Gold Fill, Gold Plate, Solid Gold

Which ones best, how are they made, and how do they hold up?

I want to discuss the different gold metals available. Of course, everyone knows about solid gold; 14K, 24K etc.

In addition to solid gold there is gold plated and gold filled, also called rolled gold. Which one is best, how are they made, and how do they hold up?

The differences between the 3?

Solid Gold: Solid gold is a precious metal that comes out of the earth. It is of course too soft in this state to be used in jewelry and is usually mixed with copper or silver to increase its strength. 14K gold will have more copper or silver mixed in 22K will have less.

  • 24K is 100% gold
  • 22k is 91% gold and 9% other metals
  • 20k is 80% gold and 20% other metals
  • 18k is 75% gold and 25% other metals
  • 14k is 58% gold and 42% other metals
  • 10k is 41% gold and 59% other metals

To be considered gold in the United States and item must be at least 10k.

Compared to the other metals solid, or karat gold, is the most expensive to purchase.

Gold Plated: Gold plated metal has a thin layer of gold deposited over a base metal such as copper or silver. This plating is made by electrically charging the gold to the base metal and is done by placing the base metal into a solution that contains gold and electrically charging it for just an instant. This results in a very thin layer of gold being applied that will rub off on the skin or loosen due to natural body oil. Once the electric charge wears off the gold can come off in larger pieces. This type of metal is the least expensive.

Gold Fill: Gold filled metal is made by bonding a layer of gold, usually 100 times thicker than plating, to a base metal, usually sterling silver or brass, using high heat and pressure. To be considered gold filled the amount of gold must be at least 1/20th the total weight. This results in a metal that is very durable and does not flake off or rub off. It is much less expensive than solid gold. For a more comprehensive look at how gold fill is made check out Artisan Plating.

Gold Differences

How durable is this stuff?

Ack! My skins turning green!

Most of us have had the dreaded experience when we take a piece of jewelry off and find that the skin underneath has turned this lovely shade of Shrek green with a hint of Smurf blue. You can expect this from anything made with gold plating. It happens as the plating wears off leaving the base metal exposed. It usually take 3 days for a plated ring to turn my finger green, but I’ve had some do it within a few hours.

We of course know that solid gold will absolutely not turn your skin green, unless you have some weird allergy that is! Gold fill metal doesn’t turn your skin green either and it wears just like solid gold. If taken care of properly it can be passed down as family heirloom. Like solid gold, gold filled metal will eventually tarnish. To clean it you just need to use a polishing cloth or soft soapy water.

What I think
My personal observations and more

Personally I’ve never been much of a gold person, the gold plated stuff turned my skin green, never mind the rash I get, and solid gold is way out of my budget. Finding gold fill has changed my opinion of that and I now have a pair of gold fill earrings that I made and wear every day. They cost much less to make, look great with no icky Shrek green or allergic reaction.

So if you like the look of gold but can’t afford solid gold and hate having your skin or your customers skin turn green consider gold filled beads and findings.

For more information check out the FTC facts on buying jewelry.

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