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If you're in the market for some new jewelry, then you've likely heard the term "gold filled" mentioned a few times. You may have even noticed the letters "GF" etched onto jewelry you already own. But what is gold filled jewelry? How does it compare to real gold? Does it have any value or is it just another cheap alternative to the real thing? Read on to find out.

What Is Gold Filled Jewelry?

Gold filled jewelry consists of a base material coated in a layer of gold. In many ways, it's quite similar to gold plated jewelry. However, gold filled jewelry has a much thicker gold coat than gold plated jewelry. Most gold filled jewelry contains nickel, copper, as the base metal. But more expensive gold filled jewelry can feature sterling silver as its base metel. If it has a sterling silver base then it's hypoallergenic and unlikely to aggravate skin conditions. Another hypoallergenic gold alternative is gold vermeil.

Because of its higher gold content, gold filled jewelry is one of the most expensive alternatives to real gold jewelry. However, it's also one of the most durable. High-karat gold filled jewelry can last up to 30 years, meaning it may be the best economical choice in the long run.

Gold Filled Chain

How It's Made

Gold plated jewelry is created using pressure bonding. The base metals are molded into shape and wrapped in a gold sheet. Extreme heat is then used to fuse the sheet and base material together. It isn't a particularly long process, but it's quite complex. If performed incorrectly, the quality of the finished product may be negatively affected. For this reason, we advise against purchasing gold filled jewelry from hobbyists designers who lack the expertise of professional jewelers.

Pros and Cons

Gold filled jewelry has plenty of advantages when compared to other real gold alternatives. However, it does have its cons in areas where something like gold plated jewelry would excel in.


There are plenty of pros to gold filled jewelry. Learn about them below:

Higher Gold Content

Gold filled jewelry has a higher gold content than most other real gold alternatives. Unlike gold plated jewelry, gold filled jewelry retains some value after purchase. Obviously, it won't fetch as much as solid gold. However, pre-owned gold filled jewelry will still have some re-sale value when brought to the right place.


Gold-filled jewelry with sterling silver as the base metal is hypoallergenic. This makes it completely safe to wear even for those with sensitive skin.


As mentioned, gold filled jewelry can last up to 30 years when properly maintained. Even lower-quality gold filled jewelry has a long lifespan when compared to gold plated jewelry. In most cases, you can expect to get at least ten years out of your piece before it begins to flake.


This type of jewelry has a few cons. Learn about them below:

Flaking Is Inevitable

Despite the thickness of its coat, gold filled jewelry will inevitably wear away over time. Some pieces may last a decade and others may last three times that long before flaking occurs. However, you can be certain that the coat will begin to chip sooner or later. This is the case with gold plated jewelry also. However, gold plated jewelry can be easily re-plated. Repairing the coat of gold filled jewelry is more complicated. In many cases, simply purchasing a replacement will prove more economical.


Gold filled jewelry is much less expensive than real gold. However, it costs more than most other alternatives to real gold jewelry. By contrast, gold plated jewelry is usually quite affordable and is a favorite of those trying to look good for less. Rose gold is another popular option for those on a tight budget.

Gold Filled Jewelry Versus Real Gold

Gold filled jewelry is a lot more than an affordable alternative to real gold jewelry. It boasts many of its own unique features and attributes. It's much easier to care for than real gold. It's also more widely available.

The downsides are that it's not as valuable and it's not as durable as real gold. Although the near 30-year lifespan of gold filled jewelry is impressive, it pales in comparison to that of pure gold. Pure gold jewelry can last indefinitely when properly cared for. This is why archaeologists continue to unearth intact gold artifacts from ancient societies.

Caring for Gold Filled Jewelry

Gold filled jewelry doesn't require a lot of maintenance. But there are a few things you can do to prolong its luster. When not wearing gold filled jewelry, be sure to store it in a jewelry box. This will prevent dust from accumulating on its surface.

Over time gold filled jewelry may be stained by the oils of your skin. When this happens, a gentle cleaning routine is necessary:

  1. First fill a bowl with lukewarm water and shampoo. Dish soap can also be used, but shampoo is preferable because it's less abrasive.
  2. Dip a soft bristled toothbrush into the water and use it to delicately brush your jewelry.
  3. Brush with just enough force to create a lather.
  4. Continue to glide the toothbrush across your jewelry until all blemishes have been eradicated from its surface.
  5. Finish by drying your jewelry piece with a soft cotton cloth and returning it to storage.

Gold Filled Necklace

Where to Buy Gold Filled Jewelry

Like real gold jewelry, gold filled jewelry is stocked by most jewelers. But unlike real gold jewelry, it can also be purchased in clothing and accessory stores. Lower-karat gold filled jewelry may even be found in drug stores and thrift shops. It's also widely available for sale online.

Scammers often advertise gold plated jewelry as "gold filled", and it's difficult to tell the difference between the two by simply looking at a picture. This means most victims don't realize that they've gotten scammed until it's too late. When using the internet to search for gold filled jewelry, we suggest buying from reputable sellers only. If you do choose to buy from an independent seller online, then be sure to check their reviews beforehand. Don't order from them if there are any negative reviews. The complete absence of reviews should also make you suspicious.


There are plenty of alternatives to real gold jewelry. However, few alternatives more accurately mimic the real deal than gold filled jewelry. It contains 100% more gold than its gold plated counterpart. It's also markedly more durable than most other real gold alternatives. Even in everyday wear, gold filled jewelry can last for decades before flaking starts. These benefits have made this real-gold alternative quite popular.