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How to Look for Quality Gold Plating on Jewelry

How to Look for Quality Gold Plating on Jewelry

Key Insights
  • Explaining Gold Plated Jewelry 
  • The Top Quality Indicator: Gold Layer Thickness
  • Beneath the Surface: Looking at the Base Metal
  • Recognizing Quality Plating Methods
  • Checking for Hallmarks and Stamps
  • Understanding Karat Ratings
  • Caring for Gold Plated Jewelry
  • Make Sure You’re Buying from a Good Brand
  • Get the Dopest Gold Plated Jewelry in the Game 

Gold plated jewelry has long been a favorite for many, offering the shine and luxurious touch of solid gold without the higher price tag. 

However, not all gold plating is created equal. Knowing how to identify high-quality gold plating can save you from costly mistakes and ensure you're getting value for your money. 

If you’re looking for quality gold plated pieces, we got you. In this guide, we will cover the nuances of high-quality gold plating, why it stands out from the rest, and the critical factors to consider when shopping for the best in gold plated jewelry.

Explaining Gold Plated Jewelry 

Gold plating refers to the process of applying a thin layer of gold onto the surface of another base metal, typically stainless steel. When done correctly, gold plating can be both beautiful and durable. 

One of the main advantages of gold plated jewelry is its affordability. Gold plating offers the beauty of gold at a fraction of the cost. However, this doesn't mean you should settle for subpar quality. By knowing what to look for, you can find stunning gold plated pieces that will stand the test of time, even when worn on the daily. 

The Top Quality Indicator: Gold Layer Thickness

The thickness of the gold layer is a major factor in determining the quality of gold plated jewelry. A thicker layer means more gold has been used, which can result in a more durable and longer-lasting finish. The thickness of the gold layer is typically measured in units called microns. 

A typical range for gold plating thickness is between 0.5 to 2.5 microns. Jewelry with a gold layer of less than 1 micron will often wear out quickly, leading to the base metal showing through. On the other hand, a piece with a thickness of 2.5 microns will be more durable and less prone to wear and tear.

It's also essential to consider how the jewelry will be used. For pieces that will see frequent wear, like rings or bracelets, it's advisable to go for a thicker gold layer. Earrings or pendants, which are less exposed to wear, can have a slightly thinner layer.

Additionally, remember that a thicker gold layer can also affect the price. While it might be more expensive upfront, investing in a piece with a thicker gold layer can save you money in the long run as it will require less frequent replacements or repairs.

Beneath the Surface: Looking at the Base Metal

The base metal that's used in gold plated jewelry can significantly impact its overall quality and durability. Some cheaper ones like nickel or aluminum can cause skin irritation and are generally weaker than other options. 

Overall, the best base metal to choose is surgical-grade stainless steel. It will not tarnish underneath the gold, it bonds to the gold layer exceptionally well, and it will also hold strong without any fear of it breaking on you. At GLD, we go a step further and make sure we only use 316L surgical-grade stainless steel - the same type of material that is used in making medical instruments in hospital settings. 

As a final note here, if the brand you’re shopping does not disclose the base metals that they use somewhere on their website, keep that in mind. You deserve to know all the metals that you’re rocking on your neck, wrist, or anywhere else on your body. 

Recognizing Quality Plating Methods

There are several methods used to apply the gold layer to the base metal, and the method used can influence the quality of the finished piece. The most common methods include electroplating, mechanical plating, and immersion gold plating.

Electroplating is a process where an electric current is used to deposit gold onto the base metal. This method allows for precise control over the thickness of the gold layer, resulting in a smooth and even finish. High-quality gold plated jewelry is often produced using the electroplating method.

Mechanical plating, on the other hand, involves using a rotating barrel filled with gold powder, water, and glass beads. As the barrel rotates, the gold particles bond to the surface of the base metal. While this method is less precise than electroplating, it can still produce quality results when done correctly.

Immersion gold plating is a simpler process where the chosen base metal is immersed in a solution containing gold ions. The gold ions bond to the metal's surface, forming a thin layer. While this method is quick and cost-effective, it can result in a less durable finish.

Checking for Hallmarks and Stamps

One of the easiest ways to verify the quality of gold plated jewelry is to check for hallmarks or stamps. These markings can provide valuable information about the piece's gold content and the base metal used.

