Have you ever seen a lovely piece of jewelry labeled “gold-filled” or “gold-plate” and not known what those terms mean? Perhaps the piece is marked “1/20th 14Kt GF” and you had absolutely no idea what those markings meant.
Gold filled items have a thicker layer of gold adhered to a base metal core. GF (gold filled) can be about 100 times thicker than most available gold plate making it a more durable and longer lasting finish. Typically a sheet of gold is adhered to a base metal core — often brass. The gold is wrapped onto the core metal and rapidly heated to 900′ F and then placed in a special press to seal the metals.
Similar to gold fill, gold plate is a sheet or layer of gold adhered to a base metal. The main difference between the gold plate and gold fill is the thickness of the gold layer. Gold plate is a much thinner layer of gold making the piece less durable and a shorter lifespan.
Gold plate is a good option for affordable pieces that are not intended for constant wear or longevity.
Gold pieces are often stamped to identify the thickness, type of gold, and finish. For example, 1/20th means the gold equals at least 1/20th the weight of the total piece. If a piece is marked “1/20th 12kt GF” it means the gold is at least 1/20th the weight of the piece, is 12kt gold, and gold filled.
When selecting pieces I try to decide how often I will wear the piece and for what occasions. If it is an item that I am purchasing for fun and not really investment then it can be a less expensive gold plate. On the other hand, if I want to wear the piece often and am willing to invest a bit more into the purchase I will opt for gold fill.
Caring for the gold requires a light hand as any scratches or nicks can damage the gold plate / fill and speed up any deterioration.
Examples of Gold Fill and Gold Plate Jewelry
Whatever the choice, gold is a stunning metal to blend into your jewelry wardrobe. Care for your pieces well and they will last for a long time.