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The Difference Between Gold Filled, Gold Pated & Solid Gold

Not all that glitters is gold my loves.  Following on from my chats I’ve had with some of you on instagram, I wanted to touch on solid vs plated gold. I was surprised by the number of you guys who told me you didn’t know the difference, or weren’t sure of the value of solid gold compared to plated or filled so let’s do some learning together! 

Chains in various shades of gold

To start at the very beginning, gold is an alloy that has 24 parts, so when something is 24k gold that means it’s completely solid gold nothing else mixed in. Now because gold is such a soft metal solid 24k gold isn’t suitable for jewellery as it’s just too soft to withstand the wear and tear of use. 9ct gold is 9 parts gold, 15 parts other alloys (most commonly silver, copper and zinc). 18ct gold is 18 parts gold, 6 parts other alloys. The difference here is that the alloys are mixed with the gold while in liquid form so you can file all the way through the gold and will find the exact same on the inside as the out. This is considered solid gold jewellery.

Gold plated jewellery however is a base metal, which can be silver but is often a lower quality metal like brass or steel with a layer of gold plating over the top. If you were to file through something gold plated you would see a clear line where the gold meets the base metal, which is why plated jewellery is only suitable for irregular or costume use, over time with exposure to acids and oils (like the ones our lovely human bodies make and we add in our skincare regime) the plating will rub off / discolour. If you’re anything like me this is probably what you experienced when you were 15 and bought lots of costume jewellery at Lovisa and it turned our skin that lovely shade of green.🤢

There is a third finishing option, gold filled. This is somewhere in the middle in the quality scale of solid gold (best quality option) and gold plated (worse quality option). Gold filled jewellery is usually made with silver as the base metal, and has a layer of gold bonded to the metal at high heats and pressure. This still will wear off over time, but is generally a better quality option that will weather better than gold plated.

Gold chains on a crystal pillar

Now I know what you guys are thinking, cool I just learn some science, but why do I care?! So I will just tell you why I care and why here @ earth heart I only do solid metals; I don’t like disposable products. I dont like buying something that isn’t a consumable item where I am going into the sale knowing it will be sent it to landfill one day. That’s a real bummer for me. I think if we are buying things we don’t need to survive, and jewellery is not necessary it’s a luxury item, then we should do so with a conscience and with the intention for the item to be loved and cherished, and at absolute worst be melted down one day and made into something new.

I think most of you guys are a lot like me, you care about plastic free packaging, you care about vegan materials and tools and you care about fair and safe work practices; so to me, buying solid + good quality items is a logical step on from there and I think you guys will be with me on this too.

Thanks so much for reading this far! 

Oodles of love, 


Gold chains on pink background

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