For example, a piece marked "GP" indicates that it is gold plated, while "GEP" stands for gold electroplated. If you see the term "vermeil," it means the piece is gold plated over .925 sterling silver.

The thickness of the gold layer can also sometimes be found in the hallmark. For instance, "1/20 14K GP" means the jewelry has a gold layer equivalent to 1/20th the total weight of the item and is 14 karat gold.

In addition to gold content, hallmarks can also provide information about the base metal. For example, "925" indicates sterling silver, while "375" means the base metal is 9 karat gold.

Finally, look if the brand itself has stamped its name or its logo somewhere on the metal itself. This indicates that the pieces are unique to them and not generic ones ordered in bulk from a catalog in a mass production facility. 

For example, at GLD, we always make sure that we put our name on our pieces. We’re proud of them, and we want you to feel confident rocking them. Whenever you open or close the chain clasps, you’ll feel our G logo or the full GLD name - giving you the confidence that you’re wearing a quality piece to complete your fit. 

Understanding Karat Ratings

The karat rating of gold plated jewelry refers to the gold content's purity. Pure gold is 24 karats, but it's often mixed with other metals to enhance its strength and durability. The karat rating indicates the proportion of gold in the alloy.

For example, 14 karat gold is made up of 14 parts gold and 10 parts other metals. This means it has a gold content of approximately 58.3%. Similarly, 18 karat gold consists of 18 parts gold and 6 parts other metals, translating to a gold content of about 75%.

When evaluating gold plated jewelry, it's essential to consider the karat rating. Higher karat ratings indicate a higher gold content, but more gold means a softer metal. A 14K or 18K piece will be tougher and more durable than one that is 24K.

Learn More: What does 18k gold plated mean? 

Caring for Gold Plated Jewelry

To ensure the longevity of your gold plated jewelry, it's crucial to care for it properly to keep it looking and shining its best. 

First, avoid exposing your jewelry to chemicals, including perfumes, lotions, and cleaning products. These can corrode the gold layer and diminish its shine. Let any cosmetics dry on your skin before putting on your jewelry. 

When storing gold plated jewelry, keep it in a soft pouch or a jewelry box, away from other pieces that might scratch it. It's also a good idea to remove your jewelry before activities that might cause wear, such as exercising or doing household chores. 

If you don’t have a jewelry box, get a stand where you can hang the chains and bracelets when not in use. This keeps them high up and away from other objects or surfaces that could be rough or abrasive, in addition to making them easy to see and reach for when you’re ready to head out for the day. 

Most high-quality gold plated jewelry will not need to be cleaned on a regular basis. However, when you do, use a soft cloth and a mild soap to delicately clean the surface. Then, rinse with warm water briefly and pat it dry. 

Learn More: How to take care of a gold chain

Make Sure You’re Buying from a Good Brand

Finally, when you’re ready to actually purchase a piece of gold plated jewelry, do some research into the brand. Look for key indicators of quality like:

  • Third-party ratings: Do they have a good rating from a third-party authority like TrustPilot or the Better Business Bureau? Do they also share it on their website? 
  • Transparency about materials: Do they list the karat ratings of their gold plating? Do they not try to hide the fact that it is gold-plated? 
  • Partnerships with influencers: Are they working with celebrities, artists, athletes, and other types of influencers that rock their pieces?
  • Collabs with other brands: Are they collabing with other brands that are reputable like major sports leagues or media franchises? 
  • Exclusive pieces: Does the brand have pieces that look sturdy, well-built, and exclusive to them? 

Keep these in mind when you’re checking out jewelry shops online. You’ll quickly be able to tell which ones are offering jewelry of quality and others that are reselling generic options. 

Get the Dopest Gold Plated Jewelry in the Game 

We started GLD with the mission to provide the dopest-quality jewelry in the game at a price that’s affordable for everyone, along with premium options for those that are ready to take their collection to the next level. Backed by the GLD Gang, we’re proud to be supported by some of the biggest brands, artists, and athletes in the world that stand behind our craftsmanship. 

If you’re ready to get a gold plated chain to complete your fit, shop our full collection or hit us up anytime to learn more about our pieces. All pieces are backed by a lifetime guarantee to ensure you’ll always be looking and feeling your best.