Buying Guide: What does Gold Plated Mean?

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Imagine how heavy a solid gold dress would be? 

Some of our most loved pieces are gold plated. Because gold is expensive, a lot of designers – especially young ones, experiment with gold plated to keep their costs low. For the wearer, there isn’t too much of a difference at first glance since both are pure gold on the outside.

If a piece is labeled gold plated, that means the jewelry made of a base metal or sometimes silver that has been finished with a thin layer of gold on top.

Gold plated jewelry will never be worth as much as solid gold, but you can still buy very high quality pieces this way. In our mind, the main deterrent for purchasing gold plated jewelry is that the gold can wear off. This is especially true on high-impact pieces such as bracelets or even necklaces.

How To Know if you’re buying gold plate jewelry:

Look for the following markers:

  • 14KGP: A base metal covered with 14k gold. You might also see other numbers such as 10K
  • Bonded Gold: Just means gold plated.
  • 14K HGE: Stands for 14K Heavy Gold Electroplate, which refers to the process for plating the metal called electrolysis.
  • Vermeil: Is usually found on older vintage pieces and refers to gold plate over sterling silver, instead of the more common copper.

Splurge or Save: Monogram Bracelet

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We love our initials, but it can be hard to pull off a monogram. It usually feels either too preppy or, dare we say it, egotistical. But on our favorite accessory, jewelry, they are a great way to share a family name or a loved one.

The most common initial jewelry are rings, which can be worn by men and women, but we’re partial to these light but still significant bangles. The gold-plate or sterling silver ones are practically a perfect match for the more expensive 14k gold piece, and at half the price, a great way to personalize your everyday jewelry without breaking the bank.

Two of these are a pretty way to wear your favorite letters or gift to a good friend.

From top left, clockwise:

Mark & Graham, gold-plate and sterling silver: $159

Gemma Gray, 14k gold, $300

Goop, gold-plate and sterling silver, $130