What Is Gold Plated Jewellery?

What Is Gold Plated Jewellery?

Find the answers to some commonly asked questions such as:

• Can gold plated jewellery get wet?
• How long does gold plated jewellery last?
• Does gold plated jewellery tarnish?
• Can gold plated jewellery be re-plated?
• Is designer gold plated jewellery better?

Let's get started!

What is gold plated jewellery?

It is a cost effective way of having the much aspired to look of gold, without the hefty price tag. How so? Gold plating is a very fine coating of real gold, over a base metal such as sterling silver or brass. 

How thick is gold plated jewellery?

Gold plating is measured in microns. This is a form of metric which measures super tiny increments. For example, some gold plating is 1000th of a millimeter thick. It may not sound very thick, but it's actually very effective.

Different types of gold plating

There are a few different types of plating. Listed here from the thinnest coating to the thickest -

Flash plating
Gold plating
Gold vermeil
Gold filled

So what's the difference?

See our handy chart below as a guide for thickness.


Flash Plating - 0.1-0.25 microns

This is an ultra fine coating of gold, it's what you'll find in fashion jewellery and low pricepoint stores such as Primark. The base metal is usually brass, copper or stainless steel. The plating wont usually last longer than a few weeks even with good care unless it has had a special treatment on top.

Gold Plating - 0.25-2.5 microns

The variation in thickness in standard gold plating varies hugely. It's always best to read the fine print and check how thick the plating is before you buy. Read up about who you're shopping with, read their back story and make sure that you trust the quality they are offering.
The base metal can be anything from brass to silver, so check you're not paying over the odds for cheap materials.

Gold Vermeil - 2.5 microns+

This is the thickest form of gold plating available. This is a regulated type of plating which must be at least 2.5 microns thick.  It also has to have a base metal of fine or sterling silver, and be made from a minimum of 10 carats of gold.

Gold Filled - 5% of the weight of the item

In this type of jewellery the gold is bonded to the metal differently, via heat bonding. It means the gold is unable to detach from the base metal, which is almost always brass. The gold content is usually high and long lasting but you'll usually find it in 9-14 carats, never usually 18 carats or higher. The thickness of the gold has to be at least 5% of the weight of the item.

That's a tough question! Anything above 1 micron of plating is considered a good quality, but ultimately, gold plated or gold vermeil items (much like white gold), will need to be re-plated at some stage.  

Frequently Asked Questions -

Can gold plated jewellery get wet?
The short answer is yes, but it will affect the longevity of the plating. Therefore it is recommended that you remove your jewellery when showering, sleeping, exercising (especially swimming), or when applying perfume or any other products.

Does gold plated jewellery tarnish?
Over time, it's normal for the plating to wear down on your jewellery. This is not considered a fault. This would begin expose the base metal (such as silver), which could then tarnish. Fortunately, tarnishing is usually a reversible process.

How long does gold plated jewellery last?
There's no finite answer to this as it can depend on the individual and their body oils. We are all made up slightly differently and some people's make up affects the wearing down of gold plating differently to others. 

It also heavily depends on how you treat your jewellery. If you wipe it down and place it safely back in it's box every night then it will last much much longer than if you sleep and shower in it.

A general rule-of-thumb would be -

Up to 1 micron, could last 1-2 years with good care

1 Micron+, could last up to 5 years or more with good care

Can gold plated jewellery be re-plated?
The good news is, your gold plated item can be re-plated back to it's original sparkliness. However, there are some factors to consider. 

Before re-plating, the jewellery must be thoroughly cleaned, ideally with use of an ultrasonic cleaner which your supplier or jeweller will likely own.

The jewellery may have an e-coat or other anti-tarnishing protective coating which needs to be removed. This is a special treatment which applies polymers to the jewellery to protect it from tarnishing (think of it like a hair product). The treatment would prevent the item from plating properly and would need removing by a professional using an acid bath. It would be best to enquire with the seller of your jewellery to check whether it is bare metal or has a treatment.

Is designer gold plated jewellery better?

As most of us already know, with designer brands more often than not you are buying the name and the design rather than quality.
It's very common for big names to sell extremely expensive thin gold plated jewellery. Always read the small print! Quite often, you can buy something similar or much better quality from a smaller business (and also feel great about supporting someone who smiles when your order comes through!).

At Lezzeri all of our plated items have a plating of between 1-2.5 microns. The majority of our jewellery has a thick Gold Vermeil plating to ensure that you are getting the best quality and life from your treasures and we always make this clear on the product descriptions! 

Browse our gold vermeil jewellery collection HERE

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