Gold, karat, gold filled, gold plated. What does it all mean? Let's go over different terms used with gold jewelry so that you know exactly what you’re buying when you shop for gold.
Gold is extremely malleable and doesn’t rust over time, which makes it great for jewelry. Because gold is very soft, it’s usually mixed with other metals to make it more durable. The ratio of gold to other metals in a jewelry piece is its karat. You’ll see it marked with the letter “k” on jewelry, the higher the karat number the purer the gold. Items made from pure gold will be marked as 24 karat. At 24 karats the jewelry is more likely to scratch and warp. So the most common type used in jewelry is 14 karat gold; the alloy will be more resistant to damage.
Gold is naturally a rich yellow color, but mixing it with other metals will give you a different color. The pretty pink hue from rose gold is created by combining pure gold with silver and copper. On the other hand, white gold is made by mixing pure gold with white metals like palladium or silver. Like any other jewelry, regular wear can dull the piece. To maintain the glossy shine from gold jewelry, polish your gold jewelry regularly.
While gold jewelry is a great addition to any jewelry collection, not all jewelry is available in pure gold or it might be cost prohibitive. Let’s go over other variations of gold jewelry that are more budget friendly.
Plated gold jewelry
Gold electroplated jewelry usually involves a thin layer of gold layered onto a base metal, like brass, copper or other metals. While the plating can wear down, with good care, gold electroplated jewelry can last a long time and cost a fraction of the price.
But not all gold electroplated jewelry is the same. Vermeil plated jewelry retains much of the monetary value of the precious metal. This is because it uses a thicker layer of gold than other plating methods that’s bonded to a solid sterling silver base.
PVD plating is a plating method used to coat steel or titanium jewelry. A very thin but extremely hard coating adheres to the jewelry, and it can give your jewelry the look of either yellow or rose gold without the price tag of the real thing. PVD plated jewelry tends to be less reactive to the elements and more resistant to scratching than unplated metal despite how thin the coating layer is.
Gold filled jewelry
Another term you’ll see is gold filled jewelry, which is a little deceiving. The jewelry isn’t actually filled with gold. It’s made with a solid layer of gold, usually 14 karat or less, and is mechanically bonded to a base, often jeweler’s brass. Despite its common use with lower quality base metals, it is usually safe for people with sensitive skin because the thickness of the gold sheet insulates the piercing from exposure to it.
As you shop for gold, take into account the qualities you most desire and how you can find the best value for your needs. Ready to shop for gold jewelry? We have tons of options in yellow gold, rose gold, and white gold. Each product page will list the material the jewelry is made from so you know exactly what you’re getting.
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