Everything You Need to Know About Gold Plating

Brass based and silver based gold plated jewelry makes up the largest portion of what we carry here at Local Eclectic, and we love gold plating for its accessibility because we believe that everyone should be able to rock gold jewelry, even if you can’t afford solid gold.  But what is gold plating, what are the benefits, how do you care for it, and why are there different kinds? Read on for answers to all of your plating related questions.

What is Gold Plating?

Gold plating is a process in which a layer of real gold is deposited over another metal.  This is achieved through a process called electroplating, where an electric current is used to bond the metals together.  All different karats of gold can be used in the plating process, normally ranging from 10k to 24k.  All different kinds of base metals can be used as well.

What are the Benefits of Gold Plated Jewelry?

The benefit of gold plating is that it cuts down on the cost of gold used to make the piece, giving the look of gold without the high price associated with solid gold jewelry.  Gold plated jewelry is ideal for pieces that you don’t wear every day, trendy pieces that you don’t plan on keeping forever, and when you need a more affordable alternative to pricey fine jewelry.  

What are the Different Kinds of Gold Plating?

One of the most popular forms of gold plating, and one of the two forms of plating you’ll most commonly find on LocalEcelctic.com, uses brass as the base metal.  Brass is a particularly affordable material which allows for lower costs and therefore lower prices.  We love brass based plating for its affordability.

The other popular plating option is called gold vermeil.  Gold vermeil is slightly more expensive because it uses sterling silver as its base metal, which is more expensive than other metals such as brass, and it uses a thicker layer of plating (more gold content = more $$$).  In the US, for a piece to be considered gold vermeil, it must have a sterling silver base, be plated with at least 10k gold, and must be at least 2.5 microns thick (microns refers to the thickness of the layer of gold applied on top of the base metal).  Since the gold plating on vermeil jewelry is extra thick, it will last longer than gold plated brass.  We love vermeil for its longevity. Although slightly more expensive than brass based gold plating, it’s still a fraction of the price of solid gold pieces.

How Should You Care For Gold Plated Jewelry?

Over time, gold plating can begin to wear down, eventually showing the base metal underneath.  To prolong the life of gold plated jewelry, you should avoid any contact with water, oils, and chemicals.  Always remove your jewelry before washing your hands, working out, swimming, and applying any sort of skincare or body lotions.  When cared for properly, gold plated jewelry should last for years.

When Should You Opt for Solid Gold Over Gold Plating?

We recommend solid gold for pieces you plan on wearing every single day, and for pieces that you want to keep forever.  Examples include engagement and wedding rings, earrings that you want to leave in while showering, sleeping, etc., and pieces that you plan to pass down as heirlooms.

Wondering which kind of plating is used for the pieces on our site?  Every product page includes information on the plating and base metal of each piece.

Find some of our most popular gold jewelry in our bestsellers collection!