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Gold plate vs gold filled

Gold plate vs gold filled

Ever been confused by gold toned, gold filled, gold plated or gold karats?  Us too!  Why not throw carats into the mix as well?  We've done some research, here's what we know about gold and how it glitters.


What is gold plated jewellery?

Gold plating is an electro-chemical process where a thin layer of gold is bonded to the surface of a lower value metal like brass or copper, sometimes referred to as the base metal.  To satisfy the definition of gold plate in the UK, the gold layer will be 2 microns, 0.002 mm, or less in thickness. 

Gold plated jewellery looks beautiful but can be susceptible to wear and may eventually tarnish.  Some vintage jewellery makers, such as Monet, had their pieces triple plated to increase the robustness of finish and lengthen the wearable life of the items.


What is gold filled jewellery?

Gold filled, or gold bonded, jewellery still consists of a base metal covered in a layer of gold, but that layer is much thicker than a plated layer would be.  It's difficult to assign an exact thickness, however by American standards, where gold filled is very popular, a gold filled item must be at least 5% gold by weight. 

To add a little something else, you may sometimes also see gold filled jewellery described as 'rolled gold' jewellery.  Gold filled creates a layer which is bonded to the base metal, while rolled gold is a layer which has literally been rolled on top of the base layer without being bonded.


What is vermeil?

Vermeil and silver-gilt are interchangeable terms.  Vermeil jewellery will have a fine or sterling silver core and be plated in gold.  To meet American standards the thickness of the gold plate will be at least 2.5 microns, or 0.0025 mm.


solid gold vs vermeil vs bonded gold vs gold plate


Gold Tone/Yellow Metal

These descriptions are used when it isn't clear to the author if an item is solid gold, gold filled or gold plated. 


Karats, Carats, Carrots?!

Carats are a measurement of gem weight, whereas karats measure the purity of gold.  However, in the UK carats can be used for gems or for gold!



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