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10 useful tidbits of knowledge about gold plated jewellery

Silver jewellery in WW’s plentiful selection is in most cases also available as gold plated. But, say, what does “gold plated” mean? Is it a good choice?

Gold plated jewelry is a wallet friendly alternative for “members of the gold club”. The golden tone that warmer color shades demand next to them - check. Good price – check. Easily gold plated anew – check. Too good to be true?

Still, the situation truly is nearly ideal. So, if you don’t feel like reading any further, here’s the gist of it in a nutshell – looking at a piece of jewellery from afar, you cannot tell whether it’s a gold plated item or an adornment of pure gold, yet the price differs significantly. If you take good care of your jewellery, it will stay pretty for a long time. And if diligence is not your strongest suit, it is truly easy to apply a new layer of gold on your jewellery. Yes, WildWoman too can do it for you.

For those that yearn for knowledge, here’s the longer story.

Gold plating = a thin layer of gold on a piece of jewellery made from another metal

Gold plating, much like rhodium plating (we talked about that recently as well) is a common method in the world of jewellery. If you believe it’s a contemporary invention, think again - the very first thin layer of gold was applied on a silver plate by Italian chemist Luigi Brugnatelli as early as in 1805.

Many metals can be gold plated

A gold layer can be applied on many different metals such as nickel, chromium, stainless steel, copper, tungsten, titanium, and, naturally, silver. Copper and silver are the metals most often gold plated. Gold plating does not make silver stronger in any way. Gold plated silver jewellery is, however, stronger than 585 gold jewellery.

Wildwoman’s selection includes only gold plated silver, no other base metals are used.

Gold plating is an electrochemical process

There are quite a few stages to gold plating a single piece of jewellery. First, a thorough cleaning of all residues is carried out - it is especially important to get rid of dirt and grease residues. Wiping with a cloth is not enough; there are a variety of cleaning methods such as steam, ultrasound, or electric cleaning.

After cleaning, the jewellery is immersed in a gold solution and a layer of gold is attached to the item by way of a positive electric charge.

The layer of gold is real gold

Yes, gold plated jewellery really has a layer of genuine gold on it. However, because it is a thin layer, gold plated jewellery is not as expensive as items made entirely of gold; still, it is very difficult to tell which is which just by looking at the items.

The purity of the gold that is applied to jewellery varies just as the purity of the gold varies in jewellery made entirely from gold. The purest gold layer can be 24 carats, while a layer with the lowest purity can be 10 carats.

Wildwoman's jewellery is normally covered with 585 gold.

The layer of gold on the jewellery is 0.17 to 2.5 microns in thickness

A 0.17 micron layer "survives" only on jewellery that is put through the grinder somewhat less, such as pendants and earrings. A thin layer like this wears off of the jewellery quite quickly.

A gold layer of 0.5 to 1.0 microns is considered sufficiently thick. Sounds really thin? Yet, in fact, it is enough even for frequently worn rings. Why is the thickness of the gold layer important at all? Because the thicker the layer, the longer it lasts.

The gold layer of gold plated jewellery purchased from WildWoman is generally 1.75 microns. Nothing but perfection!

The price indicates whether a piece of jewellery is gold plated or made from gold

As it is difficult to determine just by looking at a piece of jewellery whether it is gold plated or made from gold, the easiest way is to check out the price. Jewellery made from gold is always more expensive.

You can also look for markings on the jewellery; however, you will normally not find them on jewellery made in the European Union (and therefore also items sold at WildWoman) where such markings are not mandatory. Instead, WildWoman's gold plated jewellery will exhibit silver markings as valuable silver continues to be the only metal in our selection, allowing for effortless gold plating.

Gold plated jewellery is not as expensive as gold

No matter how high in quality or thick/thin the gold layer is, it will not increase the value of the jewellery significantly. And this is where one of the advantages of gold-plated jewellery comes from - their price is much more affordable than that of jewellery made entire from gold.

The price of this gold plated pendant with the chain costs 69 €, if it would be made of pure gols, the price would be ca 500 €.

Those nice gold plated pearl earrings cost 95 €, similar gold earrings would cost around 1000 €. 

The durability of the gold layer depends on how you use the piece of jewellery

The gold layer may tarnish and wear off over time, and this is perfectly normal, no matter how high the quality of the specimen. This is affected by both the thickness and the quality of the gold layer and how much wear and tear the item has to endure (for example, whether you keep a gold plated ring on while washing dishes).

The base metal also plays a role, surfacing from underneath the gold layer molecule by molecule as time passes. Also, it is worth being careful with gold plated jewellery purchased from outside of the European Union as nickel, a known allergen, is often inserted under the gold layer to keep the surface looking pretty for longer. Within the European Union, nickel use is prohibited.

On the average, a gold plated piece of jewellery stays beautiful for a few years, even longer if you wear it not often and keep it with care.

Nice things to do for your jewellery include, for example:

  • Keep your jewellery away from household chemicals, perfumes, and makeup.
  • Always keep your hands clean.
  • Keep your jewellery away from chlorinated or salty water - swim without your jewellery.
  • Make sure your jewellery is thoroughly cleaned after being exposed to sweat or sebum.
  • Every now and then, clean your gold plated jewellery with mild soapy water or a special cleaning solution. Be sure to avoid brushing and rubbing.

It is easy to apply a new gold layer on gold plated jewellery

If it happens that your beautiful gold plated jewellery no longer shines as nicely and freshly as it did when you first brought it home, it is very easy to apply a new gold layer on it. For example, you may bring it to WildWoman and pick it up again in five working days, good as new. Gold plating a ring costs € 25, while gold plating a chain or earrings costs € 35.

By the way, if you have a simpler-in-shape piece of silver jewellery and you’d rather wear it as golden instead, you can also bring that item in for gold plating. Unfortunately, this is not possible for jewellery of more complex forms (e.g. jewellery with intricate patterns, filigree jewellery). Generally speaking, jewellery with stones can also be gold plated.

Just look at these pretty golden ones!

Which one should you take home?

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