Gold-filled versus gold plating. If you’re familiar with jewelry (or even if you’ve only bought a couple pieces here or there), you’ve probably heard of both. I’m a big fan of “gold-filled” jewelry, personally. “But,” you may interrupt me. “What’s the difference between the two? Aren’t they more or less the same thing?” And that’s a good question - the answer is a little more in-depth than a yes or no.
For the record, what is known as “gold-filled” is usually a higher quality of gold plating. Typically, what we know as “gold plating” is a VERY thin layer of gold - “gold-filled” is a much thicker veneer of gold over a base metal. It’s more common in antique/vintage jewelry and typically denotes higher quality than just simple plating. Higher gold content = higher quality. Since the entire point of “gold plating” is to only provide a thin layer over a non-gold material, gold-filled jewelry is going to get you the bigger bang for your buck.
Personally, that’s why I like to buy gold-filled jewelry over gold-plated. Collectors like the material because it looks more “gold-like” than plated stuff, and as I mentioned, it’s typically vintage and of a much higher quality.
So now that you know the difference and why gold-filled pieces are better, where can you pick some up? As you might have guessed, the usual suspects are going to be your best bets for this: thrift shops, garage sales and auctions. You’ll typically see it on bangles/bracelets and pocket watch cases typically marked with things like “1/20 14KT GF.”