What Is Gold Plated Jewellery?

by Begüm Tiryaki Uyulur

It can often be confusing to understand the material or quality of jewellery when shopping, especially when browsing online. We've all heard about gold-plated jewellery, but what does it really mean? Before we dive into details and useful tips to remember when jewellery shopping, let's breakdown the different types of plated jewellery. 

So, why do jewellers use gold plating in the first place?

Gold plating allows jewellery to have the appearance of solid gold, at a more affordable price tag. There are a few methods used to achieve gold plating, with the most common being electroplating. Electroplating dates back to the 1800s and uses an electrical current to apply a desired metal (often gold) onto the surface of another metal. Many metals can be used as the base for gold plating including brass, copper, stainless steel and silver. 

How can we determine the quality of gold plated jewellery?

When shopping for gold plated jewellery, the thickness of the gold and quality of materials are two main factors to take into consideration. 

First, we need to determine what material is being gold plated as the base of the jewellery. The most commonly used materials are are brass and silver. It's important to note that silver is considered a precious metal, whereas brass is not. When a non-precious metal (base metal) is used for jewellery, it is commonly referred as fashion or costume jewellery. However, when silver is gold plated it is often referred to as demi-fine jewellery (of course, dependent on the stones and the thickness of the plating as well).

When it comes to the thickness of your gold plated jewellery, as you can imagine, the thicker the plating, the pricier the jewellery is. The unit used to measure the plating thickness is a micron. To give you some perspective, a micron is 0.001 of a millimetre. 

What is the difference between flash plating, micron plating & vermeil?

Flash gold plating is commonly lower than 0.25 microns. This is a very thin layer of plating often used to give the item a gold colour and finish. Flash gold plated items may also be referred to as costume jewellery as well. Micron plating, which is at least 0.5 microns, of course holds a thicker layer of gold. A micron thickness of 1 is often considered good quality.

Vermeil refers to silver jewellery that is plated with thick, high quality gold. While in Canada, the plating requirement for vermeil is 1 micron, on average vermeil jewellery has around 2.5 microns of plating. Micron gold plating and flash gold plating do not have any requirements for plating thickness. 

I always recommend contacting the designer or seller when shopping for jewellery if you have any questions about the materials used. It is normal to see higher prices for vermeil, in comparison to other gold plated jewellery since the base material (silver) is precious and the thickness of the gold plating is at least 2.5 microns. Do keep in mind that 1 micron of gold-plating is also considered as a good quality thickness, especially for earrings.

Rings are, of course in contact more often with skin and chemicals like soap and antibacterial sprays. The greater the thickness of the gold plating, the greater the durability of your jewellery. However, durability all comes down to how you take care of your jewellery. It is recommended that you should take off your jewellery when going into pool or sea and always put on your perfume or lotions before you put on your jewellery. At BOULO, we always recommend that jewellery should be the last thing you put on and the first thing you take off. All of our products are micron gold plated on sterling silver - our earrings are at least 1 micron and rings are at least 3 microns gold plated. 


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