Gold-filled jewellery is the closest thing you can get to solid gold jewellery, with the quality, durability and exact appearance of solid gold, without the premium price tag. Then comes gold vermeil (more on that later), and finally gold plated.
Gold-filled Precious Hearts pieces are made by heat and pressure bonding 3 microns of gold to high-quality jewellers brass or wire, which results in a thick layer of solid gold highly resistant to every day wear.
Gold-filled jewellery is tarnish resistant, hypoallergenic and skin friendly and usually safe for showering and bathing. While it can discolour or tarnish if the Care Instructions are not followed, it lasts considerably longer than any other gold option on the market.
If you are looking for a forever piece that you are guaranteed will never tarnish or fade, solid gold is the only option and for any Precious Hearts piece would cost at least $250-$500 due to the price of pure gold in today’s market (AUD$80 per gram). Most Precious Hearts pendants are 3-5 grams.
How do I know if my jewellery is gold filled?
Legally, gold-filled items must be advertised as such. While it is illegal and misleading for any store to refer to products as ‘gold’ when they are not, many still do.
A few ways to determine whether a piece is solid gold, gold-filled or gold plated:
- Solid gold comes with a significantly higher price tag. No store, no matter how large, can escape the price of raw gold and will need to charge accordingly for it.
- If a store refers to their products as “gold-filled with a Sterling Silver core”, this is actually more likely to be Gold Vermeil, which means your product would contain significantly less gold than you believe. There is no reason for a 5% layer of gold to be bonded to a metal as expensive as Sterling Silver as it should never be seen. So it stands to reason that ‘Gold Filled jewellery with a Sterling Silver core’ is being mis-advertised, which is unfortunately very common on Marketplaces like Etsy and Ebay, regardless of how many sales the Shop may have made.
- Gold-filled pieces have a very small ’20’ stamp somewhere near the top of the pendant, or elsewhere on a chain. If this stamp is not visible, it is very likely not gold-filled.
- Gold plated jewellery is usually very glossy in appearance, due to the many processes it goes through for the gold to adhere to the metal, often including Nickel and Copper. Just like real gold, gold-filled jewellery has a softer sheen to it.
Pure Gold is a very soft precious metal, and is far too soft to be used on its own without being mixed with harder metals and alloys. A sheet of gold and a sheet of cardboard from a cereal box would bend in much the same way.
“100% solid gold” isn’t actually 100% gold. The highest purity of Solid Gold you can purchase is 24K (24 carats) and refers to the percentage of gold versus the other metals present, usually silver, copper, platinum, palladium and zinc to give the piece strength and durability. 24k means there is 100% gold, 14K gold means there is 58.3% gold. The higher the karatage, the more you can expect to pay for the piece.
While a 24K gold piece would be more valuable due to its gold content, it would quickly lose its value as it would deteriorate extremely quickly with use.
This is why Precious Hearts uses 14k gold. The soft buttery colour goes with every skin tone, while being durable enough to withstand daily wear.
24 Karat: 100% solid gold.
14 Karat: 58.3% gold. 14/24 karats are gold.
14K/20 or 18K/20 Gold Filled: 5% gold.
Gold Vermeil: 0.5-1% gold.
Gold Plated: 0.05% gold.
Gold Filled vs Gold Plated
What is Gold Plated?
Gold plated jewellery has a very thin layer of gold (0.05%), electroplated to a base metal such as brass, copper or nickel. Other metals are usually plated to the core first to add durability and fill imperfections in the base metal, then gold is plated over it.
The durability of the gold plating is always an unknown as no one really knows how long the piece has been left to plate onto the piece for; the longer it is left in the solution, the more durable it would be. But since it isn’t able to be measured, most jewellers electroplate for the shortest amount of time possible until the piece is adequately covered. This means the jewellery is likely to fade quickly with wear.
Gold Filled vs Gold Vermeil
What is Gold Vermeil?
Gold Vermeil jewellery is almost exactly the same as gold plated jewellery, however the base metal is always Sterling Silver. The plating may also be thicker however again, this is an unknown until you have owned your piece for several weeks/months. Should the gold wear off quickly, this indicates the piece was not electroplated for long.
Which is best?
This is dependant on a range of things including your budget, how sentimental the piece is to you, and how willing you are to take it off before swimming and showering. Every day jewellery that you can wear permanently should probably be solid gold and gold filled if your budget allows.
Gold filled can still tarnish even when it is well looked after, as some peoples body chemistry is actually more acidic and can wear off the gold faster too.
How do I care for gold-filled jewellery?
The thicker the layer of gold, the longer it will last, however no piece will ever last forever unless it is Solid Gold, so gold-filled pieces do require more TLC than an engagement or wedding ring would (which also require regular maintenance).
Gold is a soft metal and is simply not as durable as we’d all love it to be, it is beautiful nonetheless and a metal like no other.
For more information on caring for your Precious Hearts piece, read more here.