We all know what is gold jewellery, but what does gold plated jewellery mean? Is there any big difference in price and should you buy it in general?
What is Plated Jewellery?
In general, plating is the process of covering a piece of jewellery made from a certain metal or alloy with a layer of another metal. For example, if a silver ring is covered with a layer of gold on top, it would be marketed as a gold plated ring.
You may be surprised to learn that white gold pieces are also plated in some way. White gold doesn’t exist naturally. It is an alloy of yellow gold and white metals, usually palladium. And the pieces made of white gold are often plated with rhodium to make them look whiter.
You should be aware that after some use, any plating including rhodium will wear away exposing the metal underneath.
The thickness of the gold layer on top of gold plated jewellery can vary. The Federal Trade commission labels items as “gold plated” at 0.5 microns (0.0005 millimetres) and “heavily gold plated” at 2.5 microns (0.0025 millimetres).
What is Vermeil?
Vermeil is a specific kind of gold plating when the item base is made of sterling silver and it’s covered with 2.5-micron gold plating that is at least 10 karats.
Not any gold plated jewellery piece with a sterling silver base can be called “vermeil”. To be legally called vermeil, the piece should have the above-mentioned characteristics.
If you want a quick way to identify whether your jewellery is vermeil or not, look for a “925” stamp on your piece. This marking means that the base metal is 92.5% silver (sterling silver).
Things to Consider Before Buying Plated Jewellery
Plated jewellery pieces are usually cheaper than the ones that are entirely made of the same metal. For example, gold plated earrings will cost much less than the same earrings made of 14K or 18K gold.
There is no surprise, choosing the cheaper option has its pitfalls.
As mentioned above, any plating that covers your jewellery will wear away with time. It’s really hard to predict how long the plating will stay intact. It all depends on the thickness of the plating and the frequency you wear the piece, but this will happen anyway. And in such a case, you can take your piece to the jeweller to get it replated or just buy a new one.
It is worth mentioning that the more moving parts your jewellery piece has, the harder and more expensive it is to replate.
Gold Plated Jewellery Clean and Care
The tips below will help you to keep your gold plated jewellery piece clean and make it last longer.
To clean your piece, mix a few drops of dishwashing liquid with some warm water. Soak the piece for a couple of minutes in the soapy solution and gently wash it with your fingers. Carefully buff the item with a dry microfibre cloth and let it dry off. After cleaning, store the plated piece separately to keep it from scratching against other types of jewellery you have.
Do not store gold plated jewellery in your bathroom or other humid places. You should keep your items as dry as possible. Not to mention, never wear your items when you go swimming or shower.
Always remove your plated jewellery when you come into contact with something hard. This will help you avoid scratching and damaging it.
Cover image credit: P D PAOLA