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Gold-Plated vs Gold-Filled, Hollow vs Solid Gold Difference

It is so confusing when people say “gold jewelry”. It can be solid gold jewelry, hollow gold jewelry, gold filled or gold plated jewelry - and difference in value can be staggering.

The confusion arises because the word “gold” can be used to describe the color of jewelry as well as the material of the piece. It should always be disclosed what you are buying! If you find it hard to find out whether you are paying for gold color or gold material - it’s simply not fair - because there is big difference in cost.

Gold colored jewelry is usually brass or silver which is plated with gold color over it. They are on more affordable side. The jewelry made of gold (hollow or solid) are more expensive and the more gold is used the more expensive piece will be.

There are 5 materials that are typically referred to as gold: Gold plating, Gold plating over sterling silver, gold filled, solid gold, hollow gold.

Gold plated

Typically yellow gold is plated on top of non-fine material such as brass or copper. Cheaper jewelry will have very thin plating which will wear off fast. Some better brands jewelry will have a stronger plating, and will serve you longer. But once plating wears off, you will start seeing metal of another color underneath - that same brass or copper - which may also leave a color on your skin, and even sometimes give a more severe reaction. Gold plating does contain a little gold in it, but very very little. A whole pint of plating solution - which is what is used to make plating - will contain approx 1g of gold. Keep in mind that this amount can be used for plating thousands of pieces! This type of jewelry will not have a quality mark (which is not to be confused with stamp of the brand)

Gold Plated Sterling Silver

Sterling silver is a precious metal, which costs about $20 per oz (compared to $1300 per ounce for gold). That kind of jewelry will be made of sterling silver and then plated with gold on top. Gold plating will also wear off with time, but silver jewelry will still keep good value because it is a precious metal. Plus, for most people silver will not cause a skin reaction. This type of jewelry will have silver stamp (925 or ‘sterling silver’)

Gold Filled Jewelry

That kind of jewelry is again brass or other non-precious metal plated with gold on top. The difference from gold plated jewelry is that in this case gold layer is pretty thick! Usually this type of jewelry will serve you a long time. It even can be passed down with generations. It will have quality mark which will show how much real gold is in the piece. For example the most popular one is “1/20 14k”, which means that one twentieth of jewelry total weight is 14k gold. Gold filled jewelry is great if you want gold jewelry quality, but don’t want to pay as much as for solid gold jewelry. The reason why you may not want gold filled jewelry is because it’s not such a good investment. Gold is very expensive, and the more gold is used to plate the piece the more expensive jewelry piece will be. But you want to resale or scrap gold filled jewelry - the value that you are going to get back will be small - because even though it contains gold, that gold is difficult to separate from base metal. Essentially, it is as if you are selling selling just regular jewelry, not gold jewelry.

Solid Gold Jewelry

As the name says, solid gold jewelry is made of just that, solid gold. Without exaggeration, It is the best kind of jewelry. Not only it is hypoallergenic for most people, but value of gold is only getting higher and higher, which means it is a great investment and you can always resell it. Even when damaged or old, you can get money back for just the value of gold itself. Besides that you are not only treating yourself, but also treating the environment. Non-precious metal jewelry will not serve you as long, so you will have to buy it again and again. Production will harm the environment and when you finally throw it out, it will just fill landfills and be a choking hazard for animals. If on the other hand you buy gold jewelry it will serve you very long time. We still have Cleopatra-era jewelry pieces getting dug out of the ground like nothing happened to them! And since it is fairly expensive you will not throw them away, you will re-sell or scrap them. Scrapped jewelry will be recycled and new jewelry will be made out of this gold. This is already commonplace - therefore there’s not as much need to mine new gold and hurt the environment even more. Most gold currently used is already recycled, re-melted into shape of gold bars, wires or sheets - and reused again. Solid gold jewelry will be stamped 10k or 417, 14k or 585, 18k or 750, 24k or 999. If the piece is stamped “18k 925” it means it is made of both 18k solid gold and silver.

Hollow Gold Jewelry

Hollow simply means there is an empty space inside. Jewelry of any material can be made hollow - for various reasons - but in most cases it is done to reduce amount of gold required. The less gold is used - the cheaper final price will be. Hollow gold jewelry is stamped in the same way as solid gold jewelry is (10k, 14k, 18k, 24k) because it is made of gold only. Usually bangles are hollow - it works great for the design because it is not so heavy for your hand to wear, and it saves a lot on cost. You can spot hollow gold jewelry by it’s weight. If it weighs less than it looks like - it’s probably hollow. Of course solid gold jewelry is always the best deal - it’s timeless and its valuable. But if you are on a tight budget and are choosing between hollow gold jewelry or gold filled jewelry? I would recommend to buy solid gold jewelry, but maybe a more delicate piece :). While at the end of the day hollow jewelry will still have resale value, and that resale value is based on the value of gold, it’s sometimes easily bent, especially if you're wearing it everyday.

At Automic Gold, we design with solid 14 karat gold only because it’s what delivers the best value. 

I hope that I helped you to understand the difference. Here you can find our complete collection of 14k solid gold jewelry (that does not break the bank). ❤️


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