What does gold plated mean?

April 14, 2017

Precious metals are rare metallic chemical elements found in nature. They have a high lustre and the most well known of the precious metals – gold and silver – have been used as currency for a very long time. Gold jewellery has historically been a symbol of wealth as well as a portable method of carrying wealth from one place to another.

There is something about gold that you might be surprised to learn: gold is not the most expensive precious metal. It is the third most expensive. Rhodium is the most expensive and platinum is the second most expensive. They are more expensive because of their rarity.

When it comes to gold jewellery, there are so many choices. Solid gold, gold filled, gold plated – how do you know which one is the best choice for you? The primary difference between gold plated and gold filled jewellery is in the cost. Gold is an expensive metal and solid gold is the most expensive version because it is all gold, all the way through. Gold that is an alloy is less expensive and the advantage of being an alloy is that the gold will not be too soft.

Real 24 karat gold creates a beautiful piece of jewellery. Higher quality will fetch a higher price. Gold doesn't rust and it is very malleable. The malleability means that it is a soft metal and this is part of the reason why it can wear away so easily. A pure gold ring will over time, become thin to the point of breaking. Because gold is so soft, it benefits from being hardened by being alloyed with other metals, usually copper, silver, nickel, palladium, or zinc. The colour of gold jewellery depends upon the metals used in the alloy.

Rose gold, also known as pink gold or red gold, is very popular in recent years. It is an alloy of gold and copper, the two metals with colour. Copper is a base metal. So are nickel and zinc. White gold is a gold and nickel alloy. Some people have allergies to nickel so white gold can also be an alloy with other metals such as palladium.

Gold filled is the next most costly form of gold jewellery with 5% of its weight as gold. It is comprised of a layer of gold pressure-bonded to metal and looks and feels like solid gold. Again, the proportion of gold and another metal in the alloy affects the durability of a gold-filled item.

Gold plate is a thin layer of gold over a brass base and the weight proportion of the gold to the total weight is low, usually less than 0.05% of the overall weight is gold. A more durable form of gold plating is known as Vermeil, which is at least 2.5 microns thick applied over a sterling silver base. While gold plating is done in a very thin layer, it can be made more durable by using gold with a higher alloy of other metals.

For more plating information, contact us. D&M Jewellery Finishers provides top-notch jewellery cleaning and jewellery polishing services as well as precious metal plating.

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