18k gold plated real or fake? Does 18k gold plated jewelry worth the money? As you guys know, there are numerous variants of gold jewelry, and the most common variety is the gold-plated jewelry.
Gold plated jewelry is by far the most affordable kind of gold jewelry on the market, but what anyone with interests in high-quality jewelry would want to know is whether the gold-plated jewelry is real or fake, and most importantly, should you spend your money on the gold-plated jewelry?
Well, in this article, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about gold-plated jewelry, not just for informational purposes but also to help you make more informed decisions when buying jewelry.
So, keep reading to find out more about gold-plated jewelry.
What does 18k gold plated mean?
When you come across solid 18k jewelry and 18k gold-plated jewelry, you might not be sure which one of the two to pick, especially because some jewelry advertised as high-quality 18k solid jewelry often ends up as 18k gold plated jewelry.
So, what are the differences between the two?
For starters, the biggest difference and the easiest way for you to tell the 18k solid gold jewelry apart from the plated variety is by looking at the price tag.
Oftentimes, genuine 18k solid gold jewelry will cost a great deal of money, and you will have to dig really deep into your savings to afford the high-quality gold jewelry.
The gold plated jewelry, on the other hand, is significantly cheaper than the solid gold, but since 18k gold is used to plate the metal (often sterling silver, brass, copper, or other metals), the plated jewelry is rather pricey.
So, what does the gold plating mean?
18Kgold-plated jewelry refers to the jewelry made of a thin gold layer over a base metal.
Sterling silver is one of the metals often used as the base metal. The gold layer is applied on the base metal through either electrochemical plating or chemical plating, a common jewelry manufacturing process used to create the jewelry that boasts that nice gold richness.
Today, the 18K gold plated jewelry has become increasingly popular in the competitive jewelry market today, not just because of the desirable design, the pleasure of wearing the alluring jewelry, or its reasonable pricing, but also because the 18K plated jewelry boasts an impressive level of hardness.
That said, the most common kind of jewelry made of 18k plated gold is the Cuban link chain.
As mentioned above, plated gold is significantly cheaper than solid 18K gold or gold alloys. Gold plated jewelry contains an ultra-thin gold layer that is as thin as 1/1000 or as thick as 3/1000 of an inch.
Still, confused about the 18K gold-plated jewelry? Think about that plated ring, chain, or bracelet as jewelry whose outer gold layer is made of 75% pure gold.
This percentage of gold only applies to the 1/1000 inch- 3/1000 inch golden layer and not the entire piece of jewelry. Therefore, this means that the gold-plated jewelry actually contains a thin layer of real gold.
Gold Plated jewelry manufacturing process
To help you understand more about gold-plated jewelry and how it comes into being, let’s take a look at the manufacturing process for gold-plated jewelry.
Gold plating, also known as electroplating, can be defined as the process through which items are made of a thin layer of gold on the surface over a different kind of metal that is called the base metal.
While there are rare cases where the plating is done to fool buyers, most plating is done as a way of enhancing the wearability and the look of the jewelry.
The plating process is simple, but you need to make sure that each step of the plating technique is followed.
Here are the steps for gold plating.
- Surface preparation
This is a crucial step that must be followed in all gold plating processes. The metal surface to be plated is thoroughly cleaned to get rid of dirt and oils, and then the piece is polished.
The other steps involved in surface preparation include stripping, sun blasting, polishing, and tumbling, among others. These processes rely on the use of abrasive materials, cleaning solvents, alkaline cleaners, water, acid etch, and other solvent combination.
The most typical method used, however, involves the use of acids or the non-acidic ultrasonic bath, as well as wheel polishing thanks to the use of the high RPM Rouge.
Thorough surface preparation not only gets rid of dirt and oils it also enhances the adherence of the metal while keeping the plating tank clean and free of contaminants.
After surface preparation and the visual inspection, the base metal is cleaned. This second cleaning step involved electrocleaning, steaming, and ultrasonic cleaning.
This second cleaning step allows for deep cleaning, and it’s essential for superior plating results. Steam cleaning blasts off the remaining oils that stuck after the polishing phase, and it ensures that nooks and crannies are cleaned out thoroughly.
Here, the piece to be plated is cleaned thoroughly to get rid of any remnant cleaning agents.
In step 4, a strike layer or a flash layer is introduced. This layer will adhere an ultra-thin nickel layer to the base metal. It is an important step that enhances bonding between the underlying surface and the plating surface.
- Rinse Again
This is the second rinse that removed the cleaning agents.
- Basecoat application
Multiple layers are introduced to the base metal. It features the addition of layers of nickel, copper, and gold.
- Final plating/ coating
The last gold coating is applied under controlled conditions of time, voltage, and temperature. Immersion of the piece to be plated into the plating tank is controlled through the adjustment of the immersion time.
- Final Rinse and Drying
These two are the last steps, but the immersion step could be repeated if the gold layer needs to be thicker.
Is 18KGP fake?
No. 18KGP isn’t fake; it’s only plated and very real. 18KGP means that the jewelry is made of 18karat gold-plated materials like silver or copper. It is not fake, but it’s also not solid 18k gold.
