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Is Gold Plated Real Gold? Let's Find Out

Is Gold Plated Real Gold? Let's Find Out

Key Insights
  • The 100% Truth About Gold Plated Jewelry 
  • So, Why Buy Gold Plated? 
  • Solid Gold Jewelry 
  • How Should I Buy Gold Plated Jewelry? 
  • Metal Quality 
  • Reputation of the Brand 
  • Construction Quality 
  • Get Quality Gold Jewelry You Can Trust

You’re shopping for the perfect piece to upgrade your style. Whether it’s a chain, a bracelet, or something else that catches your eye, you might find the term “gold plated” frequently used in product descriptions when browsing online. 

What does that term mean, though? If you’re shopping for real gold items, are you going to get something legit if it is gold plated? 

We got you. In this guide, we’re going to cover absolutely everything you need to know about shopping for gold plated jewelry. Let’s start by explaining what gold plated jewelry is. 

The 100% Truth About Gold Plated Jewelry 

If you’re reading up on gold plated jewelry, you’re going to find many articles that dance around the subject of whether gold plated is real gold or not. We’re not going to do that here. This is the 100% honest truth: 

Gold plated jewelry contains real gold, but it is not solid gold. Instead of the piece being made 100% of solid gold, it involves a base metal like stainless steel with an outer layer of gold applied to it. In turn, this creates a piece with the appearance and shine of solid gold but without the higher price tag. 

This is why gold plated pieces are more affordable than solid gold. A more common metal like stainless steel acts as a strong base, giving the piece a lightweight yet durable foundation to hold up when worn either on the daily or saved for special occasions. 

Does this mean that gold plated is “bad” or “fake.” No, it’s one of the most popular types of jewelry on the market today due to its affordability and quality when purchased from the right brand. While it is not solid gold, a reputable brand will be transparent about this and not try to pass it off as something more expensive. 

Learn More: Is Gold Plated Jewelry Worth It? 

So, Why Buy Gold Plated? 

If you’ve just read the above, you might be wondering if gold plated jewelry is worth it for your collection. Here are some reasons why you might choose it when considering your options. 

Affordability: The appearance of jewelry is subjective, but price tags aren’t. If you want something affordable for your budget, a high-quality gold plated piece is your best bet. It’ll provide the look that you want without you having to overspend. 

Versatility: Because gold plated pieces are more affordable than solid gold, they are easier way to keep up with different styles that are trending. You can more easily buy a new chain if you want to change up your look. 

Higher karats: Gold’s purity is measured in karats (k). 24k gold, which is pure gold, is a metal that’s too soft for most jewelry. Instead, using a higher-karat gold as the outer layer of a gold plated piece lets you get a higher karat at a fraction of the cost of a solid piece. For example, at GLD we finish most of our gold-plated pieces with 14 to 18k gold

Durability: Another important factor to consider when buying jewelry is durability. Gold plated jewelry, with its base metal and a layer of gold on top, offers a great balance of durability and style. The base metal, often stainless steel or brass, provides strength and resistance to wear and tear. This means your gold plated piece can withstand daily use better than some softer, high-karat solid gold items. This durability is especially beneficial for items like rings or bracelets, which are more prone to knocks and scrapes.

It’s understandable that gold plated won’t be for everyone. If you are able and willing to invest more into your jewelry, you might find that solid gold is your preferred option. 

Solid Gold Jewelry 

Solid gold jewelry is just that - a piece made with solid gold. There are no base metals, outer layers, or any other additions. It’s all made from the same precious metal. 

Solid gold’s biggest differences from gold plated jewelry are its material composition, higher price, and long-term investment value. Here are some other deciding factors that might help you choose between gold plated and solid gold: 

  • Heavier weight: Solid gold is heavier than stainless steel. For example, 10k solid gold has a density of about 11.5 g/cm³ to 12.7 g/cm³ while stainless steel has a density of about 8 g/cm.
  • Investment value: While solid gold usually costs more, it also has more long-term investment value than a gold-plated piece. If you are building a collection you hope to sell all or some of later in life, going for solid pieces is the best move. 
  • Skin sensitivity: Some cheaper gold-plated pieces will have a base metal that could cause an allergic reaction. Solid gold is hypoallergenic and will not cause a reaction. 

How Should I Buy Gold Plated Jewelry? 

Not all gold-plated jewelry is made the same. There are many brands out there that are picking pre-made, generic pieces out of a catalog, selling them at a markup and are not doing much in the way of quality assurance.

You deserve better than that. If you’re looking to save with gold plated jewelry but still rock a quality piece that can give you the confidence you’re looking for, here are some points to keep in mind: 

Metal Quality 

As we already said, gold plated jewelry can include a variety of base metals. From aluminum to nickel, copper, stainless steel, and more - the base metal matters. 

Look for one that has a high-quality, hypoallergenic base metal. For example 316L surgical grade stainless steel is hypoallergenic, lightweight, durable, and will not corrode. 

Beyond the base metal, the finishing metal should also be accounted for. It should have a high karat, such as 14k, 18k, or 22k that provides an eye-catching final look that will draw attention when you’re wearing it. 

Finally, transparency about the materials is the most important. You want to receive something that matches up to your expectations. Make sure the brand is disclosing the type base metal, gold karat rating, types of stones used, and pictures to back them up. 

Reputation of the Brand 

What brand are you considering buying from? Do they have a legit online presence or do they have a simple storefront on a general eCommerce platform with little information about their company? 

Do some research into the brand. Look for key indicators of quality like: 

  • High ratings on credible third-party websites like Trustpilot and the Better Business Bureau 
  • High ratings from customers who have bought their products and left reviews 
  • Features of their products from notable content creators and influencers on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram 
  • Endorsements and collaborations with notable public figures like music artists, professional athletes, and other celebrities. 
  • Guarantees and warranties on their items to ensure quality and customer satisfaction. 

Construction Quality 

Look at the photos of the pieces the brand offers, especially ones left by customers reviewing the products. Look for a smooth, even plating surface along with tight link spacing, sturdy clasp construction, and if there are stones - they’re spaced evenly and set securely. 

Get Quality Gold Jewelry You Can Trust

Alright, let’s sum up what we’ve covered so far. 

Yes, gold plated jewelry contains real gold, but it’s not 100% solid gold. That being said, it does offer advantages like affordability, durability, and the ability to swap styles quickly. It may not have the same level of long-term value that solid gold has, but if you’re looking for something simple to wear on a daily basis, it can be a smart investment rather than putting a solid gold piece through intense wear and tear. 

Ultimately, it’s up to you, your personal taste, budget, and what you value the most when buying a piece of jewelry. There’s no right or wrong way to select the right jewelry for your needs. However, make sure that you’re buying from a brand that stands behind its quality and is transparent with you about the materials they use. 

If you’re looking to take your jewelry game to the next level, we got you. At GLD, all of our gold plated and solid gold pieces are backed by our commitment to quality, countless 5-star reviews, and a lifetime guarantee that ensures you’ll be taken care of if there’s anything wrong with your piece. 

To get started, shop our full collection of gold chains or hit us up anytime to learn more.