Gold Filled vs. Gold Plated: Which is Better?

Gold Filled vs. Gold Plated: Which is Better?

Are you seeking a thorough analysis of the differences between gold filled and gold plated jewelry?

Look no further! This guide provides the following information:

  • Do gold filled and gold plated jewelry contain genuine gold?
  • Is gold filled synonymous with solid gold?
  • How can one distinguish between gold plated and gold filled fine jewelry?
  • And a wealth of other valuable insights!

Origin – Gold Plated vs. Gold Filled Jewelry

Gold plating and gold filled jewelry are distinct types of gold jewelry that require different methods to attain their quality.

Gold Plating

Gold plating is a widely used method in the jewelry industry to create affordable jewelry pieces that mimic the look of solid gold. These pieces can be found in department stores such as Walmart and Kohl’s, as well as in renowned jewelry retailers like Kay and Zales.

To make gold plated jewelry, jewelers typically use a base metal that is durable and can hold up well over time. This base metal is then coated with a thin layer of real gold alloy, which is bonded to the base metal through a process called electroplating. The gold plating is usually 10, 14, or 18 karat in quality, and can give the piece the appearance of solid gold.

Gold plating can be done over a variety of base metals, but it is most commonly used on sterling silver. In costume jewelry, the base metal is often a resin or jeweler’s brass. When gold is plated over sterling silver, the resulting piece is known as gold vermeil jewelry. To be considered vermeil, the gold content must be at least 10 karat and the plating must be at least two microns thick.


While all gold plated jewelry should be made with real gold, it is rare to find white gold plated jewelry. Most gold plated jewelry is yellow gold in color, or comes in sterling silver instead. If a piece of jewelry is white gold in color, it is likely made with rhodium, which is a metal that gives white gold its silvery color.

Gold plated jewelry is not always stamped, but if it is, it should be stamped with the karat gold followed by “GP” on the piece. For example, a piece of jewelry that is 14 karat gold plated should be stamped as “14KGP.” However, it is safe to assume that unmarked gold-looking jewelry is either gold plated or simply gold-colored.

Gold plating is a popular alternative to solid gold in the jewelry industry due to its affordability and ability to mimic the look of solid gold. Whether you are looking for a simple gold plated necklace or a statement pair of gold plated earrings, there are many options available to suit your style and budget.

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Gold Filled

Gold filled jewelry is a type of jewelry that is plated with real gold, but with a thicker layer of gold than gold plated jewelry. While gold plated jewelry is more commonly found in department stores, gold filled jewelry is often found online.

The process of making gold filled jewelry is similar to that of gold plated jewelry. However, instead of a thin layer of gold, a thicker layer is created by wrapping many thin sheets of gold around the base metal of the jewelry. The gold is then bonded to the base metal through the application of heat. Gold filled jewelry can also be referred to as rolled gold or gold overlay.

The base metal used in gold filled jewelry is usually brass or nickel. To legally be sold as gold filled, the total weight of the gold used in the piece must be 1/20th or 5% of the total weight of the jewelry. Gold filled jewelry is typically available in 10, 14, or 18 karat gold amounts.

To identify a piece of gold filled jewelry, look for markings on the piece. A gold filled piece of jewelry made with sheets of 14 karat gold should be stamped as 14KGF or 14GF. The piece may also be marked as 1/20 14K GF, indicating that it is made of 1/20th real 14 karat gold.

Gold filled jewelry is a good option for those who want the look of solid gold jewelry without the high cost. While it is not as durable as solid gold, it is more durable than gold plated jewelry due to the thicker layer of gold. If properly cared for, gold filled jewelry can last for many years and is a great addition to any jewelry collection.

Appearance – Gold Plated vs. Gold Filled

Gold filled and gold plated jewelry resemble pure gold pieces due to their use of high-quality gold in varying plating thicknesses. However, their resemblance to pure gold is not permanent and will fade over time.

In contrast, pure yellow gold jewelry requires minimal maintenance for everyday wear, with occasional polishing or steam-cleaning by a jeweler being sufficient.

White gold jewelry is actually plated with a blend of white metals, and rhodium plating is necessary to maintain its silver appearance. Nevertheless, the natural yellow hue of gold will eventually fade, resulting in a slightly yellowed color on the bottom of the ring shank.

White gold jewelry can undergo a color change within months of purchase, with the natural yellow hue of gold eventually showing through the plating. While the timing of this effect may vary, it is an inevitable consequence of modifying gold’s natural color.

To maintain the appearance of white gold jewelry, most people need to have their engagement ring redipped once a year. Similarly, gold filled and gold plated jewelry can lose their luster over time due to the base metal underneath. Sterling silver is particularly vulnerable to tarnishing, which can affect the appearance of plated jewelry. Copper or other metal alloys can also cause gold plated jewelry to appear rusty and unappealing.

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While some jewelers may offer to replate gold filled or gold plated jewelry, it is generally recommended to limit daily wear and store the jewelry in a jewelry box to maintain its appearance. The natural oils in skin, dirt, and exposure to various soaps and chemicals can all contribute to the fading of gold plating.

Gold filled jewelry, with its multiple layers, tends to last longer than gold plating and requires regular maintenance. For those seeking a cheaper alternative to pure gold, gold filled jewelry may offer better longevity than gold plated options.

