Gold Fill battles Gold Plate: Who wins and why? June 21 2019

I have a spiel for markets and other live events about our gold fill products.  It goes something like this:

“All our gold jewelry is gold fill which is a thick layer of 14k gold heat and pressure bonded to a base metal. It is a higher quality than a plate and wears very well.” 

Sounds good right?  I have looked up the difference between fill and plate a number of times and always thought this was the best explanation in terms of technicality and understandability.  It wasn’t until I gold plated some jewelry at home that I gained an even greater understanding of the real difference in longevity and quality of the two.  Let me be dutiful and give you the backstory (Geoff loves when I do this in conversation). 

I like to be able to provide all our products in sterling, yellow gold and rose gold so I decided to explore plating since some components are only available in sterling.  I had heard that it was a relatively easy process and upon further investigation found it was.  I purchased a plating kit, learned a little science which since I have forgotten, and did some gold plating at home.  It was quite magical!  Little bubbles appear in your gold solution electrified by a current and voila!  Your silver has turned to gooooooolllld. 

In the midst of performing this process I began to wonder how thick this layer of gold was that I was creating so I turned back to research.  What I found was that gold fill is a layer of gold anywhere from 5-75 microns* thick, chain being at the lower end at 5-10 microns and a bracelet around 30-75 microns.  Standard gold plating is around .5 – 1 micron.  That difference is massive!  Gold fill is the champion by far!  You can wear your fill jewelry for many years without the gold wearing away.  Plate, I cannot vouch for. 

I am still going to explore, test and use plating for supplemental purposes but I will utilize as much gold fill as possible to create my jewelry.  With science on my side I cannot do otherwise.  Hope this also gives you a better understanding of the difference between these two beauties.  


*micron: one millionth of a meter, one thousandth of a millimeter, .000039 of an inch