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Gold plated jewelry is often brushed off as a cheap, and therefore inferior, alternative to real gold jewelry. However, labeling it as "inferior" is unfair. That would suggest that it's an imitation of the real thing and nothing more. In reality, gold plated jewelry boasts a number of unique advantages. We'll examine those advantages in this article. We'll also examine some drawbacks to help you decide if gold plated jewelry is right for you.

What Is Gold Plated Jewelry?

As its name suggests, gold plated jewelry is jewelry coated with a layer of gold. This allows it to accurately mimic the appearance of pure gold. The materials used in gold plated jewelry vary. Some designers use silver, while others use a combination of materials such as copper and nickel.

Gold plated jewelry is manufactured using a process known as "flash plating". This involves dipping a base material into gold solution. The solution coats the jewelry and dries, giving it the appearance of genuine gold.

Gold Plated Box Chain Necklace

How Long Does Gold Plating Last?

There are several factors that determine how long the plating will last. The first factor is how thick the plating layer is. Gold plating has different levels of thickness which are measured in microns- on average the thickness is .5 microns to 1 micron. The second factor is how well you take care of your jewelry piece.

Chemicals and substances that are not pH neutral can negatively affect the plating. We recommend that you remove your jewelry before swimming in a pool or the ocean, because both chlorine and salt water are not pH neutral and they can cause damage. Sweat can also be acidic, depending on the person, so it's best to take off your jewelry before working out.

Here is the bottom line: If you have a thicker plating and you take good care of your jewelry, then the plating will last a few years. But if you have a thin plating and you don't take good care of your jewelry, then the plating will only last around one year.

Pros and Cons

Below you'll find the major advantages and disadvantages of gold plated jewelry outlined in detail.


There are several strong pros for buying gold-plated jewelry:


Because it's primarily composed of alloy materials, gold plated jewelry is much more affordable than real gold. It also costs less than many other real gold alternatives.


When not mixed with additional materials, gold is quite soft. This is why gold jewelry features a combination of gold and alloy. The less alloy present in gold jewelry, the more susceptible it is to damage. Because gold plated jewelry is a base material coated with gold, it's more resilient to damage than the real thing.


Genuine gold jewelry can be difficult to find in certain regions. There is the option of buying it online, but shopping online is not for everyone. Gold plated gold jewelry is much easier to find. It can also be found online, in jewelry stores, department stores, clothing shops, and even supermarkets.


There are a few cons to buying gold plated jewelry:


It's important to remember that a lot of gold plated jewelry uses copper or nickel as a base material. Both are allergens and have been linked to skin irritation. If you have suffered from dermatitis, hives, or similar conditions in the past, then it may be best to avoid gold plated jewelry.

Thin Coat

Gold plated jewelry generally has a thin gold coat. Over time, it will wear away, exposing the base material. When this happens, you'll have to either pay for re-coating or purchase a replacement.

Less Valuable

A big downside is that gold-plated jewelry is much less valuable than real gold jewelry. You can't pawn gold-plated jewelry, you can't easily resell it for similar value, and the price won't rise with the price of gold.

Gold Plated Earrings

Alternative Options

If you don't feel gold plated jewelry is right for you, then there are several alternative options you should consider. Below, you'll find a brief review of two popular alternatives to real gold.

Gold filled jewelry is also coated with a layer of gold. However, the layer is much thicker on a piece of gold filled jewelry. In fact, gold filled jewelry boasts two times as much gold as its gold plated counterpart. This makes it more resistant to flaking and thus will last longer. Of course, the increased gold content also makes it more expensive.

Gold vermeil is .925 sterling silver coated with a layer of gold. It's an affordable alternative to real gold and it's used to manufacture jewelry, tableware, and furniture. It's more expensive than gold plated jewelry. The gold covering gold vermeil is usually between 14 and 22 karats. Unlike gold plated jewelry, gold vermeil is hypoallergenic. This means that it's unlikely to cause or aggravate skin conditions.

Our Recommendation

So with no shortage of real gold alternatives to choose from, why should you buy gold plated jewelry? The main reason is that it effectively mimics the appearance of real gold for half the price. We recommend it if you're trying to look stylish for less. It can also be a good idea if you travel a lot. Whether on your finger or in a case, jewelry sustains a lot of knocks in transport. This can result in lasting damage to real gold jewelry. Also, its low price means that it can easily be replaced if lost.

We advise against gold plated jewelry if you have a history of skin conditions. The use of allergens such as copper and nickel in its manufacturing means it will likely cause or aggravate irritation. If you don't have to worry about skin conditions resurfacing, then gold plated jewelry is definitely worthy of your attention.

If you can afford it, then real gold jewelry should also be given strong consideration. It's generally a better option because it will be able to sustain its look and value over time.