Ultimately, and in time, the gold will wear out, but just because it’s gold-plated doesn’t mean that that the gold jewelry is fake.
Is 18KGP real gold?
18K Real Gold Plated or 18KGP refers to gold plated jewelry made through the process above – depositing a thin gold layer on the base metal. The K value therein determines the percentage of gold in the plated layer. In this case, the 18k gold is a thin layer of gold that is 75% pure gold.
As mentioned above, the gold-plated jewelry such as the Cuban chain links is made of a very thin layer of high-quality 18k or 75% gold. The thin layer is about 1/1000 of an inch or even 3/1000 of an inch. The 18KRG, therefore, contains a layer of 75% pure gold.
It’s also worth noting that there is another type of gold plating called the gold vermeil. Unlike the gold-plated pieces made of a real gold layer and a base metal made of a cheaper metal or an alloy, the vermeil is a special kind of gold plating with gold jewelry featuring the 925 gold stamp.
The gold layer on vermeils is also thicker than in plated pieces, and it contains a sterling silver base, hence the 925 stamp of authenticity. To be identified as vermeil, the gold-plated piece of jewelry must have a 2.5microns gold layer.
So, yes. 18k gold plated jewelry is real. It is also affordable and lasts a while.
The pros and cons of 18k Gold plated jewelry items?
Gold jewelry adds a touch of class, elegance, and timelessness to any outfit, which is why pretty much everyone is often out there looking for the best of gold jewelry.
Unfortunately, the best quality solid gold jewelry is quite expensive, which is why gold plated jewelry is often the best option for most people.
The gold-plated pieces have a solid gold finish and look at a lower price tag, albeit with a reduced level of durability.
Below, we look at the specific pros and cons of gold-plated jewelry.
Pros of 18K Gold-plated jewelry
- It looks like real gold, especially to the untrained eye.
Gold plated jewelry items are significantly affordable compared to the gold-filled and solid gold jewelry pieces. While the solid gold pieces of jewelry cost at least $70, the plated piece of jewelry cost between $5 and $50.
Gold plated jewelry make excellent statement jewelry pieces. Since they are made of different base metals that can be crafted into unique and more intricate designs, for example, copper, silver, or brass, the gold-plating ensures that the jewelry is ideal for statement gold jewelry.
- More design options and possibilities
Most of the gold plated items of jewelry is versatile and ideal for more of the trendy and ‘in the moment’ designs. The best part is that their affordability makes them ideal for anyone looking for eclectic designs that won’t feel like a waste of money.
- They are durable and strong.
The gold-plated jewelry items generally last longer because they are stronger than the pieces of jewelry made of solid gold. While real gold is soft and very malleable, especially at higher karats, gold plated jewelry is made of strong metal bases, and the thin outer layer of gold doesn’t make it any weaker or less durable. Therefore, gold-plated jewelry will withstand a lot more abuse compared to solid gold.
Cons of Gold plated jewelry
- It tarnishes
If you are looking for gold-plated jewelry thinking that the jewelry will not tarnish, you are mistaken. Gold plated jewelry tarnishes because the base metals, copper or sterling silver, tend to react with oxygen, hence tarnishing. Often, this happens when the gold layer wears off, and also because the base metals’ molecules are eventually transferred to the thin gold layer, resulting in the breakdown of the gold layer and subsequent tarnishing.
- The plating can be chipped or scratched.
If you wear the plated jewelry every day, you will notice chipping and scratches after a few weeks. The gold layer could also flake off. This often happens because the gold layer is quite thin, and it can be scratched off easily.
- Lower value
Because of the minimal amount of 18k gold plating on the base metal, the jewelry isn’t really very valuable. Its value could also be low because the thin gold layer is susceptible to flaking and chipping.
- Not safe in the water
Even showering with the gold-plated jewelry could mean the loss of the gold layer, gradually.
Is 18K gold plated jewelry worth buying?
Although the plated 18k gold jewelry isn’t made of solid gold, it is worth buying.
You may need to manage your expectations, but if you are shopping on a budget and willing to take good care of it, then the jewelry is worth buying.
For more details, please read this post: is gold plated jewelry worth anything?
How long does 18k gold plated jewelry last?
While gold plated jewelry wears out over time and it could flake, exposing the base metal underneath, the jewelry lasts about 2 years.
Does 18k gold plated change color? And why?
Yes, 18k gold plated jewelry will change color. The gold layer fades and tarnishes with time, hence the change in color.
This tarnishing is the result of the migration of the base metal’s molecules to the top gold layer, hence the signs of wear.
How to protect your 18k Plated jewelry
- Remove the plated jewelry before exercising or swimming.
- Wear the jewelry after your cosmetics, perfumes, lotions, etc.
- Don’t spray perfume on your gold plated jewelry.
- Clean the plated jewelry using warm water and some drops of mild detergent soap
- Buff it with a soft and clean piece of microfiber cloth after washing and drying it
- Store the jewelry safe in a plastic bag to protect from moisture, oxygen, or sulfur damage
18K gold-plated jewelry is almost as good as the real thing but at a fraction of the price.
It is elegant, looks good, it’s durable, and in cases of sterling silver bases with the best of 18k gold layers, the gold-plated jewelry will be totally worth your money.