The Ultimate Guide to Gold-Filled Jewelry

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The gold jewelry market is vast, with different types and grades of gold to choose from. Gold-filled jewelry is one of those types. It’s the perfect choice for many gold lovers and can be for you too!

If you’re curious about what gold-filled means (whether it’s real gold and how it compares to other types of gold), we’ve got you covered. This guide will take you through all you need to know about gold-filled jewelry! 

What is gold-filled jewelry?

18K Gold Bracelet

“Gold filled” refers to jewelry made by bonding a thick gold layer to another metal like copper, brass, or sterling silver using heat or pressure. 

It is made up of a base metal and a gold layer. The gold layer is at least 10 karats and makes up a minimum of 5% (or 1/20) of the total jewelry weight. Gold-filled jewelry has a beautiful, shiny look, just like pure gold. 

Is gold-filled jewelry still real gold?

Real gold refers to pure gold with no extra metals. While gold-filled jewelry contains real gold, it is not 100% real gold because it has a cheaper, lower-quality base metal. 

Is gold-filled jewelry good? 

Although it is not pure gold, gold-filled jewelry can be an attractive option. Because it’s made by bonding, it does not wear off easily compared to other gold alternatives like gold-plated jewelry and gold vermeil. 

It’s also tarnish-resistant and long-lasting. So if you want a beautiful and durable piece of gold, gold-filled jewelry is an excellent choice!

What is gold-filled jewelry worth?

You can buy a piece of gold-filled jewelry for about $30. Its worth can increase or decrease depending on the karatage which is usually marked on the jewelry. 

For example, gold-filled jewelry with 10 karats of gold as 5% (or 1/20) of its weight will have the mark “10/20.” 

💡 Bottom Line: Gold-filled jewelry is worth more than gold-plated and vermeil but much less than pure solid gold. 

How long will gold-filled jewelry last? 

With proper care, your gold-filled jewelry can last up to 30 years. The gold layer does not wear off or tarnish easily. Gold-filled jewelry is a long-lasting, worthy investment. 

Gold-Filled Jewelry vs. Gold Plated Jewelry 

Gold filled Bangle for Women
Gold filled
Gold Plated Cable Necklace Chain

Gold plated

Apart from gold-filled, there are other pure gold alternatives. Gold plated jewelry refers to jewelry with a thin layer of gold coated over a base metal like copper, nickel, or brass. The gold layer in gold-filled jewelry is thicker and bonded over the base metal. Here’s how both jewelry types compare: 

  • Durability: Gold-filled jewelry is more durable and tough because it contains less soft gold and more hard metals. 
  • Tarnish resistance: Gold-filled jewelry is tarnish-resistant, while gold plated jewelry will tarnish quickly. The gold layer on gold plated jewelry is very thin, so the base metal can easily react and cause tarnish in no time.
  • Lifespan: While gold-filled jewelry can continue looking good and golden for many years, gold-plated jewelry will easily fade away from scratching or everyday wear. Gold-plated jewelry lasts only about two years, while gold-filled jewelry can last up to 30 years. 
  • Cost: Gold-filled jewelry is more valuable and so more expensive than gold-plated jewelry.

💡 Verdict: Both gold-filled and gold-plated jewelry have a nice gold appearance. But if you want a more valuable, tarnish-resistant piece that will last longer, gold-filled jewelry is better. 

Gold-Filled Jewelry Vs. Gold Vermeil 

Gold Filled Chain
Gold Filled
Pendant Necklace Gold Vermeil
Gold Vermeil

The main difference between gold-filled and gold vermeil jewelry is how they are made. Gold vermeil has sterling silver as a base metal, with an averagely thick gold coating while gold-filled jewelry has a gold layer bonded to another metal. Here’s how they compare:

  • Durability: Gold-filled jewelry is more durable than vermeil. The bonded gold layer lasts longer than gold vermeil, which is merely coated. 
  • Tarnish-resistance: While gold vermeil will tarnish fast when exposed to water, sweat, or perfume, gold-filled jewelry will resist tarnishing more. This is because gold itself does not tarnish, but base metals do, and the base metal is closer to the surface in gold vermeil than in gold-filled.
  • Lifespan: Since it is more durable and tarnish-resistant, gold-filled jewelry lasts longer than gold vermeil. 
  • Cost: Gold vermeil is more affordable than gold-filled. Gold-filled jewelry is more expensive, next only to solid gold when it comes to gold jewelry. 

💡 Verdict: Gold vermeil is a nice gold alternative, but gold-filled jewelry is a better and more durable option. 

Caring for Gold-Filled Jewelry 

If you have or plan to get gold-filled jewelry soon, it’s nice to learn how to care for it. Using these tips, you’ll be able to care for your gold-filled jewelry and keep it in good shape for a long time.

  • Always store your gold-filled jewelry in a dry area, so it does not tarnish from long moisture exposure. Keep it in airtight plastic bags. 
  • Do not store your gold-filled jewelry with other jewelry pieces so that it does not rub off and become dull over time. 
  • Occasionally clean your gold-filled jewelry piece with a polishing cloth to keep it shiny.
  • Keep your gold-filled jewelry away from perfumes and skin and hair products that may contain strong chemicals.  
  • When your gold-filled jewelry comes in contact with water or sweat, always dry it with a clean, soft, absorbent cloth.

Can I shower with gold-filled jewelry?

Yes, you can shower with your gold-filled jewelry. It has a thick gold layer over it, and gold is one of those metals you can wear in the shower. Also, because the gold is bonded over a base metal and not just coated, it will not wear off easily when wet. However, repeated exposure to water can cost you the shine of your piece.

How do you clean gold-filled jewelry?

Clean your gold-filled jewelry using a soft-bristled brush and mild liquid soap. Here’s how:

  1. Add a few drops of the soap to warm water and lather it. 
  2. Place your gold-filled jewelry in soapy water for about two minutes. 
  3. Then, use a soft-bristled brush to clean your piece gently. 
  4. Rinse it in a bowl of clean water and dry your gold-filled jewelry with a soft cloth. 

💡 Maintenance Matters: For daily maintenance, clean your gold-filled jewelry regularly, using a soft cloth, to remove buildup. 

The Best Gold Jewelry Alternative 

If durability, longevity, and affordability were a type of gold jewelry, then it would be gold-filled. Gold-filled jewelry will last longer than gold vermeil and not fade easily like gold plated. It’s your best chance to enjoy the interesting benefits of pure gold jewelry at a lower price. 

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