Gold jewelry has stood the test of time. From the extravagant displays on ancient Egyptians to English royalty, it was previously used to indicate wealth and power. These days, with so many different types of gold in jewelry being readily available, this stunning aesthetic is no longer exclusive to the upper class, as you can find the perfect adornment to suit your budget and lifestyle. To ensure you select the ideal finish, our guide to different types of gold jewelry can help you feel confident in your selection.
Types of Gold for Jewelry
There are four types of gold jewelry finishes: gold-plated, gold-filled, vermeil and solid gold. Each type contains different quantities of gold which affects the color, price and durability.
Gold plating is where a low-quality base metal, usually aluminum, nickel, copper or an alloy, is covered or plated with a layer of gold. This layering occurs through an electroplating process where the metal is put into a solution with a lump of gold. An electrical current is applied to the solution and causes a thin layer of gold to deposit onto the metal. Electroplating is one of the most common and affordable techniques for making gold jewelry.
This gold jewelry finish is ideal for smaller budgets, casual pieces, or items you want to wear every day. With heavy gold plating, 2 to 3 microns, and proper jewelry care, you can be confident that the color and shine on your piece will last years before the gold starts to wear away and require re-plating.
Unlike the name implies, this type of jewelry is not filled with gold. Rather, a thick layer of gold is bonded to a metal such as brass or copper. The percentage of gold must be at least 5% of the total jewelry weight, which makes this finish thicker and, therefore, more durable than gold-plated pieces. Most jewelers will use 14K gold for this process, and the finish can last up to 30 years before it starts to show wear. The benefit of gold-filled jewelry is you can have the aesthetics of 14K gold yet with more durability and minus the price tag of a solid gold piece. It is also hypoallergenic, so ideal if you have a sensitivity to certain metals.
Gold Vermeil Jewelry
Gold vermeil is the premium standard for gold plating. Pronounced “ver-may,” this process uses sterling silver as a base metal and must have a minimum gold plating of 2.5 microns. This gold jewelry finish is made via the same electroplating process as gold plating; however, it is the sterling silver base metal that is the main difference. The finished pieces are nickel-free and are perfect if you have a nickel allergy. Gold vermeil jewelry is sturdy and long-lasting, so it is a popular choice for many artisans and clients who desire quality pieces without being too expensive.
Solid Gold Jewelry
While you may think this type of jewelry is 100% gold, that is not the case as it would be too expensive and soft for most pieces. However, unlike the other gold jewelry finishes, this variety is the only one to have gold mixed in with another metal to create a sturdy and durable alloy. The higher the gold content in the metal, the larger the karat number given to the jewelry. For example, 24K means that the jewelry contains 24 parts gold. There are also 18K, 14K and 10K options which contain less gold in the alloy and are often more affordable and durable, making them ideal if you lead an active lifestyle or want to wear your jewelry every day. The other advantage of solid gold jewelry is that the color won’t fade or tarnish, as with plated pieces. You can swim, shower and sweat without worry while wearing your jewelry and confidently know that it will maintain its high-quality finish.
Gold Jewelry Care
With all types of gold jewelry, you can refresh and maintain its appearance with proper care. You can keep the sparkle and shine of solid gold jewelry by cleaning with baking soda and lemon juice, take your plated necklace, rings and bracelets off when you go swimming or have a shower, and wipe each piece with a soft cloth to remove dirt, oil and body lotion. If you have pieces that you only wear on special occasions, then be sure to store them in an airtight container for optimal protection. You can also bring in your gold jewelry, and our skilled and experienced professionals will provide exceptional repair and clean services.
Create Custom Gold Jewelry with JPratt Designs
As a custom jeweler, we can assist you in creating a stunning and unique piece of gold jewelry with precious gems. We provide a comprehensive consultation and design process and high-quality craftsmanship, so you wear a beautiful piece of jewelry to suit your lifestyle, personality and budget.