At Vrai & Oro, we want to ensure the longevity of your jewelry so you can enjoy it for years to come, which is why we choose to only use solid gold. Since we're serious about gold (it's in our name), we felt it was time to explain what sets these types of gold apart.
When something is gold plated, it means that a base metal like brass has been quickly dipped in a solid gold bath. The gold content is usually less than 1%. While they may possess the same luster and gold appearance at first, this layer is quick to fade when washed, rinsed, or rubbed too hard, leaving behind discolored skin and dirty looking jewelry. Most fashion jewelry is gold-plated, making the cost as low as possible.
Gold Vermeil is a common type of gold plating, which uses sterling silver as the base metal. Vermeil is more hypoallergenic and has a thicker layer of gold than normal gold plating, which is why you'll see it in stores selling fine jewelry. However, with enough scuffs and scratches the plating can wear off.
Instead of being dipped in gold, Gold Filled jewelry undergoes a mechanical bonding process that melts a thicker layer of gold onto the base metal. By law, gold filled jewelry must contain 5% gold by weight to be categorized as such. Because of this, the inside of a gold filled jewelry piece will still be stamped with a karat number, however this is only for the filled coating. While filled jewelry will maintain its gold cast for longer, it will inevitably undergo discoloration and tarnishing after time.
When jewelers simply refer to "gold," they are usually talking about solid gold. Solid gold's name is a bit misleading—while it's the highest quality type of gold, it isn't 100% gold element (or Au on the Periodic Table). In its most pure form (24k) gold is soft, almost orange in color, and altogether too weak to work with for jewelry. Because of this, alloys are added to create a more structurally sound metal that mixed together, is known as "solid gold."
Not all solid gold has equal proportions of pure gold, however. 14k solid gold, used in our everyday jewelry, has 14 parts pure gold and 10 parts other alloys, whereas 18k gold, used for our wedding collection, is 18 parts gold, 6 parts alloys. You can learn more about these differences in our journal post.
Up Next: 14k vs. 18k Gold
When should you opt for 14K vs 18K gold in your jewelry or engagement ring? We break down the difference in their durability, how the gold percentage is measured in each, and what exactly a karat means.