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Gold-Plated vs. Gold-filled

Gold-plated vs. gold-filled... what's the difference? If you have ever been scrolling online, browsing for a new piece of gold jewelry, you have probably noticed the drastic variations in price points for pieces of jewelry that look identical. For example, at a glance, these two bracelets are almost exactly the same.

Now what if I told you that the bracelet on the top is $64, and the bracelet on the bottom is $13.59? For the sake of being financially savvy, one could reasonably assume that the cheaper bracelet is the best option. After all, there’s no difference between the two of them, right?

Not so fast. The reason the bracelet on the top is more expensive than the one on the bottom is because it is gold-filled. A piece of jewelry that is gold-filled has a base metal of copper or brass, and sheets of gold are bonded to the base using heat. The result is that real gold constitutes about 5% of the jewelry’s overall weight, and the piece can last anywhere between 10-30 years given that the jewelry is cared for properly.

In contrast, gold-plated jewelry also has a base metal of copper or brass, but a very thin layer of gold is attached to the base layer through an electromagnetic process. The result is that real gold constitutes only about 0.05% of the jewelry's overall weight, and the piece can last up to 2 years. As the gold layer is so thin, the piece is prone to flaking and exposing the bare metal underneath.

Although both options are affordable alternatives to solid gold pieces, for the sake of longevity, a gold-filled piece of jewelry is the best choice.

Speaking of longevity, here are some tips to ensure that your gold-filled jewelry lasts:
  • Avoid wearing in the shower, ocean, lakes, or swimming pools

  • Avoid wearing when you apply perfume, hairspray, or any other products that contain harsh chemicals

  • Use a jewelry polishing cloth to wipe clean and retain shine

Written by: Kate Pinette

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