Gold Filled vs Gold Plated: What's the Difference?

Gold jewelry is one of the most popular types of jewelry and the gold jewelry market has recently been exceeding expectations. This metal is classy and elegant and pairs perfectly with a variety of different gems and stones. 

However, when buying gold jewelry, there are a few options available. Many shoppers end up questioning whether they should buy gold filled or gold plated jewelry. 

To make this decision, it is necessary to know what these two terms mean. Keep reading to discover their definitions and examine their pros and cons. This will give you the information you need to determine your best option!

Related: Rose Gold Vs Yellow Gold: What’s The Difference?

Gold Filled

Gold filled jewelry starts with a base metal core. This core is usually brass but can be made from other metals. This core helps give the jewelry additional stability and prevents gold from being wasted on the core of the piece, where it will never be seen. 

This core is then wrapped in layers of solid gold. These gold layers can be 12K, 14K, or 18K. These layers add up to a measurable amount of gold in the final piece.

Gold Plated

Gold plated jewelry is similar to gold filled jewelry in that it also starts with a base metal core. Like gold filled jewelry, this metal core is usually also brass. 

However, this is where differences start to appear. The core in gold plated jewelry is typically larger. This causes it to make up a larger part of the final product. 

Then, a thin layer of gold is applied over the top of this base as the jewelry is made. This layer is much thinner than that on gold filled jewelry. In fact, it's usually not measurable, being less than 0.05% gold.

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Pros and Cons

Both gold plated and gold filled jewelry have their benefits and downsides. You may even choose different types of jewelry for different pieces. Make sure to think about the pros and cons of each before purchasing an item.

Related: Can You Wear Gold And Silver Jewelry Together?

Gold Plated

Gold plated jewelry has two main advantages. The first advantage, and the one that makes the biggest difference for most shoppers, is that it is less expensive. The second is that it is widely available. 

Gold plated jewelry uses less gold in the final product and, instead, more base metal. Since gold is expensive and always costs more than the base metal, this makes gold plated jewelry cheaper. 

Being cheaper also makes gold plated jewelry easier to produce. This makes it more widely available. Almost every store that sells jewelry will sell gold plated jewelry. Meanwhile, it may be a little more difficult to find gold filled jewelry. 

However, the gold plating on gold plated jewelry tends to wear off quickly. This is because the layer of gold is relatively thin. This causes a few problems. 

The first and most obvious problem is that the piece doesn't look as nice. If the gold plating rubs away, scratches, or is removed in any way, it exposes the base metal underneath. This base metal will not have anywhere near the same visual appeal as gold. 

The other problem is that it may lead to problems for those with sensitive skin. Gold on its own does not react with skin and, because of this, generally doesn't irritate the skin. However, metals making up the core of gold plated jewelry are more likely to cause problems. If the gold plating wears away and exposes the base metal, it can lead to irritation and dermatitis in those with sensitive skin.

Gold Filled

Gold-filled jewelry's main advantage over its competition is that it is hardier. It doesn't tarnish, peel, chip, or discolor. It has more than just a thin layer of gold on it, so even if the outermost layer were damaged, it would simply reveal more gold. 

This gives gold filled jewelry direct advantages in the places where gold plated jewelry has disadvantages. These advantages primarily include durability and sensitivity. 

For one, gold filled jewelry looks beautiful throughout its entire life. In fact, if your gold filled jewelry has changed color, it's most likely because of dirt buildup. This is easy to remove with a simple cleaning, making the piece look as good as new. Meanwhile, gold plated jewelry that has changed color will often need to be replaced entirely. 

In addition, gold filled jewelry prevents the base metal from coming in contact with your skin. This makes it a good choice for those with sensitive skin

The only significant problem with gold filled jewelry is its cost. Because it uses more gold, gold filled jewelry costs more. 

However, the durability of gold filled jewelry helps mitigate the fact that it is more expensive. With gold plated jewelry, the piece will dull over time and will need to be replaced. Meanwhile, gold filled jewelry will last a lifetime. So, before making a purchase, you need to consider how long you plan on keeping the jewelry and how often you think you would need to replace it. 

When to Use Gold Filled vs. Gold Plated

In the end, gold filled jewelry is generally better than gold plated jewelry and is the preferred option in most situations. However, the advantages may be more or less significant depending on what the buyer is looking for. This means that there are certain occasions when gold filled jewelry is the better choice. 

Because of its availability and price, gold plated jewelry is a good option for situations where you want something gold but don't want to pay a lot for it. This makes it perfect for costume jewelry and other fun accessories. This is especially true if the gold jewelry won't be worn often, as it is less likely for the gold plating to wear away. 

Meanwhile, gold filled jewelry is better for pieces that will be worn often or over a long period of time. The durability of these pieces will allow them to still look good after being worn again and again.

Related: The Ultimate Guide On How To Clean Gold Jewelry

Know the Difference between Gold Filled vs. Gold Plated

Choosing jewelry doesn't just involve the gems that are included. It also means you must choose what metal the piece will have. Two common options are gold plated and gold filled.

Now that you know the differences between gold filled vs. gold plated you'll be able to make the best choice for your upcoming jewelry purchase!

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