Shopping for Gold Jewelry? Understand Gold Terminology

by : Ian Maher

Gold has been sought, utilized and glorified throughout ancient times, and has found innumerable uses in our society today. Highly valued for purposes ranging from the crafting of fine jewelry to circuitry, gold continues to play an integral role in both the culture and advancement of the world today. Alongside the ever increasing uses for gold have evolved varying methods of crafting this precious metal into gleaming art and jewelry. Some of the methods that have evolved as people have strived to craft durable, affordable gold jewelry have spurred the terminology you will undoubtedly encounter when shopping for jewelry such as gold charms, earrings or eternity rings. Let us take a look at some of the most frequent terms you may encounter when shopping for gold jewelry-gold plated, gold-filled and solid gold:

-Gold Plated: Gold plated jewelry is comprised of a metal base with a coating of at least 10 karat gold applied to the outer surface. Gold plated jewelry may be indistinguishable from solid gold jewelry to the untrained eye, but gold plated jewelry is only protected by a thin sheet of gold, which has a tendency to wear away with use over time. Thus, gold plated is not typically the most desired option for heavily worn jewelry such as wedding bands and eternity rings.

-Gold-filled: In order for a piece of jewelry to be designated as gold-filled, gold must constitute at least 1/20th of the weight of the piece. Gold-filled jewelry is comprised of a base metal coated with one or more layers of gold that have been mechanically bonded to the outer surface.

Jewelry that is gold-filled strikes a middle ground between gold plated and solid gold jewelry. Gold-filled jewelry is enveloped in a significantly thicker layer of gold, giving it less tendency to wear over time than its lightly plated counterpart. For many jewelry consumers, gold-filled jewelry is a desirable alternative to solid gold jewelry due to its strength, resistance to tarnish, cost effectiveness and resemblance to solid gold.

-Solid Gold: Any jewelry or other article claiming to be 'solid gold' or 'pure gold' must be comprised of 24 karat gold throughout. Solid gold's resistance to corrosion and enduring brilliance have made it a desirable metal for jewelry and art throughout ancient history. However, the softness of pure gold makes it practical in many situations to mix pure gold with other metals, increasing its strength for intricate jewelry designs and lowering its cost to end consumers. Today, gold jewelry usually includes a mark designating its karat weight, with 24 K representing solid gold.