Gold jewelry – plated or 9 carats?

on July 13, 2020

We’ve written before about 24, 18, and 14 carat gold. Now it’s time to look into 9 carats and gold-plated jewelry. If you don’t have time to read our other blog, here’s the three sentence summary: 24 carat is the purest gold out there, but it’s soft and vulnerable to scratches. 18 carat is 18 parts gold, 6 parts alloy, it won’t tarnish easily and is used in engagement bands, but it is still a bit soft and can scratch. 14 carat is what we use, it’s strong enough to hold our elegant and fine designs but still pure enough to have that lovely gold lustre!

Now, what about gold-plated and 9 carat gold jewelry…

9 carat jewelry, why not?

It’s definitely durable and inexpensive, with 9 parts gold and 15 parts alloy. It’s therefore a lot cheaper than the higher carats. It’s increasingly popular for young folks on a budget looking for durable engagement rings.

9 carat gold is less ‘goldy’ however, although with clever alloy combinations people are getting better at making it keep that gold colour. The downside is this may not last as well. As over 60% of the metal is alloy (usually a blend of copper and silver) it is much more likely to discolour. This can be overcome with cleaning.

Gold-plated jewelry

Gold-plating is complicated and could occupy a book, let alone a blog. But we want to give you guys the highlights and some hopefully helpful pointers. So here goes…

Gold-plating varies in thickness, usually between 0.17 to 2.5 microns. What is a micron I hear you ask!? A micron is 0.001 of a millimetre. So 0.17 of a micron is VERY thin, and should really be marketed as gold electroplated or gold washed. Gold-plating at this end of the spectrum will wear off very quickly is worn regularly (best for earrings and pendants, not rings and bracelets that get more wear and tear).

1 micron might not sound much, and it isn’t in terms of the value of the gold, it should be a lot harder wearing. Also be sure to check what metal is under the gold plating as metals including nickel, cobalt, and zinc, are more likely to cause irritation.

There are options above gold plating, including gold vermeil, which is a (much) thicker coating of gold that should sit on a silver core metal (hypoallergenic) That can be a good step-up from gold-plated.

Why we still love 14 carat gold jewelry

Our pieces are designed for people who want the value and unique beauty of gold with the durability to pass down generations. We also want to be able to create beautiful and delicate items that hold their shape and shine. For us, 14 carat strikes the right balance for our mission.

The good news is, as we’ve now explained, there is gold for every occasion!