There is nothing like the allure of gold that made man fall in love with it throughout the centuries. Egyptians viewed it a status symbol as it was exclusive to royalty and powerful nobility. They were highly captivated by it that their temples, tombs and even capstones of Great Pyramid of Giza were told to be made of gold. Greeks associated it with immoral gods and demigods. They saw of afterlife as a paradise found in the Underworld that they bury the dead with gold tablets engraved in texts that allow them to easily enter the divine realms. Americans gained its status as the global superpower it is today with the help of the Bretton Woods Agreement in the 1940’s which created a gold exchange standard where the price of gold was fixed to the US dollar. The agreement ended in the 1970’s but gold, although not a currency, is still an asset that provides significant value over time.
Gold, coined from the Old English “geolo” which means yellow, had played an influential role in the history of man. Up to this day, the centuries-old ritual of gold adornment is not only enjoyed by those with wealth and status, but by everyone. A plethora of options available in the market — such as necklaces, rings, earrings and bracelets in all shapes and sizes — has made it convenient for each one to own gold. But there is a confusion on the materials used to create these pieces that still continues to linger. Thus, allow me to shed light on this topic as I explain the differences between gold plated, gold filled and solid gold.
Gold Plated or Vermeil. Since it only contains at least 1% of gold, it is deemed to be the most affordable jewelry. Gold plated jewelry uses brass, copper or nickel as its base metal, while gold vermeil is sterling silver that has been gold-plated. The process of gold plating involves a base metal, usually silver, copper or brass, which has a layer as thin as 1/1000 to 3/1000 of an inch of gold electrically charged into it. The electric current is used to negatively charge the base metal and positively charge a solution that contains gold ions. The positive gold ions are attracted to the negative charge of the base metal then creating a gold layer on top of the core. Because it only has a fraction of a gold, any friction applied to it can cause the plating to rub off quickly. Also, most base metals used in plating can cause allergic reactions or tend to turn skin green. The reason is that the molecules of the metals slowly transfer into the thin layer of gold causing it to disintegrate.
Gold Filled. Its main difference with gold plated is it contains a thicker amount of gold. The process involves a base — metal being sandwiched between two layers of gold alloy — which is heated and pressurized that bonds the metals together. By law, gold filled jewelry must contain 5% or 1/20 of gold by weight to be classified as such. The 5% will then be stamped with a karat number according to its filled coating. It can be seemingly indistinguishable to solid gold because it possesses the same desirable look and properties. It is durable and valuable, but depending on the thickness of the layer, karat and usability, it could last for as long as 5 years or even more.
Solid Gold. It is one of the most valuable form of jewelry you can own next to Platinum. Pure gold is very yellow in color, soft in texture and expressed as 24k or karats. Due to its malleability, gold is often mixed with alloy to make it more durable for creating jewelry. Alloy mixture is usually composed of copper, manganese, nickel, palladium or silver depending on the need, i.e., if it’s yellow gold, white gold or rose gold. These alloy preserve gold’s desirable properties — its radiant color, shine and inability to corrode. For a piece to be considered as high value fine jewelry, it has to be made out of 14k solid gold (14 parts pure gold and 10 parts alloy) or 18k solid gold (18 parts gold and 6 parts alloy). Not only is it the form of jewelry with the highest quality, but more importantly, it does not lose its value as the price of gold increases over time.
Jewelry is precious, an investment and a part of you. Therefore, it is ideal to opt for solid gold jewelry that will stand the test of time.