I get this question all the time! I want you to know the difference so you know what to expect in your jewelry, how long it will last, and help you purchase your jewelry with confidence.
Gold Filled Jewelry
Gold Filled jewelry is not really "filled" but layered with 12 or 14 karat gold over a brass core sometimes referred to as "Jewelers Brass". The gold layer is pressure bonded on to a high quality jewelers brass core, making it permanent. This material is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission and the gold layer must be 1/20 or 5% of the item’s total weight.
Unlike gold plated jewelry, the gold layer in gold-filled materials won’t flake off, chip, or turn your skin green. The thick layer of gold also means that gold-filled is generally suitable for those with sensitive skin. Gold-filled jewelry is a great alternative to solid gold making it much more affordable.
Care of Gold Filled
With usual wear, gold-filled jewelry doesn’t tarnish or need any extra care. If it needs cleaning, polishing with a soft cloth like a Hagerty Polishing Cloth, or a soft cotton cloth. Every so often, it helps to clean your jewelry in warm water with a drop of mild dish soap. Let it dry completely before putting it away.
As long as the piece is well cared for, gold-filled jewelry can last a lifetime.
Gold Plated Jewelry
Gold Plated Jewelry is made from a single layer plating of gold over a base (generally jewelers brass). The thickness of gold plating can vary, and there is no set standard for how much gold is required in the plating process. Typically it is .05%. (Gold filled has 100% more gold @ 5%).
To make gold-plated pieces, an electric current is used to negatively charge the base metal and positively charge a solution containing gold ions. The positive gold ions are attracted to the negative charge of the core metal, slowly forming a layer of gold on top of the core.
Gold-plated jewelry is the most economical choice, and with a little care, can last a long time. Gold plated jewelry can tarnish if it comes in contact with harsh chemicals, perfumes and cosmetics or if the surface is scratched exposing the brass beneath. It is recommended to clean less often and store in a soft pouch away from other jewelry that can scratch it.