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Difference Between Gold and Gold Plated

Gold and gold-plated refer to jewelries that are made from pure gold or just gold coating. Both differ in gold content, value, quality, durability and price. 

 

What is gold-plated?

Perhaps the most popular variance of gold jewelry on the market, gold-plated offers a cheaper alternative to the most expensive solid-gold and gold-filled jewelries. The process termed electroplating is used to apply a thin film of gold on various types of metals to give it a goldish elegant appearance. In some gold-plated jewelries, a 24 karat gold may be used but it is still valueless as it is an immeasurable size. 

A gold-plated jewelry may chip off and get tarnished in a short period of time. It should not be worn while taking a bath or doing any task that can expose it to the harsh climatic conditions because it is susceptible to damages. There are many jewelries such as bracelets that are solely made of gold coatings. Gold-plated is not necessarily useless. It is helpful in certain occasions such as trending jewelry sets where durability is overcome by the elegant appearance. The materials are not suitable for everyday wear. 

Regarding durability, the gold-plated material may be durable but its coating will not be durable. Sometimes it may take just a simple finger swipe to remove the coating. 

Looking at the gold-plated and gold jewelry, it may be hard to notice the difference at a glance if you are not well-versed with gold. Oftentimes, gold-plated jewelry is much cheaper. However, it is possible for jewelers to con sellers by selling a gold-plated material with a cost of a gold-filled. In such cases, it is important to run tests such as the acid test or magnetic test. 

Acid test is the most effective and it will reveal the identity of the metal used. Gold is nonmagnetic, so if a jewelry gets attracted to the magnet, it could be a sign that it is not gold-filled. However, the magnetic test is not conclusive as there could be many flaws. For instance, other nonmagnetic metals may be used. A professional jeweler would be able to tell the difference between a sample of gold-plated and gold-filled materials.

 

What is gold/gold-filled material?

There is solid gold and gold-filled. In a nutshell, solid gold rates high in terms of quality, purity and price. It has the best shine and radiant color. However, pure gold is seldom used in jewelries due to its malleability and softness. Its jewelries will not last long for everyday despite being a high-value precious metal. 

To make gold more durable, it is mixed with other alloys. The karat, which is a measure of gold’s purity, decreases with the addition of alloys. The 24 karat is regarded as the highest measure of purity. As alloy is added, it may decrease to 14 karat. Nonetheless, it is still more valuable than the gold-filled and gold-plated materials. 

Gold-filled materials, on the other hand, are filled with a relatively larger gold content than the gold-plated ones. There could be a single layer of double layer covering the inner metal alloy. There could be 20% or 50% of gold content in a typical gold-filled material. While the gold-filled is inferior to a solid gold, it contains the same properties and an aesthetic appearance. It costs less and last long. Many jewelries are gold-filled due to its reasonable price and durability.

Because a gold-filled material contains more gold than the electroplated gold material, it does not chip off or change colors if exposed to water. Wearers can wear a gold-filled bracelet or ring and take a bath with without it rubbing off. Anyone sensitive to other metals can wear gold-filled jewelries as they do not have such allergic reactions. These kind of jewelries can last as long as 30 years. 

 

Key difference between gold and gold-plated

Identity of gold and gold-plated  jewelries

Gold-plated refers to materials that is coated with a thin film of gold by electroplating it. An immeasurable amount of gold is used and, as thus, the jewelry is less valuable. A solid gold and gold-filled material are much more valuable. A solid gold is purer but because of gold’s malleability and softness, jewelries seldom contain a solid gold. Instead, they contain a mixture of gold and other metals. Gold content is relatively more compared to gold-plated jewelries hence gold-filled jewelries are more valuable. 

Gold content in gold and gold-plated jewelries

Gold-plated materials are only coated with gold. A thin, immeasurable film of gold is coated using electricity to give the material a shiny characteristic of gold. A gold-filled material has more gold content in it. Usually, it is about 20%. The composition depends on the manufacturer.

Durability of gold and gold-plated  jewelries

Gold-plated jewelries are durable but the coating is less durable. It can chip off in a short period of time especially if exposed to harsh climatic conditions such as rain. It is not suitable for everyday wear. A gold-filled material is durable. Solid gold is also durable when combined with durable alloys such as nickel. 

Value of  gold Vs. gold-plated  jewelries

Gold-filled and solid gold are more valuable. Gold-plated is less valuable even if coated with a thin film of a 24 karat gold. 

Gold Vs.  Gold-plated: Tabular form

 

Summary of Gold and Gold-plated  

  • Gold-plated contains a thin film of gold electroplated on it
  • Solid gold is more pure but seldom used in jewelries. Instead, gold-filled materials are used
  • Gold-plated is less durable and less valuable
  • Gold-filled and solid gold are more valuable and durable
  • Gold-plated jewelry is less expensive
  • Gold-filled jewelry is more expensive
  • Gold-plated is not suitable for everyday wear as the gold finish may rub off
  • Gold-filled can be worn while working with water

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References :


[0]Image credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1e/Gemini_12_Flown_Fliteline_Gold-Plated_Sterling_Silver_Medallion.jpg/640px-Gemini_12_Flown_Fliteline_Gold-Plated_Sterling_Silver_Medallion.jpg

[1]Image credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/60/Gold_Ingots_on_white_background.jpg/640px-Gold_Ingots_on_white_background.jpg

[2]Ellen Cheever, NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association), (Nov 2014). Kitchen & Bath Products and Materials: Cabinetry, Equipment, Surfaces. John Wiley & Sons. Page 196. 

[3]R. Allen Hardy, (Jun 2013). The Jewelry Repair Manual. Courier Corporation.

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