Good to Know: Gold vs. Gold Plated

Diamond Promise Earrings

At Visible Interest, we believe in and practice the HIGH-LOW MIX of modern fashion. Don an expensive designer skirt with a simple white cotton tee? Absolutely. Rarely does anyone wear all high-end all the time. We choose our fashion items, including our the jewelry we showcase on the site, on the design, the quality, and the value in relation to what we are getting. As a result, you’ll see a mix of both fine and more affordably priced MODERN JEWELRY on our site.

One of the biggest areas that delineates fine jewelry from fashion jewelry, is the metal used. Sterling silver jewelry can and does fall in both categories, depending on the inclusion of gems, other fine materials and the craftsmanship. Gold jewelry in particular can be expensive.To manage the prices at which they offer their pieces, many of our independent jewelry designers choose to offer styles that are gold plated. So what’s the difference?

Diamond Baguette Swirl Ring

Most fine GOLD JEWELRY is actually made from gold alloys which is made when solid 24k gold is blended with other metals to give it additional strength and wearability. Solid 24k gold is extremely soft and malleable making it easily damaged and not a great choice for most jewelry styles. When mixed with other metals such as silver, copper or palladium, gold becomes fortified yet still retains the luster, hypo-allergenic and non-tarnishing properties so coveted in gold jewelry. Gold alloy jewelry is typically distinguished by modifiers such as 22k, 18k, 14k and 10k. The higher the number, the more pure gold is present in the final metal.

Large Hook Poke Earrings

A lot of jewelry is GOLD-PLATED which helps keeps the cost affordable while giving the piece the look and luster of gold. The process of gold plating uses chemicals or electrical currents to add a very thin layer of gold and bond it onto the base metal. Brass, bronze or silver are typical of the base metals you'll see in our fashion jewelry. When the base metal is silver, gold plating can be referred to as gold vermeil. Gold’s resistance to tarnishing still exists in plated pieces, however as the base metal ages over time, thinner plated items can show age with heavy wear. Most of our designers use extra heavy layers of gold plating. Merewif, for instance, also applies a special coating to further protect the metal from additional signs of wear keeping the gold layer intact and shiny for a long time.