Difference between: Solid Gold vs Gold-Plated vs Gold-Filled Jewellery

With so many terms to describe gold jewellery, it can be confusing to know exactly what you’re buying, the value of your pieces and how to look after them.

Here we explain the difference between solid, plated and filled jewellery.

Diagram showing the difference between solid gold, gold-filled and gold-plated

Solid Gold

Solid Gold jewellery is the most valuable form of jewellery you can buy. Purity of gold is expressed as carats or karats. The purest form of gold is expressed as 24 carats and is very yellow in colour and soft in texture. Due to this, gold is often mixed (aka ‘alloyed’) with other metals to make it more durable for the purposes of wearing it as jewellery. Gold is one of the most valuable resources in the world and and will a very long time as long if cared for properly.

Gold Filled

Gold Filled is not the same as Solid Gold. It is a fraction of the cost of Solid Gold and is made by bonding gold to a base metal to give it the appearance of gold. The process involves a high amount of heat and pressure and the resultant gold filled piece is typically more durable than a gold plated piece. However, over time, Gold Filled jewellery does not wear well and does not hold value like Solid Gold does. Gold Filled is suitable for fashion jewellery that has a limited life span.

Gold Plated

Gold Plated jewellery consists of a very thin layer of gold being electrically charged onto a base metal or sterling silver. If sterling silver is plated in gold this can also be referred to as “Vermeil”. Gold Plated jewellery is the cheapest and lowest quality of the three metal types. They have an average lifespan of up to a year (with minimal exposure to moisture).

Which one is the best?

There are pros and cons to all types of metals, but Solid Gold is generally the more superior metal because it’s the most durable, valuable and least irritating to those that have allergies to base metals. However, Solid Gold will be more expensive than plated or filled metals.

Gold Plated pieces are a more affordable alternative, however they only contain a tiny amount of gold and any friction will cause the plating to rub off quickly, leaving a dull piece of metal. Most base metals used in Gold Plated jewellery also tend to stain your skin green or cause allergic reactions. Gold Plated jewellery is only suitable for fashion jewellery, and requires more care and maintenance, as exposure to small amounts of moisture, sweat and lotions will degrade the piece rapidly. Regular re-plating is also required to restore pieces back to their original condition, resulting in added ongoing expenses.

Gold Filled pieces are also a more affordable alternative to Solid Gold, however over time they will also degrade and discolour.

With more affordable alternatives in lower carat gold (e.g. 9k gold), Solid Gold pieces will:

  • Always be valuable
  • Last longer and require less maintenance
  • Encourage sustainability due to the longer wearing nature of fine jewellery pieces

SIT & WONDER was created to meet this need for premium, yet accessible fine jewellery, in a market saturated by two extremes: fast-fashion and unattainable luxury.

All of our jewellery is either crafted in Solid Sterling Silver or Solid 9k Gold, at accessible price points.

I hope you feel inspired playing with your jewels, as you sit and wonder...

Emily Ko, Founder of Sit & Wonder