The Difference Between Solid, Filled and Plated Gold Jewellery
Gold is a metal commonly used in making jewellery. People are often confused by the terms solid, filled and plated gold jewellery.
There are many different types of gold. This is because pure gold isn't strong enough on it's own, so we bond it with lesser metals to make it more durable. The metal can then be used for many different purposes. The ratio of the bonded metal to pure gold in the alloy determines it's strength and worth.
Take a look at our short guide to find out more about the different forms of gold.
Solid Gold Jewellery.
This is the gold we know labelled as 9 carat up to 24 carat. See our in depth guide on carats here. Solid gold is likely to last for a long time as it doesn't tarnish, which this is why it is so highly valued in jewellery. The big negative of 24ct gold is that it’s an extremely soft metal, making it quite fragile. This is why it is mixed with other materials to make a stronger alloy to be used in jewellery.
Gold Filled Jewellery.
Based on quality and value, gold filled jewellery is just a step down from solid gold.
To make it, a solid layer of pure gold is bonded to sterling silver or another base metal. This is different to gold plating. It has a higher gold content and the layer of gold is 5 - 10 times thicker than gold plating. This means that the gold will not chip or rub off, which makes it similar to solid gold as it too will not tarnish. Also, if you have a metal allergy, this is the gold for you. The layer of gold means that this type of jewellery won't react with the skin.
Gold Plated Jewellery.
The lowest quality of gold jewellery is gold plated. The process includes a thin layer of gold being placed onto the surface of another base metal. This is typically either copper or silver, meaning that the majority of the item is not gold. It can take many years but due to the thin coating of gold, the colour will eventually fade.
See the diagram below for a clearer insight on the gold content of these 3 types of gold.