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Gold Fill & Gold Plated - what is the difference?

by Rebekah Jaramillo

two of the same necklaces, one in brass and the other in gold plate laying on a cream colored cloth

 

Gold-Fill... Gold Plated... you may have heard these terms but do you know what the difference is? 

In a nutshell, Gold Plated and Gold-Fill are very different processes of adding gold to the outer layer of a base metal.

Our base metal is what's called jewelers brass. Brass is an alloy of tin and copper, and the jewelers brass has a higher content of tin which makes it more resistant to tarnish. When polished the color is comparable to 18K gold, but is a fraction of the price.

GOLD FILL is when gold is added to the outside of a base metal via pressure.

GOLD PLATED is when gold is added to the outside of metal via electroplating.

The diagram below is from Halstead bead company (ref.) and is a really nice visual demonstration of how Gold Fill (on the left) is done via pressure, and Gold Plating (on the right) is done via electroplating. Let's dive in a little more.

Golf Fill Vs. Gold Plated Diagram from Halstead Bead Co.

GOLD FILL

"To make gold-filled pieces, the core metal is sandwiched between two layers of gold alloy which is then heated and passed through a roller several times - a process that both bonds the metals together and thins the sheet out." To be called Gold-Fill an items gold is required to be at least 5% of the make up of the item. [ref.] - Halstead Bead) 

Because of the nature of this process only jewelry parts that are machine manufactured such as wire and sheet metal can be Gold-Filled. 

 

GOLD PLATED

Gold Plating is a process of adding gold to the outside of a base metal - in our case, jewelers brass - similar to Gold Fill, however this process is done by electroplating. Electroplating is "when an electric current is used to negatively charge the base metal and positively charge a solution containing gold ions. The positive gold ions are attracted to the negative charge of the core metal, slowly forming a layer of gold on top of the core."[ref.] - Halstead Bead) 

 

 

 

WHERE DO WE USE THESE ELEMENTS?

We use BOTH gold plated items and gold filled items in our jewelry collections.

GOLD FILL: Ear wires & Chain

GOLD PLATED:  Pendants, rings + earrings parts

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO BUYING GOLD PLATED?

Wearing pure gold is amazing but it's simply not in everyones budget. Gold plating is a great way to wear effortless gold jewelry, at a fraction of the cost.

The positive aspects of buying gold plated items versus brass or pure gold are many! But here's just a few:

  1. Affordability
  2. Color
  3. Tarnish Resistant
  4. Shiny
  5. Hypo-Allergenic

HOW THICK IS OUR GOLD PLATING?

We outsource this process to a plating company and we adhere to their recommendations below. All of our parts are plated with a thick plating of 1 micron. (40 millionths). Rings are plated with 3 microns because of the wear on the items. The only exception being our earrings which we plate with 1 micron vs. their recommendation of .5 micron.

They recommend the following thicknesses (ref.)

  • earrings and pins–20 millionths (0.5 micron)
  • pendants and necklaces–40 millionths (1 micron)
  • rings and bracelets–120 millionths (3 microns)

They also note these differences in the types of Gold Plating terminology, per Federal Regulations.

  • GOLD FLASH OR GOLD WASH

    Electroplating of gold thickness of less than 7 millionths of an inch.

  • GOLD ELECTROPLATE: Electroplating of gold a minimum thickness of 7 millionths of an inch. Can also be marked G.E.P.

  • GOLD PLATE: A gold coating, deposited by any means, a minimum thickness of 20 millionths of an inch. Can also be marked G.P.

  • HEAVY GOLD ELECTROPLATE: Electroplating of gold a minimum thickness of 100 millionths of and inch (2.5 microns).

  • VERMEIL (pronounced VER-MAY): Sterling silver electroplated with gold a minimum thickness of 100 millionths of an inch (2.5 microns).

 

SUMMARY

Gold plating is a great way to wear effortless gold jewelry, with out the cost of pure gold. I wear gold plated pieces for weeks at a time and they still look amazing years later.

I hope that by sharing our processes you become a more informed buyer and that it gives you confidence in making the right decision for yourself. I take pride in how my work is created, cast, plated and arrive to you - but also in how you they become a part of your daily jewelry choices.

 

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE LIFE OF YOUR BRASS OR GOLD PLATED JEWELRY PIECES

We whipped up a little video to show you some of my own well loved jewelry pieces so you can see what to expect as you wear your jewelry.

Check it out!

 

 

 

 

1 comment
by isakeito on April 04, 2021

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