Did you know that most of the jewelry marketed as “pure gold” is, in truth, gold filled jewelry? This article will break down and help you understand what gold filled jewelry is and why it is cheaper than solid gold jewelry. We will also address some of the most commonly asked FAQs related to jewelry, like How long does a gold filled jewelry last? Which is better, gold plated or gold filled? Can you wear gold-filled every day? And is gold filled jewelry worth anything?
What Is Gold Filled Jewelry?
We use the term ‘Gold-filled’ to describe any jewelry primarily made of non-gold metals (called the base metal), which is then covered with a thick layer of gold.
You may hear of ‘rolled gold jewelry,’ ‘jewelry with gold overlays,’ or even ‘rolled gold plating’ in many places. All of these phrases refer to the same kind of jewelry – i.e., gold filled jewelry.
Since the primary metal in this jewelry is something other than actual gold, and gold is just used to coat the jewelry, it is cheaper. So, it costs less than solid gold jewelry made of gold with the same karat value.
How much gold is used in gold plated jewelry?
Generally, gold plated or gold filled jewelry features a thick, solid layer of gold on top of the base metal. Most often, this base metal is either sterling silver. The gold coating bonds mechanically to this base metal to give the jewelry its final appearance. Since gold filled jewelry uses a thick and uniform coating of real gold, it constitutes close to 5% of the jewelry’s total weight.
You may also notice that jewelry items that are gold filled have more gold than jewelry that has a gold overlay or rolled gold plate. Yes, we had already discussed that all these terms carry the same meaning legally, but this slight variation does occur. We understand that the gold in jewelry items with gold overlay is usually less than 5% of the total weight.
How long does a piece of jewelry last?
It depends primarily upon how much gold has been used in the process. For jewelry that has a substantially thick gold layer, it may last anywhere between 10 to 25 years. Moreover, some of these jewelry items appear to be so well made that you may think they are better quality than actual gold pieces. One of the main objectives why people use gold filled jewelry is because of its durability. So if the gold plated is of high quality, it can last for a good number of years.
Karats and Gold-Filled Jewelry
The karat number of a gold-filled jewelry piece refers to the purity of the gold sheet wrapped around the base metal. Thus, if a gold-filled pendant is ten karats, for example, the item has an outer layer made of 41.7% gold. Below that top layer, there is another metal or alloy. Most gold-filled jewelry sold is between 10 and 20 karats.
Markings of Gold-Filled Jewelry
You will find that gold-filled jewelry has a stamp of “GF,” the item’s karat number, and gold weight. For example, if you see a gold filled jewelry piece with a stamp such as “1/20 14K GF”, it is gold-filled, with an outer layer of 14 karats, and its gold content accounts for 1/20 of the weight of the piece. Items stamped with RGP (rolled gold plate) have a thinner outer gold layer than items stamped GF.
Gold-Filled Jewelry and Durability
The durability of a gold-filled item depends on the thickness of its gold layer and its karat value. It means that lower karats tend to be more durable as they contain less gold, which is soft.
Some pieces can last as long as 20-30 years. However, most gold-filled jewelry lasts between 3 and 8 years before the gold layer begins to wear through, depending on how often you put the piece on.
How is it made?
By now, you have understood the fundamental aspect of this jewelry – it is not made of pure or solid gold entirely. The gold is coated on the base metal, either sterling silver, brass, or any other metal. Now, the question remains: How is gold fused with these base metals?
Gold is fused to the base metal through the mechanical process of bonding. The gold sits on the surface of the jewelry after the heat has been applied to fuse it with the base metal. The fusion process is generally done using 10K, 12K, or even 14K gold. Depending on the quantity of gold used, it may constitute around 5% of the jewelry’s total weight.
Is Gold-filled real gold?
Yes, the gold used in the plating process is pure or real gold. Generally, you will find that gold having a karat value higher than 10K is preferred for this purpose. The most common is the 14K jewelry. This genuine gold is just present on the surface layer of the jewelry. The rest of the jewelry is made of any base metal that forms the main bulk of the jewelry item.
So even though the gold used is real, this does not mean that this jewelry is solid gold. Instead, it merely has a pure gold coating on baser metals that form the solid core.
Is it of good quality?
When we talk of good quality jewelry, then this jewelry is undoubtedly a popular choice. It owes its popularity to its durable, resistant, and highly dependable nature. Many people prefer gold filled jewelry because it lasts for quite a long time. In addition, the base metal provides a strong core that external forces cannot damage easily. On top of this, if the gold plating is done well, then it has the appearance of high-quality gold. As a result, gold filled jewelry with thick coatings hold considerable value.
The most straightforward reason why a thicker layer ensures a better quality of this jewelry is that it will last longer. Keep in mind that this gold layer will slowly start to wear out. If your jewelry is sparsely gold filled, it will lose its gold-like appearance very quickly. On the other hand, gold-filled jewelry items with a substantially generous gold filling wear out slower and last longer.
Will gold filled pass the acid test?
You can understand gold filled jewelry’s quality by its GF stamp, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC),. Overall, this is a reliable method to ascertain the value of gold filled. But there is another way to test your gold filled jewelry’s authenticity reliably. It is done using the acid test.
We can understand the results of the acid test quite easily. If the gold filled has a thick layer, it will pass the nitric acid test comfortably. So, it passes the acid test. But be careful while performing this test, and do not make a deep cut into the jewelry because it may cause extensive damage to it.
Difference Between Gold-Filled and Gold-Plated Jewelry
Gold-plated jewelry is created through a technology that is different from the one used to make its pieces. The elemental difference between the two is that plated items are covered with a much thinner layer of gold. For this reason, gold-plated pieces tend to be less durable, and their gold coating wears down faster than that of gold-filled jewelry. Understandably, gold-plated items are also cheaper.
- How long does gold filled jewelry last?
High-quality jewelry can last anywhere between 10-30 years, and sometimes even longer with good care.
- Which is better gold plated or gold filled?
The real gold in filled jewelry constitutes about 5% of its total weight. On the other hand, gold plated jewelry uses a lesser quantity of gold, and so it contains less than 5% gold of its total weight. Therefore, It is better because it has a thicker gold layer and lasts longer than gold plated jewelry.
- Can you wear gold filled jewelry everyday?
Yes, many people wear gold-filled jewelry regularly because it is highly durable and great for everyday use.
- Is gold filled jewelry worth anything?
Your gold-filled jewelry can be quite valuable depending on the thickness and karat value of gold used.
In conclusion, we can say that this jewelry has strong popularity owing to its durability and appearance. It is also of higher quality and price than regular gold plated jewelry due to the larger quantity of gold used in gold filled jewelry. Moreover, the base metal provides a solid and dependable core, and such jewelry lasts for a long time.