Gold vs. Gold-Plated: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to gold jewellery, looks can be deceiving. A gold necklace from one brand could cost under $50 while a similar-looking chain from another could run you closer to a couple hundred. So, what’s the difference? The short answer is that some gold jewellery doesn’t contain very much gold at all, but it’s more complicated than just slapping on a label and declaring it real or fake. Here’s everything you need to know about the different types of gold jewellery:

What is gold jewellery?

Although the name can be misleading, gold jewellery actually contains more than just gold. In its purest form, gold is too weak to wear, so jewellers mix it with other metals (known as alloys) to make it strong enough to hold its shape. The ratio of gold to other alloys is measured in karats. If you want a refresher, check out All About Karats for the full rundown.

No matter how often you wear gold jewellery, it won’t tarnish or fade. Gold jewellery is durable enough to last forever (which is exactly what we’re going for). It can keep its shine for years to come but a good cleaning once a month will ensure it lasts a lifetime.

Plus, gold will never lose its value. So, even if you outgrow the design of the jewellery itself, you can always melt it down to make something new. Investing in gold jewellery not only saves you money in the long run, but it’s also far more sustainable than choosing cheaper options. 

What is gold-plated jewellery?

Gold-plated jewellery has all the aesthetic features of gold without the longevity. With a very small amount of the precious metal actually present in each piece, it’s more about the colour of the jewellery than the quality. Retailers will often use a cheaper metal like brass or copper and apply a light layer of gold to give it that glittery look. The problem with gold-plated jewellery is that the gold coating is quick to fade. What was once a shiny gold ring could soon look more like a rusty penny, leaving you with a greenish hue or even a rash where it once sat on your finger. 

A popularized type of plating is called gold vermeil (pronounced: vehr-may). A step up from standard gold plating, vermeil uses sterling silver as a base metal. The chances of an allergic reaction are much lower with this option but with a few scuffs and scratches, the silver interior will peek through, ruining the look of your gold jewellery.

What is gold-filled jewellery? 

Somewhere in the middle of these two categories is gold-filled jewellery. Similar to gold-plated jewellery, gold-filled pieces are a combination of metals. Instead of dipping a base metal in gold, the two layers are actually bonded to create a more durable gold outer layer. The gold coating is often thicker than it is in gold-plated jewellery but its lifespan is still much shorter than that of gold. 

Which one should you choose?

Oremme is everlasting; the types of treasures you never outgrow. That’s why we only use gold. Our earrings, bracelets, rings, and necklaces are crafted for everyday wear, both in their design and their construction. Our Birdie Hoops and Chubbie Hoops are hollowed out to minimize weight without compromising quality so you can go about your daily routine unhindered by heavy jewellery.

While gold-filled, gold-plated, and gold jewellery might look the same from afar, there’s no comparison in the way it wears. Anything that’s not gold needs to be taken off before showering, working out, and sometimes even washing your hands. You’ll end up spending more time caring for a lower quality piece of jewellery that’s destined to lose its lustre. If you want something you can pull out of your jewellery box day after day, year after year, gold is the way to go.