When you buy gold jewelry, note that it is classified into two main types – gold-plated and gold-filled. They constitute two unique kinds of gold products. It is important to understand the difference between the two in order to make informed decisions when buying jewelry and other products.
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Gold plating is a method of covering one type of metal, usually a cheaper one, with a very thin layer of gold film through a process known as electroplating. You may hear jewelry sellers refer to their products as gold-overlay jewelry, but this is just another way of describing gold-plated jewelry.
Gold-plated jewelry is a fairly strong product. Gold itself is a soft metal that is highly susceptible to dents, bending, and nicks. Gold plating provides an attractive finish to a sturdy and durable metal. The downside of a gold-plated item is that the plating could wear away or chip over time, exposing the original metal. Gold-plated material, however, can be re-plated to restore its original luster.
Gold-filled jewelry is generally more valuable than gold-plated, largely because it contains a higher concentration of high-quality gold. Gold-filled items rank just below solid gold when it comes to value and quality. Solid gold, or pure gold, is not actually a good choice for jewelry because it is very soft. For this reason, gold alloys are used for producing gold jewelry.
Gold-filled items may be crafted from gold alloys that could be very strong, depending on the karat of the gold. The lower the karat, the stronger the product. Higher karat gold is more valuable, but it is also a lot softer.
If you are in doubt as to the kind of gold jewelry you are buying, you can request a professional test to determine whether a product is gold-plated or gold-filled.