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Is it worth it to buy gold plated jewelry?

by Ahshad Thompson
Key Insights

It has been hundreds of thousands of years since mankind started to create and craft jewelry. From ivory, animal bones and skin to fur, shells, wood and other natural resources, people adorned themselves with ornaments. Bijouterie (this is a reference no on will get if that matters) was believed to protect its owner, prevent from impure energy or unholy spirits, not just to decorate. Ancient Egypt was undoubtedly the most prominent jewelry producer - mostly because they were to discover gold ore. Empowered with modern technology, they started to extract precious metal and gemstones and manufacture bangles and baubles. Soon after, Egyptians started to add gems and combine them with golden bracelets, rings and necklaces just to emphasize their wealth. Hence, even today so many years later, we perceive golden ornaments as a symbol of luxury, high social standing and welfare. Nowadays, it seems that yellow and white gold plated jewelry trends throughout the world, yet some people doubt the quality of gold plated jewelry. But let's hold the fort and think through gold plated jewelry. We need to take on tough questions like: What is gold plated? Is gold plated real? Finally: is it worth it to buy plated jewelry?

8.5mm GLD Link Chain in Yellow Gold

8.5mm GLD Link Chain in Yellow Gold

 

What is gold plated jewelry? And why we are gold plating things?

Quoting "Collins English Dictionary": gold plated is a specific thing covered with a layer of gold. Extending - gold plating is widely used in chemistry, IT branches, electronics, astronomy, medicine, decorative industry and - of course - jewelry. Gold plating is popular because it is way cheaper than to make things of pure, solid gold while giving the exact same appearance . This allows less expensive metals (e.g. silver, steel) to look exactly like solid gold while being able to be offered at a fraction of the cost. Moreover, gold plating highly inhibits corrosion because it does not oxidize - it is the least reactive of all metals. That means that it is impervious to moisture and high temperatures. Gold will hold up well in many environments and will not melt when subjected to high heat. Moreover, this metal encourages paint adhesion, which is vital in art industry. Same story with jewelry - our sliver and steel necklaces, pendants, earrings and signet rings gain durability, luxury look, and prevention from corrosion. Even if we need to solder certain areas of jewelry it’s comforting to know that gold enhance solderability. Therefore we can clearly see, that gold plated meaning to the industry is vital because it offers many of the attributes of solid gold at a fraction of the cost. Pay attention not to call white gold plated jewelry or gold plated jewelry fake – it’s not fake it’s a process of using less gold in order to deliver the same look for a comparably low cost. 

 

What is the quality of gold plated jewelry? How gold plating is done?

To answer the question "Is gold plated good?", let’s take a glimpse at process of the gold plating process. Before we start gold plating, we have to make sure, that our surface is proper to electroplate. Some metals, including gold itself, does not accept layers of gold. If we are assured that our underlying material is fit for being gold plated, we can begin the whole process:

  1. Prepare the surface - it must be of its highest cleanliness, so any dirt, rust, oil, etc. must be removed. We accomplish this by polishing with solvents, sandblasting and acid ultrasonic bathing.
  2. Cleaning and rinsing - now it is time to steam or electroclean the microscopic dirt. It is essential to ensure that our gold plate will not fall off in particular places. Steam cleaning swipes off any oil, dust and other soil left.
  3. Strike layer - also called a "flash layer", adheres a thin layer of high-quality nickel plating to the base metal. It is done to improve the bonding between the underlying surface and the plating. After striking, another rinse takes plase.
  4. Base coat - if a base coat below gold is used, it is usually nickel but GLD never uses nickel. Instead we use our own process that guarantees a higher level of gold without the mediocrity of nickel.
  5. Final coat - with time, temperature and voltage carefully controlled, the piece is submerged into the plating solution to attract ions of gold that will show on the surface.
  6. Rinsing and drying - after the final coating, gold plating can be finished by rinsing the goods and being left to dry.

As you can see, the whole process is rather elaborate and precise, so quality of gold plated jewelry is - without any doubts - very high. Only can we say is gold plated good, when it is done carefully and without cutting corners like adding nickel.

 

Franco Chain (3mm)

Franco Chain (3mm)

 

Is gold plated real? And is it worth to buy it?

As we mentioned before - gold plating is a process, much different than basic crafted gold ornaments. What is gold plated jewelry? Definitely not a pure gold item. We cannot state that gold plated meaning is equal to pure gold, but we can say that real gold is plated onto the the jewelry which yields the same appearence at a fraction of the cost. For instance, given that it is not a solid gold - prices of gold-plated jewelry are respectively cheaper. 24k gold - defined as "100% gold" is enlisted for $41,5/gram. Quick market check-up: Cuban link pure gold chains costs $400 or more, whereas the price of the same, but gold-plated model is sold from $79 and up. We can conclude that white gold plated jewelry is up to 5x cheaper than fine gold. If the piece is crafted properly, the purchaser can expect a very fine look that emulates solid gold construction and be undetectable to anyone but a jeweler with a testing kit. Considering the price differential, gold-plated jewelry is preferable to colored jewelry which often has a color quality very off from gold and far less expensive than investing 5x or more for solid gold particulary if the piece may be transient in your collection.

Rope Chain (4mm)

Rope Chain (4mm)

Considering all the above – the value of gold-plated jewelry is obviously lower than pure gold pieces. As was previously indicated, the value may be lower but the pieces come at significantly reduced prices. That single fact protects the owner against theft, loss, or just simply growing tired of the piece or it becoming outdated. GLD is completely confident in our process and crafting pieces for you that appear as real as can be at significantly lower prices. In the end, we stand behind our labor with a lifetime guarantee. Gold plated jewelry is not fake – it’s real gold covering another material to save you money and risk. If you decide to go all in for solid gold, we got you and all of our pieces can be purchased in solid gold.