Gold-Plated Jewelry: Definition, Care, and More

Gold is timeless, beautiful, and one of the precious metals that makes a solid investment opportunity. The problem many people face is that gold is quite expensive to buy, and it can be delicate.

The solution? Gold-plated jewelry. It's just as beautiful, more affordable, and more durable.

So what is gold-plated jewelry exactly? What are the benefits?

Stay with us to find out. We'll answer these questions and more, including gold-plated jewelry care so that you can make the most of your new piece.

What Is Gold-Plated Jewelry?

Gold-plated jewelry consists of a base metal, and a coating of gold applied using a chemical deposition or electroplating solution.

Base metals, also known as non-precious metals, include:

  • Copper
  • Nickel
  • Aluminum
  • Zinc
  • Brass
  • Pewter
  • Titanium
  • Stainless steel

The thickness of the gold layer affects the price of the piece, but gold-plated jewelry is more affordable than solid gold. High-end designer jewelry may have a gold layer between 2-3 microns.

Gold has one drawback, and that's the fact that this metal is quite soft. Gold atoms move past one another easily, making the metal malleable.

Pure gold (24K) is often too soft for everyday wear, making it susceptible to dents and scratches. Gold is often combined with alloys to make it more durable.

Gold-Filled Jewelry

Gold-filled jewelry consists of a layer of gold bonded to another metal, commonly copper or silver. Combining gold with other metals makes it stronger and better for jewelry.

Gold-filled jewelry contains more gold—a minimum of 5% gold combined with the base metal.

A stamp will tell you more about the quantity and karat. For instance, 1/20 14K GF means the jewelry contains a 14-karat gold layer, and it's 1/20th of the piece's total weight.

Gold-Plated Jewelry

As we mentioned earlier, gold-plated jewelry is made by combining a base metal such as copper or nickel and applying a layer of gold. The result is a piece that mimics a gold piece at a fraction of the cost.

Gold-plated jewelry is also cheaper than gold-filled jewelry, as it contains less gold. This means you can get many different pieces for your collection rather than just being able to afford one or two.

Vermeil gold is a type of gold-plated jewelry. It usually consists of a sterling silver base and a thick layer of gold.

The outer layer of vermeil gold must be 2.5 microns thick or more. The minimum purity is 10K or higher.

Which Is Better: Gold Filled or Gold Plated?

So which is better when it comes to gold-filled and gold-plated jewelry?

Gold-filled jewelry does last longer; however, it's more expensive. You might be able to buy more gold-plated pieces and expand your jewelry collection more easily.

That said, gold-plated jewelry can tarnish, which is why caring for it is important. Over time, gold-plated jewelry can fade and discolor. A jewelry polishing cloth can help restore shine and brilliance to your gold-plated jewelry.

Everything from lotions and perfumes to soaps can tarnish jewelry. Regularly cleaning and polishing your jewelry keeps it in pristine condition and extends its life.

What Are 9K, 14K, 18K, and 22K Gold Platings?

The higher the amount of pure gold compared to other metals, the higher the karat number. Keep in mind that pure gold is 24K gold.

18K gold contains 75% gold and 25% other metals. It's also the most expensive after pure gold.

14K gold contains 58.3% gold and 41.7% other metals. This type is often the go-to choice for people investing in high-quality jewelry.

10K gold is 41.7% gold and 58.3% other metals. This type is very strong and durable, and excellent for people on a budget.

9K gold is 37.5% gold and 62.5% other metals. 

Markings on Gold-Plated Jewelry

How do you find out if the jewelry is gold-plated or not? You can read the stamp. Much like the 925 stamps on silver, gold-plated jewelry usually has one of several stamps:

  • GP - gold-plated
  • GEP - gold electroplated
  • RGP  - rolled gold plate
  • HGE or HGP - heavy gold electroplate

Some jewelry may not have a stamp despite being gold-plated.

Finding Gold-Plated Jewelry Wholesale

If you make your own jewelry or sell jewelry at your business, you might be interested in finding gold-plated jewelry wholesale.

This is a good way to find quality pieces at a discount. You can also find a wide array of styles, types, and designs.

At Safasilver, we have a variety of wholesale jewelry options for you.

How to Keep Gold-Plated Jewelry From Tarnishing

The key to keeping your pieces in good condition is to take care of your jewelry. Gold-plated jewelry care includes regularly wiping down and polishing your jewelry with a  jewelry polishing cloth.

Did you know that these cloths can be used for a long time even after they appear dirty? Take care when laundering this cloth, as it can remove the polishing particles in the fabric.

Can You Wear Gold-Plated Jewelry in the Shower?

While you can wear gold-plated jewelry in the shower, it's best to avoid any unnecessary contact with water. Taking your jewelry off before showering will help it to last longer.

Also, you should take off your jewelry before showering or swimming as chlorine and saltwater can damage it.

How to Clean Gold-Plated Jewelry

It's a good idea to soak your pieces in a bowl with warm water and dish soap before wiping them clean. Be careful not to use any soaps with antibacterial properties as this can damage the gold plating.

As we mentioned earlier, you can use a polishing cloth to wipe down your jewelry and restore shine.

To avoid scratching or damaging the gold plating, avoid contact with chemicals found in hairspray, makeup, and other beauty products. It's also a good idea to limit your jewelry's contact with perfume, as this can cause a reaction similar to oxidation.

In the Market for New Jewelry?

If you're looking to buy jewelry, you should invest in gold-plated jewelry. These pieces look like traditional gold jewelry, but you can buy them at a fraction of the price.

If you're a business making or selling jewelry, take a look at our selection. We have many types of silver and gold-plated options, perfect for your wholesale needs.