Gold-Filled vs Gold-Plated - Which is Better?

Sep 12, 2023
Gold-Filled vs Gold-Plated - Which is Better?

Gold-Filled vs. Gold-Plated: Which is Better?

When you’ve got a hankering for some gold jewelry but don’t want to break the bank. Gold can be expensive, there’s no doubt about that but there are more affordable options out there. You’ve probably seen gold-filled or gold-plated pieces and wondered what the difference is and which is better. Well, you’ve come to the right place. Both gold-filled and gold-plated jewelry have an outer layer of gold over a base metal but there are some key differences to be aware of before you buy. Gold-filled jewelry typically lasts longer and holds up better to everyday wear and tear, while gold-plated jewelry is more affordable but the gold plating eventually wears off. 

Defining Gold-Filled and Gold-Plated Jewelry

If you're in the market for some new jewelry and wondering whether gold-filled or gold-plated is the better option. Gold-filled jewelry is made of a solid layer of gold that is mechanically bonded to a base metal core typically brass. The gold layer must be at least 1/20th the total weight of the piece. Gold-filled jewelry lasts longer than gold plates because the gold is thicker and more durable. The gold content also gives gold-filled pieces an attractive yellow glow similar to solid gold.

Care and durability

Gold-filled jewelry will typically last 10-30 years with normal wear before the gold starts rubbing off. To keep your piece looking its best, avoid exposing it to harsh chemicals and remove it before swimming or bathing. With proper care, gold-filled jewelry can become an heirloom that lasts generations.

Gold-plated jewelry, on the other hand, has a thin layer of gold pressed onto a base metal, usually silver or copper. The gold plating is very thin, typically less than 2.5 microns, so it will scratch or rub off over time with regular use. Gold plating is an affordable option if you want the look of gold without the cost, but it typically only lasts 6-18 months before showing signs of wear.

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If you want an attractive piece that stands the test of time, gold-filled is probably your best bet. But if you're on a tight budget and want something temporary, gold-plated jewelry can fit the bill while still giving you the coveted gold glow. The choice is yours!

How Gold-Filled and Gold-Plated Jewelry Are Made?

Gold-filled and gold-plated jewelry are made using different processes but in the end, provide similar looks at very different price points. What's the real difference and which is better for you?

How Gold-Filled Jewelry is Made?

Gold-filled jewelry is made by heat and pressure bonding an actual layer of gold to a base metal like brass. The gold layer has to make up at least 5% of the total metal weight to be called "gold-filled." This thick layer of real gold is what gives gold-filled jewelry a look and feel comparable to solid gold at a fraction of the cost. 

  • The gold layer is permanently bonded to the base metal, so it won't rub or flake off with regular use.

  • Gold-filled pieces can last 10-30 years with normal wear before the gold layer starts to show signs of wear.

  • Gold-filled is a great choice if you want an affordable piece of jewelry to wear often and for a long time.

How Gold-Plated Jewelry is Made?

Gold-plated jewelry is made by electrochemically depositing a thin layer of gold onto a base metal like nickel or copper. The gold layer is very thin, usually only a few micrometers thick, and will eventually wear away.

  • The gold plating can rub or flake off over time with frequent use or contact. Replating may be needed every 6-18 months to maintain the gold color.

  • Gold plating is a more affordable, temporary option best for jewelry you don't intend to wear regularly or want to replace often.

  • For the price, gold plating allows you to stay on trend with the latest styles.

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Value Comparison: Which Is More Expensive?

When it comes to gold jewelry, you have two options: gold-filled or gold-plated. Both offer an affordable alternative to solid gold but there are some key differences in their value and quality.


Gold-filled jewelry, which has a thick layer of gold mechanically bonded to a base metal, tends to be more expensive than gold-plated pieces. The gold in gold-filled jewelry makes up a higher percentage of the total weight, typically 1/20th to 1/10th. Gold-plated jewelry has a thin layer of gold that is electrochemically bonded to a base metal, usually comprising less than 1/20th of the total weight. So if cost is a concern, gold-plated may be more budget-friendly.


The thicker gold layer in gold-filled jewelry makes it more durable and long-lasting. The gold is less likely to scratch, fade or rub off over time with frequent use. Gold-plated pieces typically only last 6-18 months before the gold starts showing signs of wear. Gold-filled can last 5-30 years or more with proper care. If you want jewelry that stands the test of time, gold-filled is probably your best bet.


While gold-filled contains more gold, gold-plated jewelry offers an affordable way to get the luxurious look of gold. For most people, gold-plated pieces are fine for occasional or fashion jewelry. However, gold-filled or higher karat gold are better options if you're looking for high-quality, heirloom-style jewelry.

Resale Value

Gold-filled jewelry holds its value much better over time and is more likely to be accepted by jewelry buyers and resellers. The higher gold content gives it an intrinsic resale value close to the current gold price. Gold-plated pieces have almost no resale value since the gold layer is so thin.

Gold-Filled vs Gold-Plated: Which Should You Choose?

So you’re in the market for some gold jewelry or accessories and want to know whether gold-filled or gold-plated is the better choice.


Another benefit of gold-filled pieces is that they are more hypoallergenic than gold plated. The thicker gold layer prevents the base metal from contacting the skin, reducing irritation for those with metal allergies or sensitivities. Gold plating is so thin that the base metal, like nickel, can still cause a reaction in some people.


In terms of appearance, gold-filled and gold-plated items will look very similar, with a yellow gold exterior. However, over time gold plating will start to fade, rub off, or tarnish - revealing the base metal underneath. Gold-filled jewelry retains its bright gold color much longer due to the thicker gold layer.

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While gold-filled pieces are more expensive upfront compared to gold-plated items of the same karatage, gold-filled is more affordable in the long run considering how much longer it lasts. Gold-filled also holds its value better over time.


To keep your gold-filled jewelry looking its best, avoid harsh chemicals, limit exposure to water, and store pieces separately to prevent scratches. For basic cleaning, use a soft brush and mild detergent with warm water. Polish lightly with a jewelry polishing cloth to restore shine. Proper care and routine maintenance will maximize the longevity of gold-filled pieces.

In the end, while gold-plated jewelry may seem appealing for its low initial cost, gold-filled jewelry is worth the investment for a quality piece of gold jewelry that will last and last. For affordable long-term wear, gold-filled is the clear choice.


The main differences between gold-filled and gold-plated jewelry is that gold-plating may seem more affordable and glamorous with its bright gold shine, gold-filled is the higher quality and more durable option. If you want a piece that will last a lifetime and beyond, gold-filled is absolutely the way to go. The next time you’re in the market for gold jewelry, keep these key points in mind. Do you want something that just looks fancy for a season or two, or an heirloom that can be passed down for generations? For longevity and true value, always choose gold-filled.

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