Gold jewelry is a simple luxury that makes a great investment and also makes for beautiful accessories to elevate your look. But if you’ve ever gone jewelry shopping, you may have come across various types of gold available and may be confused with all the different terminology. So what’s the difference between them?
Gold is measured in karats (k) that can range anywhere between 9k to 24k (aka pure gold.) The purer the gold, the more yellow-toned and more malleable it is. Though pure 24k gold is too soft to be used for jewelry and can cause it to warp easily, so you’ll often find 14k and 18k gold varieties more widely available. Lower purity golds are mixed with alloy metals to increase its strength and durability. If you’re looking for gold jewelry that’ll last a lifetime, solid gold is a great option. It’s suitable for everyday wear and is hypoallergenic, so it won’t irritate most skin types.
Gold-filled jewelry consists of a base metal, such as sterling silver or brass, that has a thick gold outer layer melted on top via heat and pressure bonding occurring over a long period of time. Gold-filled jewelry is water-resistant and will not easily tarnish or show much wear over time, so this is a great option for everyday wear. It’s also hypoallergenic and is safe for those with metal allergies.
Gold vermeil jewelry consists of high quality sterling silver electroplated with a thin layer of gold on top. The electroplating process chemically binds the two metals together. In order for jewelry to be classified as vermeil, the gold layer must be at least 2.5 microns thick and at least 10k. Gold vermeil is hypoallergenic and an excellent option for those with sensitive skin and metal allergies.
Gold plated jewelry tends to be the most affordable option because the base metal used is typically a low-end metal such as brass or copper (instead of sterling silver.) Also, the outer gold layer tends to be thinner, which may cause the jewelry to be more susceptible to tarnishing over time. Gold plated jewelry is not considered hypoallergenic and may not be the best option for those with skin sensitivities. Though it’s still a great option if you want to try out different trendy styles without breaking the bank.
Gold jewelry prices can vary wildly, however there are many companies that make quality jewelry more accessible at lower prices. Here is a list of some places to find the best affordable fine gold jewelry, without shelling out hundreds or even thousands of dollars:
- Ana Luisa
- Monica Vinader
- Stone and Strand