What is Gold Plated Jewelry and is it "Disposable Jewelry?"
Is Plated Jewelry "Disposable Jewelry?"
You see a beautiful jewelry design set with precious-looking metal sparkling and winking at you on the department store shelf. The price tells you that the gemstones aren't likely real, but you don't expect them to be at this price. And you don't mind. It fits your style and your budget. It even has "14K gold" on the display card.
The salesperson confirms that it’s 14K gold plated. You know how much gold is worth these days, so this piece must be more valuable than, say, copper or brass, right? You bring your treasure to the cash register thinking you're about to have a semi-long and beautiful relationship together.
But very soon, reality sets in. You wear it for less than a week and your finger turns green (this isn't always a bad thing which I'll explain in another post), and the beautiful precious-metal shine turns dull. Worse, a pinkish-brown color is gradually taking over the entire piece the longer you wear it!
Now, if you expected this to happen because you paid a lower price, and you knew it would be disposable jewelry after wearing it a couple times, that's one thing. But if you paid a price for something you thought would last longer than a few weeks, you suddenly feel betrayed. You never would have purchased the piece looking the way it does now.
But you’re confused. You know gold doesn’t tarnish or turn your finger green. So did somebody misrepresent it?
You continue searching for a solution. Surely you can polish this beautiful design and restore it to its original luster, right? Unfortunately, not if it’s gold plated. Polishing will only rub off the rest of the precious metal that was thinly hiding the base metal underneath.
But you're not ready to give up on this beauty quite yet. Now that you know gold plating is just one micro-thin layer of precious metal barely covering a lower quality copper-based metal (hence the green finger), perhaps you can pay someone to electroplate another layer of precious metal back onto it, restoring it to its original glory.
Perhaps. But will it be worth the hassle and cost when you know it's only going to last another week or two?
You finally resign to the fact that this short love affair is now doomed to join your growing junk jewelry pile. You don't have the heart to throw it away, but you know you'll never wear it again looking like that.
Next time, you’ll be more careful when purchasing a piece of jewelry.
THE OTHER EXTREME
But what if you're not among the small percentage of people who can afford to buy real gold at over $1,400 an ounce (at the time I'm writing this)? Whether it’s 10K, 14K, 18K, or 24K jewelry, it’s a huge investment running in the 100’s of dollars for the tiniest piece. It will be so expensive that you'll rarely wear it. You’ll have to get it insured and keep it locked up in a safe.
In the meantime, what will you wear for everyday?
THE HAPPY MEDIUM
Gold Filled. Until I started making jewelry, I had never heard of gold-filled. But now that I know I can get a long-lasting gold option without paying the solid gold price or having it rub off, I'll never buy another gold plated piece again. (If it were up to me, plated jewelry would disappear off the planet.)
In my opinion, and that of many jewelry lovers I know, gold filled is the perfect marriage of long lasting gold beauty at an affordable price. For just slightly more than sterling silver, I can now buy (and make) a variety of pieces for the price of one solid gold piece, and I can wear them every day with confidence.
SO WHAT IS GOLD FILLED?
Gold filled starts out similar to gold plated with a base metal design coated with 14K gold. But instead of receiving just one thin layer of the precious metal like gold plated does, gold filled receives 100 layers of the precious metal. It’s now durable enough for me to solder, shape, and sand without losing its beautiful gold quality.
And after you purchase your piece of gold filled jewelry, it won’t tarnish over time the way silver does. If it happens to become dirty from everyday wear, you can easily polish it to restore its beautiful golden luster, the way it looked the day you bought it.
This piece of gold jewelry will stay beautiful for many years to come at a price you can afford today.
At the time of writing this post, the only metals Sayari Designs offers are 14K gold filled, sterling silver, fine silver, copper, and brass. But we will never offer silver or gold plated. We fully disclose which metal is being used on each design so you can buy with confidence.
I will post more about copper and brass later and why I prefer both of them over plated.