The modification of gold’s natural color in white gold, gold filled, and gold plated jewelry can result in changes in appearance over time. Regular maintenance, limited daily wear, and proper storage can all help to maintain the jewelry’s appearance and prolong its lifespan.

Price – Gold Filled vs. Gold Plated

The price of a gold plated or gold filled piece of jewelry is determined by various factors, with the base metal being the most significant one. Vermeil jewelry is typically more costly than regular plated jewelry because it is made of sterling silver, a precious metal.

Gold plated rings are commonly priced at less than $100, with some even costing less than $50 or as little as $10 for a trendy fashion ring. Gold filled jewelry is similarly priced, with lower-end pieces costing less than $50 and some priced over $100. However, there are a range of affordable options available for both types of jewelry.

Gold filled jewelry may be more expensive because of the thicker layer of gold used. However, it’s difficult to generalize the pricing for these pieces. The cost of gold jewelry, in general, is influenced by several factors such as the gold karat, the size of the piece, the presence of gemstones or diamonds, and the brand, such as Pandora.


Value – Gold Filled vs. Gold Plated

Considering the abundance of “We buy gold jewelry” stores, it’s easy to assume that gold is highly valuable, and indeed it is to a certain extent. The value of gold is determined by its weight using jewelry scales and its current market value, which fluctuates similarly to the exchange rate of the Japanese yen to the US dollar.

However, if you intend to sell gold filled or gold plated jewelry, you may be out of luck. These types of jewelry contain only a few microns of actual gold at most, making them less valuable and less expensive than other types of jewelry.

Even if you possess family heirlooms or plated jewelry that have been around for decades, their value will most likely be based on historical or collector’s value rather than their gold content.

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Other Factors – Gold Filled vs. Gold Plated

There are a few less obvious factors that may influence someone’s decision to choose one type of gold jewelry over another. Let’s explore some of these considerations that may not have initially come to mind.


Although it may be challenging to find either type of gold jewelry at fine jewelry stores, they are widely available online. While there may be more gold plated pieces than gold filled ones, both can be easily found.

However, there is a drawback to their affordability. These types of jewelry can be mass-produced in various designs. This means that if you find a particular design you love, it may not be available in the future, especially if it’s not a top seller. Gold plated designs frequently change.

This is why we do not recommend purchasing gold plated or gold filled rings as engagement or wedding bands. Most people attach sentimental value to their engagement rings and do not want to replace them anytime soon.


Repairing gold plated or gold filled jewelry can be a challenge as most fine jewelry retailers do not offer repair services for these types of jewelry. Thus, you may have to seek out a local bench jeweler to fix it.

However, this may not be the most cost-effective solution as the labor costs for repairing these types of jewelry can sometimes exceed the purchase price. For instance, gold plating small rings typically costs an average of $50-$110.

Allergic Reactions

Choosing gold filled or gold plated jewelry can be a downside for many due to the fact that these pieces are not made of solid gold. Often, wearers can experience allergic reactions to jewelry, with nickel content being the primary culprit. Nickel allergies are the most common type of jewelry allergy.

Since both gold filled and gold plated pieces are essentially plated, allergic reactions can arise from the base metal. When the base metal of a gold plated piece is simply listed as “metal alloy,” it is more likely to cause an allergic reaction.

Inexpensive fashion jewelry is also often made with unspecified base metals, with more focus placed on the plating than the quality of the underlying metal. The reason why some jewelry turns green on the skin is due to an allergic reaction, though the symptoms can vary from person to person. Some may experience rashes, while others may notice color irregularities.

If you have sensitive skin and don’t want to purchase solid gold, vermeil is a good alternative. Sterling silver is also considered hypoallergenic and does not typically cause allergic reactions.

To avoid allergic reactions, it is important to know your allergy and the base metal of the jewelry. Look for pieces that are labeled as “hypoallergenic,” and keep in mind that items labeled “nickel-free” may not be hypoallergenic for everyone. Hypoallergenic jewelry is designed to minimize the risk of allergic reactions, and surgical stainless steel is a cheap and commonly used hypoallergenic metal in body jewelry.


Gold jewelry is more complex than it may appear, whether it’s solid, gold plated, or gold filled. In the debate between gold filled vs. gold plated, my suggestion is to opt for gold plated jewelry.

This is primarily because you’ll have a broader range of choices and more specific design options. Additionally, it may be easier to find a jeweler who can replate a thin layer, rather than having to replate in multiple layers, which can be more labor-intensive and costly.

While gold plated jewelry is more recognizable, it’s worth noting that solid gold is the best option overall. While it may be pricier than plated or filled, it will last much longer in various conditions. For those looking for high-quality gold jewelry, offers a lifetime warranty and is a good choice.

For those seeking to save money when shopping for the best gold jewelry online, consider purchasing 10K gold engagement or wedding rings. 10K gold has less gold content, making it more durable and less expensive. However, yellow gold in 10K may not be as vibrant as 14K because it contains less yellow gold content.

If you’re looking for fashion jewelry to match current trends, gold filled or gold plated jewelry is a cost-effective alternative to solid gold. is our recommended place to purchase both gold plated and gold filled jewelry, as it has a vast selection to suit any style and need. Regardless of what you’re looking for, Amazon is sure to have it!

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