THE COMMON GUIDE: Different Types of Gold Jewelry Explained
Paired with a crisp, white button-down or a chunky knit sweater, tossing on a few pieces of delicate gold jewelry has the power to elevate any outfit. But whether it’s a dainty little accent piece or big impact statement item, the range in quality, price and durability can greatly vary across the different gold jewelry types and it’s something you should at least know the basics of when choosing your new favorite go-to.
Though each of the 4 major types of gold jewelry has a gold layer on the surface, they are not interchangeable, and each type varies in important ways:
- gold-plated jewelry
- gold vermeil jewelry
- gold-filled jewelry
- solid gold jewelry
Which one you choose can help decide the longevity, quality and value of your investment so it’s good to be aware of the differences. So, here’s our handy guide on what each of these means so you can decide which one is right for you!
What is Gold Plating?
Let’s start with the least pricey, most common type of affordable gold jewelry on the market today. Gold plated jewelry usually takes a metal such as brass, copper, or silver, and quickly coats it in a gold layer. It must contain a gold coating of at least 10 karats with a minimum thickness throughout equivalent to 0.5 microns. This thin layer, containing less than 1% of gold content, is what makes the cost as low as possible when compared to other types of gold jewelry.
You can also find flash gold plating in this category. This type of jewelry provides an even thinner coating, only applying enough gold to give a colour and even finish.
While it still has that gold luster, the thin layer is quick to fade and the metal beneath is easy to tarnish. When rubbed, washed or rinsed, the ring (and your skin) may become discolored in worst case scenarios. If you do buy gold plated jewelry, ensure it is 14k, 18k, or higher for more durability.
What is Gold Vermeil?
Gold vermeil, though similar to gold plating, instead must use a base of high quality pure or sterling silver, coated or plated on all significant surfaces with gold or gold alloy of not less than 10 karat fineness and a minimum thickness throughout of 2.5 microns.
Vermeil, and sterling silver, are a more hypoallergenic material than other jewelry metals. Because of the thicker layer of gold, vermeil is also considered to be of a higher quality than standard gold plated jewelry, though with lots of wear and little maintenance, it can also tarnish over time.
Our gold jewelry pieces fall into this category because we wanted to make our collection affordable while still using the highest quality precious metals that are hypoallergenic, gentle on skin and that last a long time with proper maintenance.
What is Gold-Filled?
Contrary to its name, gold-filled jewelry is not actually filled with gold, but is also a coating. In this category of jewelry, a thick layer of gold is bonded to a base material, often being brass or copper. In order to be considered gold-filled, the gold layer on these pieces must constitute 5% of the total weight.
Since the gold is mechanically bonded to the base rather than plated, gold-filled jewelry will be more resistant to wear and tear. If not properly cared for, however, it may still succumb to scratches or surface tarnish over time.
What is Solid Gold?
The most expensive and high quality option, solid gold jewelry does not rub off over time or tarnish, and has a high resale value.
Although again, contrary to its name, solid gold does not mean that it contains a 100% gold element. Pure gold is too soft to be able to create any type of durable jewelry, and must instead be alloyed with a mixture of metals like silver, copper, and zinc.
Affordable, High Quality Jewelry That Lasts
The perfect equilibrium between quality, price and design, our range of fine gold vermeil jewelry lets you invest and collect pieces that feel easy enough to wear every day while looking and feeling special. And with proper maintenance, our well crafted designs can give you a lifetime of wear.