Does Gold Plated (Jewelry) Wear Off?(Detailed Answer by Jeweler)

While gold-plated jewelry means that you have access to jewelry that looks just as good as the real thing, that gold-plated jewelry is not, in any way, solid or the real thing, which means that you will have that ‘good thing for some time.

The gold-plated jewelry only contains a layer of gold on top of a base metal like brass or sterling silver, and like anything else that is coated, the gold-plated jewelry will wear off.

So, what does this mean for you if you are planning to buy jewelry that is gold-plated? Well, we’ll answer this question and others for you in this article. So, keep reading!

 

What do gold-plated items mean?

Does Gold Plated (Jewelry) Wear Off

If you are looking for good-quality gold jewelry but cannot afford jewelry made of solid gold, gold-plated jewelry might be a great option for you. This is because most of the gold-plated pieces of jewelry are cheaper than the solid gold pieces, although the gold-plated layer will wear out after some time.

So, what does it mean when we say that jewelry is gold-plated?

Well, gold-plated jewelry can be defined as jewelry made of metal where a thin layer of another metal, in this case, gold, is added to the primary base metal. For this to happen, the base metal like brass is dipped in a bath of liquid gold, and it bonds to the brass bass metal thanks to an electric current that passes through the bath, bonding to the base metal to create gold plated jewelry.

The layer of gold that is introduced to the base metal is quite thin, which is why the gold-plated jewelry is significantly more affordable than the pieces of jewelry that are made of gold entirely or solid gold. The affordability of the gold-plated jewelry is also because the brass or other base metals used are cheap.

Most gold-plated jewelry will be plated with 14k gold in a micron-thin plated layer over sterling silver, but the cheapest gold-plated pieces are often made of brass for the base metal. The plating process is also known as alloying.

Does Gold Plated (Jewelry) Wear Off

How then do you tell the gold plated gold pieces from the solid gold jewelry and other types of gold jewelry?

Well, the jeweler is required to indicate whether the piece of jewelry is plated, but even if they don’t, you can still identify the gold-plated jewelry by looking for the hallmark sign.

In most cases, the gold-plated jewelry will have the GP hallmark to show that it is gold-plated, or it may have the GEP hallmark, which represents an electroplated gold piece.

You could also find jewelry options with the HGE stamp, which stands for a heavy gold electroplate, or HGP for heavy gold plating.

That said, there are no specific rules regarding the need to stamp the gold-plated jewelry, and most of the gold-plated jewelry will have no hallmarks.

 

Does gold plated (jewelry) wear off?

Yes, the gold-plated jewelry will wear off. Plated jewelry tends to be quite fragile, but also, the rate of wear will depend on how thin the gold-plated layer is.

Note that, unlike the solid gold jewelry where the gold alloy is the only metallic component of the jewelry hence a slow rate of wear, the plated jewelry often features a very thin outer layer of gold, and this micron-thick gold layer will wear out easily, especially when exposed to harsh environmental conditions.

Does Gold Plated (Jewelry) Wear Off

The chemicals we are in contact with in our daily lives will increase the rate of wear for gold-plated jewelry. These chemicals include lotions, makeup, creams, perfumes, and even soaps and detergents. Some of these products may have ingredients that are harsher than what’s in other products, but as long the compounds are not pH neutral, the gold plated layer will be affected.

One of the early tell-tale signs of gold-plated jewelry that is wearing is tarnishing. Gold-plated jewelry will tarnish and fade with time. The primary reason for this is that the molecules from the base metal will slowly migrate to the top layer of that jewelry, and this manifests as wear–read tarnishing or fading.

The good news is that with proper care, the gold-plated jewelry will last up to a year or longer.

 

Why gold plated jewelry wear off?

Does Gold Plated (Jewelry) Wear Off

The plated layer of gold will wear off with time. It is important to note, however, that the problem with the wearing off of the gold-plated layer doesn’t have to do with that micron-thick layer of gold but the base metal.

The base metals in the gold-plated jewelry are prone to oxidizing and corrosion, which means that the molecules of the base metal will gradually move to the surface of the gold layer.

When this happens, the appearance of the gold layer is affected. Discoloration that looks much like tarnish will appear in a very short time of buying the jewelry if the layer of gold is too thin.

 

How long does the gold plate wear off?

The gold plating is never permanent, and it will wear out eventually, as is the case with all other types of plating. Regarding how long the plated layer lasts, you should know that the plated jewelry doesn’t handle any kind of rough exposure that well.

So, the plated jewelry will wear out over time, and the gold could also start flaking off, a process that will expose the base metal. When this happens, the plated gold jewelry will fade and lose its luster.

Oftentimes, it takes about two years for the gold-plated jewelry start showing signs of tarnishing, especially when you take good care of this plated jewelry.

The good news is that once the jewelry starts to tarnish, you could choose to replace them, especially if you are not yet ready to let go of the jewelry. Just bear in mind that how often you choose to get the jewelry re-plated is something that will depend on the thickness of the gold plating, the color of the base metal, the quality of the gold piece, and also how much wear and tear that piece of jewelry will have sustained.

Does Gold Plated (Jewelry) Wear Off

Pros and cons of gold-plated jewelry?

Pros

  • The gold plated jewelry looks as good as the real gold pieces of jewelry
  • This type of jewelry is quite affordable and ideal for anyone looking for good quality jewelry on a budget
  • The gold plated pieces of jewelry make for great decorative pieces
  • They come in various designs, and you can choose your preferences easily
  • The gold plated jewelry is durable and very strong

Cons

  • The jewelry will start to flake after some time, which can be upsetting and, in other cases, embarrassing.
  • The jewelry will tarnish.
  • The low value associated with the jewelry since they contain a very small amount of gold, often few microns
  • The gold plated pieces of jewelry are not ideal options for everyday wear
  • Most gold plated jewelry is not hypoallergenic

 

Is it okay to wear gold-plated chains?

Well, there is nothing wrong with buying gold-plated jewelry as long as you know exactly what you are buying.

And since they are much cheaper than solid gold jewelry, plated gold chains would be a preferable choice if you need gold jewelry on a small budget.

That said, you should be aware of the downsides of the plated jewelry, which include the fact that the plated jewelry will tarnish and may cause irritation of the skin.

 

Conclusion

Gold-plated jewelry will wear off after some time, and this will happen sooner than you expect if you expose the jewelry to harsh conditions. So, you shouldn’t buy the gold-plated jewelry expecting the jewelry to look good forever.

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