear every day rather than every once in a while? Let the next addition to your personal collection be for keeps. Shop our line ofminimalist jewelry now!

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