Gold filled VS gold plated

1. What is the difference between gold filled jewelry and gold plated jewelry?
The most important difference is gold layer thickness. Items designated as “gold filled” can be up to 100 times thicker than the heaviest gold plating available today! Gold filled items are created by using heat and pressure to permanently fuse a layer of karat gold over a less costly base metal (such brass) design. By the Federal Trade Commission, the layer of gold should equal 1/20th of the total weight of the finished item. The surface layer of karat gold is usually 10kt, 12kt, or 14kt. In China, gold filled jewelry has not strict percentage weight of the total item, its gold layer thickness from 5 – 10 microns. One disadvantage for gold filled items (i.e. watches) is that once the layer of gold wears through to the base metal, it will need to be resurfaced and replated to prevent discoloration. Gold filled processes are still being utilized to produce fine watches, writing instruments, and assorted jewelry items. Gold plating, especially with advent of super hard plating materials, are widely used on designs which have intricate or complex shapes.

2. What’s thickness comparison of gold filled and gold plated jewelry?
Gold filled jewelry (chart a) substrates are commonly used for metal designs that have simple shapes and planar surface contours. Gold filled designs have the advantage of providing excellent long term wear durability of solid alloy gold products without the weight and higher costs. In most cases, a gold filled item can be repaired if damaged or badly scratched. Unlike gold plated products, the thicker cladding used on gold filled items can also be carefully repolished several times without the exposing the underlying base metal.

chart a

Gold Filled Jewelry

Item

category

Layer thickness

Estimated

durability

in years *

microns

microinches

bracelets

20 – 50

787 – 1969

3 – 8

chains

5 – 10

197 – 394

2 – 5

Rings

20 – 40

787 – 1574

3 – 6

* durability estimates provided by the Federal Trade Commission, based on normal and reasonable wear parameters

Gold plated jewelry (chart b) are used when designs are complex in shape, intricate, or very large in size. Gold plating has the advantage of providing good wear durability and is far less expensive than gold filled products. Newer and harder gold plating formulas being pioneered by the electronics industry will soon match gold filled products for durability.

chart b

Gold Plated Jewelry

Item

category

Layer thickness

Estimated

durability

in years *

microns

microinches

bracelets

0.3 – 0.5

12 – 20

1 – 1.5

chains

0.05 – 0.25

2 – 10

0.5 – 1

Rings

0.1 – 0.3

4 – 12

0.5 – 1

* durability estimates provided by the Federal Trade Commission, based on normal and reasonable wear parameters

Gold plated items are not easily repaired or repolished. Often replating will need to be done if the repaired item has to be welded or soldered. However, gold plating can be used over gold filled items to conceal repairs or to impart a uniformity to a surface or texture.

Comparison Reference for Microns

1000 microns = 1 millimeter, 1 micron = 39.37 microinches,

125 microns or .125 millimeters = thickness of 1 human hair follicle

Comparison Reference for Microinches

1 microinch = 1 one millionth of an inch, 39.37 microinches = 1 micron,

4921 microinches or 4.92 mils = thickness of 1 human hair follicleGo here to learn about

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