Journal / Materials
Gold Plate vs Gold Bonded: What’s the Difference?
If you’re shopping for a gold chain or bracelet, you’re more than likely going to see a lot of options. Gold plated, gold vermeil, gold filled, gold bonded, and solid gold: what’s the difference, and which one is better? It’s ok if you don’t know what any of these terms mean. We’re here to help you with that!
Many customers come to us and ask, “what is the difference between gold plated and gold bonded jewelry?” Because we are known for our high-quality gold bonded mens chains, we want to ensure our customers know the difference and why we’ve chosen to design and make our chains with this method. And on a scale from gold plated to solid gold, the difference is extreme. Follow along for the breakdown of all these methods.
A lot of super affordable jewelry is gold plated, but it’s not made to last which is why a lot of fast fashion brands sell gold plated pieces. Gold plating is a process of electroplating a thin layer of gold to a base metal of copper, nickel, brass, or another inexpensive alloy.
So is this still gold jewelry? In one word, yes. Others might scream, “It’s not real gold, it’s fake gold!” The issue here is the gold content. Gold plated jewelry does not need to have a minimum percentage of gold to make it gold plated. So while a layer of real gold ranging from 10k to 14k is used, the layer is very thin and is plated to an inferior quality gold alloy that will eventually show through making your plated piece less than 1% gold.
This might be a good option for you if you’re looking for something inexpensive or for a costume. But be warned, gold plated jewelry cannot get wet and may turn your skin green or black. If you have allergies or sensitive skin, you may want to pass.
If you’re looking for jewelry that lasts but is still more affordable than solid gold jewelry, gold bonded jewelry is what you’re looking for. The term gold bonded can be confused with vermeil and gold filled jewelry, even gold plated because it’s not solid gold. But while it has similarities to all these methods, it is different and has requirements in order to be called gold bonded.
Let’s start with the base: 925 sterling silver is always the base metal for gold-bonded jewelry. Next is the gold: the amount of gold must be above 5% and is closer to 10% or more. The process of gold bonding ensures durability and strength to withstand sweat, water, and wear and tear. With this process, the gold layer ends up being thicker and maintains shine and color well.
As long as you take care of your gold bonded jewelry and keep it clean, it will last for a long time. Gold bonded chains won’t turn your neck green and shouldn’t irritate your skin, even if you are sensitive to jewelry.
Let’s talk about some alternatives to gold plated and gold bonded jewelry. Vermeil jewelry, also known as silver gilt, is comprised of a 925 sterling silver base and a pure gold bonded layer to the outside. So how is this not the same as gold bonding? With gold vermeil, the amount of pure gold must be a minimum of 2.5 microns or 5% of the item’s weight in gold, but it usually doesn’t exceed this to maintain a lower price point. It is also electroplated rather than bonded directly to the silver base. Still, this is a higher-quality process compared to gold plating.
Is gold waterproof? Water does not exactly harm solid gold, but it can reduce its shine. So, if you’re looking for waterproof gold jewelry, an alternative on the market is gold filled jewelry, which has a higher gold content than plated and vermeil jewelry. It has to have a 1/20 gold content but is often bonded over brass. This can present a problem for those with allergies. Gold filled pieces are often confused with gold bonded items because the process is similar, yet not as high quality as gold bonded. A gold filled piece will look good but may not last as long as a gold vermeil or gold bonded jewelry piece.
Gold Jewelry: Which is Best?
We always recommend considering your budget and lifestyle when considering which gold chain or gold bracelet to buy next. At JAXXON, we prefer gold bonding because it makes for a more luxurious and premium jewelry piece, and we use the same real 14k gold as our solid gold collection. Our #1 men’s chain, made of 14k gold bonded over 925 silver, is a best seller for a reason. Just listen to three-time olympian and fitness influencer, Anthony Woods. “You can see and feel the difference. Really nice shine to it, nice and smooth.” If you’re looking for gold jewelry that feels expensive and will last forever but is still attainable, consider gold bonded jewelry. Our jewelry experts can help you find the perfect chain or help you upgrade to solid gold jewelry when the time is right.