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Gold filled vs gold plated vs solid gold jewellery

Gold jewellery is undeniably captivating. It elevates any ensemble, radiates against every skin tone, and its allure is timeless. Yet, not all that glitters is, well, solid gold. The world of gold jewellery is richly diverse, offering options like gold-filled, gold-plated, solid gold, and even gold vermeil.

Understanding the nuanced differences between these types of gold is crucial for making an informed choice for your next jewellery investment. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the distinct characteristics of each gold type to help you navigate appearance, durability, quality, and price. 

Bottom line: This guide provides an in-depth look at four types of gold jewellery: gold-filled, which offers a thicker layer of gold for durability; gold-plated, an affordable but less durable option; gold vermeil, a high-quality form of gold-plating with a sterling silver base; and solid gold jewellery, the most luxurious and long-lasting choice. From durability and appearance to cost and potential for allergic reactions, you'll be able to make an informed choice based on your needs and budget.

The difference between gold-plated, gold-filled and gold vermeil

When it comes to gold jewellery, understanding the key differences between gold-plated, gold-filled, gold vermeil, and solid gold is crucial for making an informed purchase. Each type varies in how it's made, the amount of gold content, durability, and value. 

  • Gold-plated jewellery is the most affordable but has the thinnest layer of gold, making it less durable and more prone to tarnishing. 

  • Gold-filled pieces have a thicker layer of gold and offer better durability, making them a middle-of-the-road option in terms of cost and quality. 

  • Gold vermeil is similar to gold-plated but uses sterling silver as the base metal, balancing affordability and quality. 

  • Finally, solid gold is the most expensive but most durable and valuable, ideal for those looking for a long-lasting investment.

Understanding these nuances can help you make a style statement and an investment that aligns with your lifestyle and needs. In the following sections, we'll delve into these types in more detail to help you make the best choice for your needs.

What is gold-plated?

Gold-plated jewellery is made by applying a thin layer of gold onto the surface of another, less expensive metal like copper or brass. This gives the piece the appearance of gold without the hefty price tag. 

While gold-plated items offer a more budget-friendly way to enjoy the allure of gold, they come with their own pros and cons. For a deeper dive into the specifics, check out our article on the pros and cons of gold-plated jewellery.

Advantages of gold-plated jewellery

  • Affordable. One of the most significant advantages is its affordability. You can enjoy the look of gold without breaking the bank.

  • Variety. Due to its lower cost, gold-plated jewellery often comes in a wider range of designs and styles.

  • Suitable for trend pieces. If you like to switch up your accessories often, gold-plated items allow you to keep up with trends without committing to a higher-priced piece.

  • Short-term durability. While less durable than solid gold, a well-cared-for gold-plated piece can last up to a few years.

Disadvantages of gold-plated jewellery

  • Short lifespan. Gold-plated items are prone to tarnishing and can lose their lustre relatively quickly. They generally last about 1-2 years with regular wear.

  • Not valuable. These pieces have minimal resale value, as the gold content is minimal.

  • Skin sensitivities. The base metal can cause allergic reactions for those with sensitive skin.

  • Not ideal for daily wear. Due to its limited durability, we don't recommend gold-plated for everyday pieces like wedding rings or items you never want to take off.

What is gold filled?

Gold-filled jewellery is a step up from gold-plated pieces, offering a thicker layer of gold pressure-bonded to a base metal like brass. This results in a more durable and higher-quality item that retains the allure of gold but at a fraction of the cost of solid gold.

The gold layer in gold-filled jewellery is significantly thicker than in gold-plated items, often containing up to 100 times more gold. This not only enhances its resistance to tarnish and wear but also gives it a gold appearance that is hard to distinguish from solid gold, making it a popular choice for those seeking a balance between quality and affordability.

Advantages of gold-filled jewellery

  • Durability makes it a popular choice. Gold-filled jewellery is a wise investment for those looking for longevity without the steep cost of solid gold.

  • Thicker layer of gold. This makes it less prone to tarnishing and fading.

  • More affordable than solid gold. It offers a middle-ground option for those who want the gold look without the gold price.

  • Lower risk of allergic reactions. The thicker gold layer minimises the risk of allergic reactions for those with sensitive skin.

