Gold Filled vs. Gold Plated: Which Is More Valuable

This is a breakdown of the differences between gold-filled and gold-plated jewelry.

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Gold Bracelets

This is a breakdown of the differences between gold-filled and gold-plated jewelry. To make informed jewelry purchasing decisions and learn how they compare.

So, you are curious about the differences between gold-filled and gold-plated jewelry. Perhaps you have already researched the topic but come across contradictory, confusing, or false information. Fear not; you will find below the research results into the subject.

Gold Filled vs. Gold Plated: are they the same?

No. They are different in terms of their manufacturing processes. Furthermore, the amount of gold alloy used to make gold-filled pieces is higher than gold-plated.

For gold-plated jewelry, a gold alloy is layered over a base metal. Gold-filled jewelry contains 100x more gold alloy than gold-plated jewelry. This is because the coating is thicker, gold-filled jewelry will last longer and resist wear and tear better than gold-plated. In addition, it would only take one tiny scratch to expose the brass beneath a piece of gold-plated jewelry.

Is there a difference in the amount and quality of the gold alloy? The manufacturing process is the key to this:

  • The core metal is placed between two layers made of gold alloy for gold-filled jewelry. This heats up and then passes through a roller several more times. This heats the metals together and thins out the sheet.
  • For gold-plated jewelry, an electric current is used. It charges the base metal negatively and then positively charges a gold solution. The negative charge of the base metal attracts the positive gold ions, which slowly form a layer of solid gold over it.

Both processes can add thicker amounts of a gold alloy.

What is the difference in durability?

Gold-filled pieces, as mentioned in the first section, are more durable than those that have been gold-plated. This is due to the thicker layer made of gold alloy. However, both types have a limited life expectancy. It all depends on how the piece is used, the environment, and the quality.

  • Gold-filled jewelry can last for a lifetime if it is correctly cared for.
  • The durability of gold-plated jewelry is poor, and it can't withstand heat, water, or wear.

What about tarnishing?

The piece's chances of tarnishing depend on the thickness of the layer of gold alloy.

  • However, gold-filled pieces may tarnish if they are placed in special circumstances. Pure gold is not prone to tarnish so, even though it's an alloy, the thick layer of gold-filled pieces keeps it from tarnishing.
  • Because of the thin gold layer that can quickly wear away, gold-plated pieces can tarnish when the core metal is exposed.

You can clean gold-filled jewelry with a cloth and mild soapy solution. Don't scrub the piece. 

For gold-plated pieces, only clean them if necessary. Use a cotton ball, and do not scrub gold-filled.

Best Uses

When durability and longevity are essential, gold-filled jewelry is the best choice. A piece designed to last for decades makes gifts more meaningful, especially for birthdays and anniversaries. A piece that is worn every day is another example of this. A piece with gold plating would only last a few months if worn daily.

Gold-plated jewelry is an excellent choice for those "of the moment" trends. You can participate in the current trend without worrying about whether it is worth your money. Another great use of gold-plated jewelry is for costume and cosplay jewelry. These pieces are often worn only once or twice, so appearance is more important than durability.

If you want to sell or buy gold plated or gold-filled jewelry, we will help you out at AU Precious Metal Solutions.