Bliss Blog Post

Knowledge is Power

by | Mar 28, 2020 | Gold, Materials

Knowledge Is Power

What I find quite frustrating and misleading in our industry is the use of terminology that is unclear and vague.  It is important to be informed about what this terminology means to prevent you paying more for something thinking it was one thing when it wasn’t.

In particular one of the most confusing aspects for customers involves gold.  Some are labelled gold fill, gold plated, gold vermeil, etc.  I have summarized a few of these to let you know what they mean and how it impacts the value of your jewellery.  Making sure you are purchasing jewellery that matches your expectations is incredibly important.

Make sure when you are looking at the listings on Etsy or other jewellery designers, they ethically should identify if a piece is solid gold, gold filled or plated.  If the price is too good to be true for solid gold it most likely is not.  Make sure if it’s an expensive purchase but not as expensive as what you would expect gold to be priced at that you look at what materials a company is using.  Ask questions, be informed and protect yourself.

Gold Fill versus Gold Plated

Goldfilled jewellery is jewellery composed of a solid layer of gold (typically at least 5% of the item’s total weight) mechanically bonded to a base of either sterling silver or some base metal (copper, tin or zinc).

Goldfilled jewellery should also have markings indicating that they are not solid gold. The most common identifier of gold-filled items is the sign “GF” after the karat number.

Gold Plated

Gold plated means that the jewelry is made with a layer of gold on the surface over another type of metal underneath. The most common identifying marks on gold plate are HGE (gold electroplate) and RGP (rolled gold plate), but not all gold-plated jewellery has such a stamp.

How long does gold plated jewelry last?

Gold plating wears out over time and can flake off, exposing the base metal underneath. It also loses its luster and fades with time. In general, plating can last for up to two years with proper care. 

Gold Plated versus Vermeil

Gold vermeil is similar to goldplated jewellery but the difference is that the layer of gold is thicker and the metal underneath is sterling silver. It will last longer than gold-plated jewellery, but can still tarnish if exposed to water, sweat, or perfume, or the gold may eventually scratch and rub off with wear.

Essentially, gold plated jewellery is the same thing as vermeil jewellery; only the base metal is of a lower quality than silver, such as copper or brass. The gold can be of any quality, and the electroplated layer can be any thickness.


In its most pure form (24k) gold is soft, almost orange in colour, and too weak to work with for jewellery. Because of this, alloys are added to create a more structurally sound metal when mixed together.  The term “karat” has been used for centuries to as a unit of gold purity. Normally we see 10k, 14k, or 18k jewellery; the higher you go the more pure the gold is.