Sunday, February 1, 2015

How Gold Filled is Better than Gold Plated Jewelry?

As a jewelry designer, the metals I work with primarily are sterling silver, 14k gold filled and 14k solid gold. 

I do not work with gold plated materials much. (You'll soon see why below)
Some think gold filled and gold plated are actually the same thing and are puzzled as to why gold filled jewelry cost more. If you've ever wondered why gold filled costs substantially more (but still much less than solid gold), then keep reading!

I often get the questions "What is gold filled? What is gold plated?" so lets clear this up once and for all! :)

Here are just a few reasons why I think Gold Filled Jewelry is BETTER than Gold Plated Jewelry:

What is Gold Filled?

  • Gold filled is a thick layer of gold which is pressure bonded or heat bonded to a base metal. Gold filled literally has 100% more gold than gold plating. The top layers of the gold filled item can be up to 1000X thicker than gold plated metal, therefore, gold filled is much more valuable and tarnish resistant. It does not flake off like gold plating does, it does not rub off easily or turn colors when cared for properly.

  • Almost anyone who can wear solid gold can also wear gold filled without the worries of allergic reaction to the jewelry. However those who are extremely sensitive to alloy metals like brass or nickel may want to stick to solid gold. With that said, gold filled jewelry is an economical alternative to solid gold! 
  • Gold filled items are regulated by the government, while gold plated jewelry has no regulations at all. Gold filled jewelry is made from solid gold and filled with other alloys such as rhodium, brass, and sterling silver. Gold filled wears, looks and lasts very similarly to solid gold because its outer layers are solid gold. In the jewelry industry the quantity of gold must be at least 1/20th by weight of the total product which is why you often see gold filled stamped with 14/20.

What is Gold Plated Jewelry then? 

Gold plating is unregulated. It is usually done via an electro-plating process where a very thin (micron) film of gold is applied to the piece. This is apt to wear away in a short period of time, and even a small scratch will reveal the underlying metal, which is where the "green skin" so often associated with gold plated items comes from. Because of the much lower gold content, gold-plated items are generally much less expensive than gold-filled products. 

Gold Filled Jewelry Care, The Basics: 

Caring for Gold Filled items is as easy as caring for any gold jewelry. Simply keep away from chemicals, including hard water, and apply lotions, perfumes and body sprays before putting on your jewelry. Remove your jewelry when showering, during exercise, in the pool and always remove your jewelry before bed. 

What about when it looks dirty or has collected a lot of oils or dust? Cleaning gold filled jewelry is not recommended because you can remove the top layers of gold however if your jewelry is looking really soiled, you can gently agitate it in a solution of mild sudsy water, rinse well and pat dry with a very soft cloth. Then polish very lightly with a very soft cloth to bring back the luster and shine. Last, be sure to store jewelry in an air tight bag such as the ones I carry in my shop and which I include with every purchase.

Hope you all enjoyed my article on why I personally think gold filled is better than gold plated jewelry. Comments? Questions? Please let me know below!

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