Are Gold Plated Earrings Safe? If you are shopping for affordable fashion jewelry, you will come across a huge selection of ‘gold’ pieces, but by now, you know that these pieces of gold jewelry aren’t actually made of solid gold, but they are often gold plated.
It is safe to say that all gold fashion earrings on the market are only plated of gold because there is no way solid gold earrings would be that cheap. But given their popularity and the fact that you probably own a few pairs of such earrings, should you add on to your collection? In other words, are gold-plated earrings safe?
To help find answers and for you to understand whether the gold-plated earrings are safe or not, let’s first take a look into gold-plated pieces and how exactly they come to be.
What is the manufacturing process of gold-plated earrings?
There is a huge variety of gold jewelry available on the market today, which means that if you are shopping for some of the best options of gold-plated jewelry, it can be a little confusing. So, this section takes you through the manufacturing process for the gold-plated earrings.
What’s gold-plated jewelry?
Well, a gold plated earring is a piece of jewelry that features an ultra-thin layer of gold, often 0.05% gold or even less. This gold layer is applied on top of certain base metals like copper, sterling silver, or brass.
This thin gold layer plated on the base metal created the sparkling gold plated earrings you see all around.
Note that the gold-plating process makes some of the cheapest kinds of gold jewelry, generally because you only have a very thin layer of gold added to the base metal affordably, and this thin gold layer doesn’t last long, meaning that the plated-jewelry will tarnish after you wear the earrings for some time.
Now, while gold in itself is tarnish-free, the gold plated gold jewelry will tarnish very soon because the base metals like brass or copper will react and create that tarnished look when the metal is exposed to harsh conditions.
So, how is gold plating done?
Here is a step by step guide on how gold plating is done. Note that the process is also referred to as electroplating, and as mentioned above, it involves the incorporation of a layer of gold on the surface of another metal. Here is how the plating is done:
- Surface Preparation– the piece to be plated must be clean, and the surface is stripped clean of dirt and oils before the piece is polished. This is essential for the improvement of the jewelry’s adherence and to keep the plating tank clean and free of contaminants.
- Cleaning– this involves electro-cleaning, steaming, and even ultrasonic cleaning. Think of this as the deep-cleaning phase, and it ensures superior plating results.
- Rinsing– this is essential for the removal of remnant cleaning agents
- Strike– here, the strike or flash layer of a very high-quality nickel is plated to the base metal. In this case, the nickel is used as a bonding agent between the base metal’s underlying surface and the plating. This buffer layer prevents contamination of the plating tank. It is also the go-to strategy when the base metal is copper because this metal has a tendency of migrating outside the gold layer after plating; hence the tarnish spots are seen in cheap jewelry. The strike layer will, therefore, extend the brightness and the life of the gold plating.
- Rinse– this removes remnant cleaning agents – it involves the use of water.
- Base Coat– this isn’t always followed, but when it’s done, nickel, copper, and gold would be used.
- Final coating– this is the electroplating process, and it’s done in controlled conditions at a specific temperature, time, and voltage. The pieced is then submerged into the gold plating solution, where it attracts gold ions. Here, the plating thickness is controlled.
When done, the piece goes in for the final rinse before it’s dried.
Do gold plated earrings cause infection?
Gold-plated earrings may cause infections, but this happens indirectly.
Ideally, the pretty gold-plated earrings aren’t durable, and the plating could easily rub off the wrong way, exposing the underlying metal, resulting in irritation, which could cause an infection if it isn’t handled soon.
Irritation or deep scratches create a home for bacteria, which is why you shouldn’t keep the earrings on if they cause irritation.
Are gold plated earrings good for sensitive ears?
No. As seen in the gold-plating process above, the gold-played jewelry contains nickel in there, and if you have sensitive ears, it often means that you are allergic to nickel, meaning that it wouldn’t be a good idea to wear gold plated earrings.
If you must accessorize, opt for earrings made of hypoallergenic materials like tungsten, titanium, or biocompatible surgical stainless steel.
Are gold plated earrings safe?
If you have sensitive ears, the gold-plated earrings are unsafe and not ideal for you.
If you need good quality jewelry for your sensitive ears, we’d recommend the APP-approved solid 14Kgold earrings, which though expensive, they are nickel-free, and they’ve been alloyed specifically for biocompatibility.
The other safe metals used in jewelry include the inert platinum, niobium, titanium, and the APP-approved biocompatible surgical stainless steel.
Keep in mind that in as much as surgical stainless steel is often advertised as one of the skin-safe metals, it isn’t always the best or the safest metal for earrings if you have extra sensitive ears because it is an alloyed metal that often contains nickel.
Are gold plated earrings safe for babies?
If you are planning to get your baby’s ears pierced, the most important thing to do is to be patient and only have her ears pierced after his/her first tetanus shot.
And opt for the earrings made of 14K or 18K yellow gold, approved biocompatible surgical stainless steel, or platinum, and the earrings must have screw-on backs. Avoid that cheap gold-plated stuff.
Gold plated jewelry is one of the most popular kinds of jewelry on the market, but it might not be the safest kind of earrings for you if you have sensitive ears.
So, unless you don’t have any sensitivity issues, it would be a good idea to opt for the hypoallergenic earrings.
Again, thanks for reading. See you guys in the next post!