Gold, Filled and Plated - What's the Difference?

June 21, 2018

Gold, Filled and Plated - What's the Difference?

Since the beginning of recorded history, gold has been a valued and sought after metal that has been used for coins, jewelry and other artistic designs. It is a very soft metal, so to make it suitable for jewelry it is often mixed with silver, nickel, zinc and copper to make it harder. The mixture of the amount of gold in comparison to the other metals is what determines the karat designation.

Gold is also used in other ways to create jewelry. Some of the terminology to describe how the jewelry is constructed is gold filled, gold plated and vermeil.

Diamond wedding rings, 14kt two tone goldGold Filled or Rolled Gold Plate (older term) are very confusing terms. It's sounds like the item is filled with gold, but this is not the case. This process is easier to understand if you think of an Oreo cookie. The cookie part is a sheet of gold and the cream filling is a sheet of base metal. The piece of jewelry is made of this "cookie" of metal. The gold is touching your skin and is what is seen, but it has the added strength of the base metal.

In 1906, the metals act was passed in order to prevent many misleading markings. You can find items from the 1800's that are marked "solid gold" but are really gold filled. Pocket watches and wedding rings are common items from this time period that you may see this marking on.

Gold Plated sounds like it should be the process listed above, but it is not. Instead, the entire piece of jewelry is made with a base metal then a very thin coating of gold is electroplated on it.

Vermeil (pronounced Vair-May), is similar to Gold Plated. This is a very old process of coating sterling silver with gold. Gold items that are marked "925" or "sterling" are vermeil.

It is important to understand these difference when collecting beautiful items of gold.

We have a lovely selection of estate jewelry at Seaside Art Gallery. 





Also in Blog

What's the Difference Between an Original Print and a Reproduction?
What's the Difference Between an Original Print and a Reproduction?

January 03, 2019

Continue Reading

"After" - What Does This Art Term Mean?
"After" - What Does This Art Term Mean?

December 27, 2018

You may be visiting a museum, auction or gallery and see the term "after" behind the artist's name and wonder what that means.

Continue Reading

What Makes Gold 3 Different Colors?
What Makes Gold 3 Different Colors?

December 20, 2018

Yellow, white or rose are the three different colors for gold used when creating beautiful pieces of jewelry.  In its natural state, gold is soft and yellow, so how does it become white and rose?

Continue Reading