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Gold Plated vs. Gold Filled vs. Vermeil vs. Solid Gold


Gold Nuggets

Precious Metalz Jewelry was created to bring to the market classic jewelry designs that are affordable and beautiful. With that and, as the name intends, we have a variety of Metals in our designs.


Here is an overview of the different types of gold options available in the market for jewelry production. I will dive deeper into these metals in the coming months.


Gold has long been revered for its beauty, rarity, and value, making it a popular choice for crafting exquisite jewelry pieces. We here at PMJ love to have Gold as an option for many of our designs. However, not all gold jewelry is created equal.

In the jewelry industry, different terms such as gold plated, gold filled, vermeil, and solid gold are used to describe the composition and quality of gold jewelry. Understanding the differences between these options is crucial for the consumer to make informed purchasing decisions.


Read on to discover some basic differences between gold plated jewelry, gold filled jewelry, vermeil, and solid gold, delving into their manufacturing processes, composition, and overall value.


Gold Plated Jewelry



Gold plated jewelry is the most affordable option among the four types. It involves a base metal (often brass or copper) coated with a thin layer of gold through a process called electroplating. The gold layer is typically quite thin, measuring around 0.5 microns to 2.5 microns. While gold plated jewelry looks attractive and can mimic the appearance of real gold, it is not as durable as other types and may tarnish or wear off over time, exposing the base metal beneath.


Pros:

  • Cost-effective and budget-friendly.

  • Can achieve a similar appearance to solid gold.

  • A wide variety of designs available.

Cons:

  • Prone to tarnishing and fading.

  • The thin layer of gold easily wears off easily in a short amount of time.

  • Not suitable for daily wear or those with skin allergies.

  • Shorter lifespan compared to other types.


Gold Filled Jewelry


Gold filled jewelry offers a more durable alternative to gold plated pieces. It involves a thicker layer of gold, usually comprising 5% to 10% of the total weight of the item, bonded to a base metal core using heat and pressure. The gold layer is substantially thicker than that of gold plated jewelry, making it more resistant to wear and tarnish. With proper care, gold-filled jewelry can last for a lifetime.


Gold filled is offered in a couple construction options. PMJ never uses single-clad, as the core metal will be exposed to the skin. Double clad and wire clad options can be soldered, albeit with great care. Too much heat will mix the gold with the base metal making the metal unusable.


Pros:

  • Greater durability and longevity than gold plated jewelry.

  • More affordable than solid gold, but with better quality.

  • Suitable for daily wear and those with sensitive skin.

Cons:

  • Still not as valuable or pure as solid gold.

  • Can tarnish or fade over time, although less likely than gold plated jewelry.

  • May not be as valuable to collectors as solid gold pieces.


Vermeil


Vermeil (pronounced ver-MAY) is a type of gold-plated jewelry with a higher standard of quality. To be classified as vermeil, the piece must have a sterling silver base and be plated with gold, with the gold layer measuring at least 2.5 microns in thickness. This combination of precious metals offers a more luxurious appearance and improved durability compared to regular gold-plated jewelry.


Thought the plated layer has to be at least 2.5 microns, it will still wear off in short time. However, the base metal is Sterling Silver, therefore the wearer can end up with a sterling silver piece, over time.


Pros:

  • Blends the elegance of gold with the affordability of silver.

  • Suitable for those with sensitive skin, as sterling silver is hypoallergenic.

  • Longer-lasting and more resistant to tarnishing than standard gold plated jewelry.

Cons:

  • More expensive than traditional gold plated jewelry.

  • The gold layer will still inevitably wear off over time, but you are still left with Silver.

  • Still not as durable or valuable as solid gold.


Solid Gold



Solid gold jewelry is considered the epitome of luxury and quality. It is made entirely of gold, with no base metals or plating involved. The purity of solid gold is measured in karats, with 24 karat gold being the purest (100% gold) and 10 karat gold containing 41.7% gold, with the rest being alloyed metals.


Pros:

  • Highest value and prestige among all gold jewelry types.

  • Resistant to tarnishing and hypoallergenic, making it suitable for everyday wear.

  • Retains its value and can be a valuable investment.

Cons:

  • Significantly more expensive than other gold jewelry options.

  • Softer than alloys, making it more susceptible to scratches and dents.

  • Higher karat gold (e.g., 24k) can be too soft for some jewelry designs.

Each type of gold option for jewelry offer distinct characteristics in terms of composition, appearance, durability, and value. Gold plated jewelry is the most affordable but lacks longevity and quality, while gold filled jewelry strikes a balance between affordability and durability. Vermeil combines the elegance of gold with the hypoallergenic properties of sterling silver, providing a more luxurious option. Finally, solid gold stands as the ultimate symbol of prestige and value, though it comes with a higher price tag.


When choosing gold jewelry, consumers should consider their budget, intended use, and desired level of luxury to make the best-informed decision. Whether it's a statement piece for a special occasion or an everyday accessory, understanding the differences between these types of gold jewelry will ensure a satisfying and worthwhile purchase.


Precious Metalz uses only solid gold or gold filled options. Solid gold is much easier to manipulate to accomplish those complex designs. And, though more costly, gold is always a great choice for luxury.


Gold filled options offer cost effectiveness and can still be soldered, with some care. The gold-filled option can be worn every day while maintaining its color and luster. With the occasional polish, it is difficult to tell the difference.


PMJ avoids using any of the plated options mainly because of the production restrictions. Plated jewelry cannot be flame soldered, which restricts the number of PMJ designs in which it can be used. The fact that the gold in the gold-plated options wears off so quickly makes it less appealing to most people. This is not a good fit with PMJ's value of supplying a quality product.

So you will see Sterling Silver, Solid Gold and Gold Filled options available at Precious Metalz Jewelry. Next time we will dive into Sterling Silver.


Photo sources:

QualityInspection.org

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