Everybody loves gold jewelry. It’s classic—not to mention it looks good all the time and on everyone. But gold pieces differ from one another. In fact, you need to know about the type of gold piece you’ll be wearing before you buy it. The gold pieces you should choose depends on your preferences—for example, your budget, how often you wear jewelry, and the time you want to commit to taking care of it. That’s why we wanted to create a guide to help you better understand the four different types of gold jewelry.
Gold plating is a common technique in the world of jewelry. Gold-plated or gold-dipped jewelry pieces feature a base metal like aluminum, copper, or nickel with a light layer of gold on top. These pieces contain a small amount of gold—at least 0.5 microns—and the gold layer’s thickness varies between different makers. Jewelers will add the gold quickly by utilizing electroplating. An electric current negatively charges the base metal but positively charges a solution that has gold ions in it. The base metal charge attracts the gold ions, resulting in that gold layer we mentioned.
Gold-plated jewelry looks luxurious, and when it comes to gold pieces, it’s the most affordable option. So when you want to experiment with trends or need a unique accessory for a specific occasion, we feel gold-plated items are the right move.
There is one downside, though: because the gold layers on these pieces are so thin that they’ll often rub off over time. They can even discolor your skin. But we don’t want you to experience these issues with our pieces. We prioritize our jewelry’s plating quality and ensure our gold-plated items last longer than others out there.
One step up from gold-plated jewelry is gold vermeil (pronounced “ver-may”). To create a vermeil piece, jewelers use a gold plating technique. They will usually use electroplating to add gold plating over .925 sterling silver. US standards require that these pieces contain at least 2.5 microns of gold or more. What’s nice about gold vermeil pieces is that they won’t tarnish, so many people see these items as inexpensive alternatives to solid gold jewelry. Plus, because vermeil doesn’t contain nickel, it’s hypoallergenic as well. If you own—or want to own—gold vermeil pieces, we suggest gently cleaning the jewelry on a regular basis. That way, you can remove dirt and oil from your pieces and keep them shining.
Many vermeil pieces showcase 12K gold, but you should know that our gold vermeil products boast 14K and 18K gold. This is where we need to talk about karatage. We can measure the proportion of gold compared to other metals in pieces with karats, and the fewer karats in your piece, the less gold the jeweler used to create it. We make sure you’re getting the most gold possible.
Rather than dipping jewelry, jewelers can also craft gold-filled pieces. They can mechanically bond a thick layer or sheet of solid gold to jeweler’s brass, which is a blend of mostly copper with some zinc. Often, people think gold-plated and gold-filled jewelry is the same, but the manufacturing processes differ. Even though this process is a form of gold plating, it doesn’t include electroplating. Instead, it involves pressure and heat. Also, technically, gold-filled pieces are dissimilar from gold-plated pieces because the gold alloy layers are thicker. At the same time, gold-filled jewelry contains more gold than vermeil. Gold-filled pieces need to contain at least 5 percent gold by weight. Like vermeil, however, gold-filled jewelry is safe for sensitive wearers. Plus, it’s highly unlikely that gold-filled jewelry will tarnish and fade, and they have tough exteriors that are crack- and scratch-resistant.
In terms of gold jewelry quality, solid gold is the best. However, we urge you not to confuse solid gold with pure gold—or 24K gold—which is soft and won’t keep its shape unless a jeweler combines it with other metals. Solid gold is a gold alloy that remains consistent through a piece of jewelry. To put it another way, essentially, your piece is made entirely from one material. And, best of all, you can rock solid gold jewelry every single day, so your staple jewelry should fall in this category. This way, you don’t have to worry that your favorite pieces will look bad after a while. They’ll look as good as the day you got them.
Trust us—these pieces are worth the investment because of their longevity and how well they retain their high value. Solid gold pieces are also the least likely to irritate sensitive skin out of all the other types of gold jewelry. People think solid gold jewelry is unattainable and expensive, but we promise that you won’t be disappointed in these items.
As you read through our guide, you probably thought about yellow gold the entire time, but when you combine alloys with gold, you can create jewelry pieces in different colors. For example, silver and gold make white gold, and copper and gold make rose gold. Like yellow gold, rose gold and white gold are incredibly popular.
There you have it—the four different types of gold jewelry. We hope this guide helped you better recognize jewelry terminology and inspired you to look at your own pieces and think about what’s missing from your collection. If you need more gold in your life, check out our huge online selection. You can shop gold chains, bracelets, rings, and more through Gold Presidents now.
What makes our pieces superior? We craft everything with the finest materials. Also, we test all our jewelry before you get it to check for quality during every stage of the production process. Our pieces meet Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Jewelry Vigilance Committee regulations, so you can always anticipate quality from us. Also, we offer a Lifetime Guarantee add-on for all purchases. By buying through Gold Presidents, you can keep the jewelry that you love most for longer.
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