I often get asked this question: “What kind of gold do you use in your jewelry”? The answer is gold-filled. But, what does that mean exactly?
First off let me begin by telling you that when I started designing jewelry, I wanted to create quality pieces that would last, at reasonable prices. If you’re a jewelry lover like me, this thought will resonate with you.
This means, you like options, and enjoy having a repertoire of different pieces. I choose to use gold-filled because it allows me to do just that without breaking the bank.
SO, WHAT IS GOLD-FILLED?
Gold-filled is a layer of 14kt solid gold on top of jeweler’s brass or copper that is bonded in place with extreme heat and pressure. In the US, the gold alloy legally must make up 5% of the total product weight. If it's less then 5%, you may hear the term "rolled gold" or "gold overlay".
High quality gold-filled pieces resemble solid gold, but are much more affordable with the same beautiful color and shine. It is also more durable than gold-plated metals, lasting as long as 20-30 years if taken care of properly. It won’t chip or wear off nearly as quickly because the gold content is significantly thicker, usually 100 times thicker than gold-plated.
Because it’s not solid gold…
You must still be careful in how you care for your gold-filled jewelry. I would not recommend showering, swimming, working out, spraying perfumes or lathering on creams on your jewelry. This can eventually dull your chain much faster than if you keep it away from these agents. Click on this link for more information on how to care for your gold-filled jewelry .
Gold-filled is absolutely your best option after solid gold for quality and durability.
WHAT ABOUT GOLD-PLATED?
Gold-plated refers to the process of coating a thin layer of gold on any surface of any metal such as silver. Because the layer is thinner than gold-filled, it will eventually scratch, peel, and tarnish in a short time, most likely lasting you about one year depending on wear.
The amount of gold is not regulated by the industry, so one can not be sure how much gold is on the plated layer on any given piece of jewelry. It is however, more affordable then gold-filled.
Here is a diagram summarizing the four different types of gold.
AND GOLD VERMEIL?
Gold vermeil is similar to gold-plated but the layer of gold is thicker and the metal underneath is sterling silver. Because there is more gold bonded to the surface, it will last longer then gold-plated and is usually more expensive. It can still tarnish, especially if exposed to water, sweat, or perfumes, with the gold eventually rubbing off exposing the metal underneath.
The most expensive of them all, with the longest wear, quality and value. Unlike all other types of gold, solid gold retains it's value, even can increase in value over time. You can wear it in the shower, the ocean, work out with it and will last forever!
I personally feel that if given the option of buying many pieces of cheaper jewelry that won't last over fewer more expensive pieces that will, I would choose buying fewer. I would rather save up and invest a little more money on better quality pieces, that will last.
With that said, if you don't want to spend the extra money, and are into fast fashion, a gold-plated or vermeil piece of jewelry will allow you to enjoy a trend while it lasts.
Choose what's right for you. That is the beauty of having choices! And this is why I stand by my motto:
BE YOURSELF. FEEL FABULOUS.