Popular 18K gold-plated jewelry is usually made from sterling silver or another base metal. The gold layer on top of the piece is 75% pure. It is not real gold. Some people do not know if it is real.
It is also more fashionable, as its price is less expensive than gold jewelry made entirely of this precious metal. Remember that jewelry with 18K gold plating will last longer than those coated in 24K gold because it is less soft. Let’s find out if the 18K gold plating is real or fake.
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Gold Plating History
Jewelry made from pure 24K gold does not exist. It is not possible to make jewelry from 24K pure gold because it is too soft.
There is evidence that Columbian smiths used a special technique to gold-plate copper in the north of Peru. (guanine-gold) was an alloy of copper and gold that contained 10% to 30% copper, and 70% to 90% gold.
Their gold naturally contained 5 to 10% of silver. Some of these ceremonial gold and silver artifacts are as old as 50 to 300 AD.
Italian chemist Luigi Brugnatelli is the first person to have plated a thin layer of gold onto silver, after discovering electroplating. Gold plating is a popular way to make jewelry today.
Jewelers use 18K because 24K is too soft. In order to create such jewelry, the base metal is coated with a thin gold layer.
It is almost impossible to tell the difference between gold and gold-plated jewelry at first sight. The gold used in gold plating contains 75% pure gold.
18K Gold Jewelry vs. 18K gold plated jewelry
18K Gold Jewelry is 75% pure gold or 18 parts and 25% or 6 silver, copper or zinc. It is firmer than 24K gold and can be used to create different types of jewelry.
The 18K-gold-plated jewelry, on the other hand, is made from silver or a low-quality base material coated with a thin 18K-gold layer. This gold layer is typically 0.17 to 2.50 microns thick (u).
Gold electroplated, gold wash or gold flashed are all terms for the thinnest gold layer, 0.17 u. You can get pendants and earrings covered in this way, but rings are not recommended. This jewelry is not gold jewelry because it contains only 0.05% gold. This layer will tarnish in a matter of days.
It is recommended that gold-plated jewelry be between 0.5 and 1 u thick. This is sufficient for bracelets, and rings that are subjected to heavy wear.
You can sometimes find heavy-duty gold-plated jewelry that is 2.5 u thick. This coat, although it is more durable and long-lasting, is thin and practically worthless. The main benefit of thicker plating is that it can last up to two or three years.
Another option is made from unfriendly gold material and a low-quality alloy. This option can only last a few weeks and is harmful. It’s not recommended.
If you are trying to determine what type of jewelry you own, it is best to check for a stamp. A typical 18K gold jewelry piece will have stamps such as 18K or 18KP. The most common markings on 18K gold-plated jewelry are:
- 18GP (gold-plated)
- 18HGP (heavy gold-plated)
- 18K HE
- 18K HE
- 18K GEP
If you notice the sign 10 Microns on your gold-plated jewelry, it means that the gold is 10 microns thick. If a jeweler uses sterling silver for the base metal, then you’ll see markings.925 beside one of the signs that determine gold plating.
Is 18k gold plating real or fake?
You can generally consider 18K gold-plated jewelry as real gold. However, it is only the coating that is made from this precious metal. Base metal is almost worthless, so it’s not a good investment. At current market prices, you can only resell a silver piece that is coated with gold. Sadly, not much.
This jewelry is popular today because of its durability, gold color, and affordable price. When maintained properly, if the jewelry is made of decent material, it can last up to two full years.
Prices and Quality of 18K Gold Plated Jewelry
Gold-plated jewelry is more affordable than real gold and can be several times less expensive. When buying gold jewelry on the internet, be careful as some pieces are gold-plated and can deceive you.
You can also go to a local jeweler and buy gold or gold-plated jewelry, depending on what you prefer. Although these two pieces are almost identical, they have completely different prices.
18K Jewelry Price
|18K gold jewelry
|$60 to $100 per gram
|18K gold-plated jewelry
|$1 to $5 per gram
|18K gold plated over stainless steel or copper
|6 months to 2 years
|Low-quality gold-plated jewelry
|Less than $0.1 per gram
|Golden material over alloy or plastic
While you need to set aside $3,000 to $4,000 for 18K gold jewelry of 50 g, you will pay only $10 to $50 for 50 g of 18K gold-plated jewelry. In other words, real gold is an excellent investment, while gold-plated jewelry is a beautiful piece you can occasionally wear before tarnishing.
Things can be even worse when you choose low-quality plated jewelry. Since you need to pay only $5 for 50 g or even less, you can expect that this combination of poor-quality golden material and cheap alloy or plastic last for only a few days before changing its color and appearance.
Gold-Plated Jewelry Advantages And Downsides
When buying high-quality 18K gold-plated jewelry, you can use it for months without any signs of tarnishing. Base metal is hard, and you can’t damage it like jewelry made of 18K gold.
Nowadays, you can find high-quality pieces of superior craftsmanship and beautiful contemporary design. That way, you will get a piece of exceptional jewelry without spending too much money. Once an 18K gold layer becomes darkened, you can get it re-gilded.
This jewelry type is ideal for people with sensitive skin or contacts allergies to metals, including silver. The hypoallergenic gold layer will protect you from allergens. However, pieces made of cheap nickel can cause an allergy when the gold layer disappears.
Many people like wearing gold-plated jewelry since you basically get a gold-like piece for an affordable price. Unfortunately, a thin gold layer that coats the base metal tends to tarnish over time.
As a result, base metal becomes visible, and jewelry loses its shiny appearance. Plus, it can cause discolorations on your skin, particularly your finger, while wearing it. It usually happens after the gold layer peels off and the base metal reacts with body oils and sweat.
When based metal is silver, you will notice ugly blackish marks on your skin. On the other hand, greenish traces show you that you have jewelry made of copper under the gold coat.
Storage and Maintenance of Gold-Plated Jewellery
- Keep your 18K gold-plated jewelry separate from other jewelry. This will prevent scratches and friction. To protect these pieces from moisture, oxygen, and sulfur, it is best to place them in a cotton bag.
- It is important to care for gold-plated jewelry carefully, as it does not last long. This will allow it to last from a few months up to two years with no visible tarnish.
- When cooking, cleaning, exercising, or swimming, remove your gold-plated rings. It is best to store it in a jewelry box as soon as you get home.
- Avoid exposing jewelry to chemicals, cosmetics, and perfumes. Remember that even contact with sweat will damage the thin layer of gold and dull your jewelry.
- Clean your gold-plated jewelry with a soft cotton cloth or cotton wool after each use to remove all traces of perfume, make-up, sweat, and other substances.
- It is best to wash it with warm soapy water and let it completely dry before polishing it. Avoid using antibacterial soap to clean as it may damage your jewelry and cause tarnishing.
- Another thing! Gold-plated jewelry should be avoided. You can develop an allergic reaction to nickel or base metals if you peel off the gold layer.
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The 18k gold-plated jewelry is stunning and will suit you perfectly. When you care for it properly, the jewelry can last two years. It is not a good investment because the gold layer underneath is so thin that it is worth almost nothing.