I get asked a lot about the difference between gold filled and gold plated (or more fancily stated gold vermeil) so I decided to use this blog to clear up any confusion!
I use only gold filled wire and chain in ALL my work, exceptions include sterling silver and solid 14k. There are times when I will use a component that is laced in 24k gold plated, and if so I will clearly state it in the description.
I found this wonderful article describing the difference between the two which I will share with you:
What Does Gold-Plated Mean?
If you have ever purchased jewelry in the past, you may have seen the term gold-plated. Also called gold-plate, this is a method of covering another type of metal with a very thin, almost microscopic, film of pure gold by electroplating it. Some businesses refer to gold-plated jewelry as gold-overlay; however, these are essentially the same things.
Among the biggest benefits of gold-plated items is the fact that it is fairly strong. Gold is a soft metal, and it is easily susceptible to nicks, dents, and bending. Gold-plating can lend an attractive finish to a piece that must be sturdy and durable. The downside is that the gold finish on gold-plated items can begin to chip and wear away over time. Additionally, some items may be prone to tarnishing.
What Does Gold-Filled Mean?
Gold-filled jewelry is much more valuable than gold-plated. In fact, there is almost 100 percent more gold in gold-filled items than is found in gold-plated items. Just as gold-plated jewelry is plated with gold, gold-filled jewelry is as well, but there is a big difference between the ways these products are made.
Gold-filled items have a much thicker layer of gold on them, and the gold is a much higher quality. In fact, it is just a step down from solid gold when it comes to quality and value. Speaking of solid gold, pure gold is very soft and is not a good choice for jewelry; that is why an alloy is almost always used for gold jewelry items, even in jewelry pieces worth an incredible amount of money.
Gold-filled items also use a gold alloy, which can be very strong depending on the karat of the gold that is used. Remember that the lower karats of gold tend to be a bit stronger, 14 karat gold being an example. A higher karat of gold indicates a higher purity, and while that means the gold piece itself is more valuable, the metal will be a little softer. As a frame of reference, keep in mind that 24 karat gold is pure gold and, thus, the softest form of gold available. Buyers who are looking for a more durable jewelry piece may want to opt for a lower karat.
You won't need to worry about gold-filled jewelry tarnishing, and even if you have an allergy to certain metals, you won't have to worry about allergies from metals such as nickel. You can't say the same about gold-plated jewelry.
And a wonderful way to keep your gold filled piece looking new is to occasionally soak it in mild soapy water for about a half hour (do not include the stone, especially selenite!) and then simply use a paper towel or a soft cloth to wipe it clean.