Definition of Gold Plated Vs. Gold Filled

Much of the retail gold jewelry is not made from pure gold. Instead, gold is placed over other types of metal to provide jewelry with a gold look. Gold-filled and gold-plated jewelry differ regarding the amount of gold used and the application process. Gold-filled and gold-plated jewelry also differs in how long it lasts. Jewelry makers should understand how the processes used for both gold plating and gold filling affects the types of materials used by many artisans.

Man putting gold ring on woman's finger
Man putting gold ring on woman's finger (Image: Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

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Gold-filling jewelry is jewelry containing pure gold equal to 1/20th of its entire weight. Gold is often mixed with copper or brass. Gold-plated jewelry also combines gold with copper, brass or other base metals, however, only a very tiny amount of gold is used. The gold or gold-colored metal used in gold-plated jewelry equals seven-millionths of an inch.

Man looking at jewelry
Man looking at jewelry (Image: Baerbel Schmidt/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Plating Process

Gold plating involves pressing a small amount of karat gold over the base metal through an electrochemical process. In some cases, the metal used in gold plating is not real gold, but only provides a gold color.

Woman wearing gold earrings
Woman wearing gold earrings (Image: Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Vermeil Process

Vermeil is the process by which gold is bonded to a base metal to create gold-filled jewelry. Vermeil involves a thick sheet gold being mechanically bonded with the base metal. Gold-filled jewelry often is marked with a number that indicates the relationship between the weight of karat gold and the weight of the base metal.

Gold jewelry
Gold jewelry (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)


Gold-plated and gold-filled jewelry also differ in terms of wear and tear. The coloring on gold-plated jewelry tends to wear off more easily than gold-filled jewelry. Gold-plated jewelry reacts to salts in human skin and pollutants in the air, breaking down more quickly than its filled counterparts.

Woman wearing gold necklace and earrings
Woman wearing gold necklace and earrings (Image: Baerbel Schmidt/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Jewelry Making

Jewelry makers and artisans should be aware of the differences between gold-plated and gold-filled jewelry as it pertains directly to their work. Understanding how gold-plated and gold-filled jewelry relates to one another helps artists enhance their material choices.

Couple looking at gold rings
Couple looking at gold rings (Image: Dynamic Graphics/Creatas/Getty Images)


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