  • Suitable for everyday wear. Its durability makes it ideal for pieces you never want to take off.

Disadvantages of gold-filled jewellery

  • Fades over time. While it lasts longer than gold-plated, it can still fade over decades.

  • Limited resale value. Though more valuable than gold-plated, it doesn't hold its value like solid gold.

  • Not 100% gold. For purists, it's worth noting that gold-filled is not pure gold.

  • Requires care. While durable, it still requires some level of care to maintain its lustre.

What is gold vermeil? 

Gold vermeil (pronounced 'ver-may') is a high-quality form of gold-plated jewellery that uses sterling silver as its base metal. The piece is then coated with a layer of gold at least 2.5 microns thick, offering a more luxurious and durable alternative to standard gold-plated items. This creates a piece that combines the affordability of gold-plated jewellery and the durability and quality of solid gold.

The gold layer in gold vermeil is significantly thicker than in gold-plated jewellery, making it a more durable option that can withstand everyday wear to some extent. However, like all types of gold that aren't solid, it requires a certain level of care to maintain its lustre and extend its life.

Advantages of gold vermeil jewellery

  • Thicker gold layer. The gold coating is at least 2.5 microns thick, making it more durable than standard gold-plated items.

  • Sterling silver base. The use of sterling silver adds to its quality and hypoallergenic properties.

  • Less expensive than solid gold. It offers a luxurious look without the hefty price tag.

  • Suitable for everyday wear. Its durability means it can withstand daily use, although care is still needed.

Disadvantages of gold vermeil jewellery

  • Fades over time. While more durable than gold-plated, it can still tarnish or fade, especially if exposed to water or chemicals. Luckily, though, it won't rust. 

  • Not ideal for showering. It's best to remove gold vermeil jewellery before showering to prolong its life.

  • Limited lifespan. Though it lasts longer than gold-plated items, it doesn't have the longevity of solid gold.

  • Changing appearance. When the gold layer wears off, the sterling silver underneath may be exposed, affecting the piece's overall look.

What about solid gold jewellery? 

Solid gold jewellery is the epitome of luxury and timeless elegance. Crafted entirely from gold, these pieces contain no base metals, offering unparalleled purity and quality. Solid gold is often available in different karats, with 24-karat gold being the purest form.

For those interested in the intricacies of crafting 24-karat gold jewellery, find out whether 24k gold can make jewellery and explore how 24-karat gold jewellery is made

Advantages of solid gold jewellery

  • Holds its value. Pure, solid gold is a valuable asset that often appreciates over time.

  • Does not tarnish. Its chemical composition makes it resistant to tarnishing and corrosion.

  • Hypoallergenic. Pure, solid gold is ideal for those with sensitive skin as it contains no alloy metals.

  • Long-lasting. With proper care, it can last generations, making it ideal for heirloom pieces.

Disadvantages of solid gold jewellery

  • Most expensive. The high purity and quality come with a premium price tag.

  • Softer material. Higher karats like 24k are softer and more susceptible to scratches.

  • Heavier. The density of solid gold can make jewellery pieces heavier, which may not be comfortable for everyone.

Which is best for you: gold-filled, gold-plated, gold vermeil or solid gold? 

Choosing between gold-filled, gold-plated, gold vermeil, and solid gold ultimately depends on your lifestyle, preferences, and how you intend to wear your jewellery. Each type has unique advantages and disadvantages, catering to different needs and budgets.

Gold-filled jewellery is a durable and more affordable alternative to solid gold, ideal for everyday wear. Gold-plated jewellery offers a budget-friendly way to enjoy the allure of gold, best for occasional wear. 

Gold vermeil balances quality and cost, offering thicker plating than gold-plated pieces. Solid gold is the pinnacle of luxury and durability, an investment that holds its value and beauty over time.

We believe everyone should be free to express themselves through exquisite jewellery, regardless of their budget. That's why at 7879, we offer a range of options from gold-filled to solid gold, each crafted to meet our exacting standards.

Explore our diverse collection of 24k gold jewellery to find the perfect piece that aligns with your style and needs. Whether you're in the market for pure gold bracelets or solid gold earrings, we invite you to discover the enduring beauty and value that 7879 offers.