Real Gold vs Plated Gold

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What's the Difference and why does it matter?

We’re often asked questions about the difference between real gold vs rolled gold, or plated gold and silver.  How do you tell the difference?  Why do people want to even bother with rolled gold?  Is plated gold the same as rolled gold?

For starters, let’s look at why rolled gold options are so popular.   For one thing, not everyone can afford or justify the investment in a solid gold chain worth several hundred dollars (or even thousands for really thick chain) when a high quality rolled gold option will do just as well.   A good quality gold over silver plate will last for many years if treated well – and that means not spraying with lots of perfume and hairspray, or in the case of rings and bangles don’t paint the house or milk the cows in them.

There are different qualities of rolled gold – some are simply cheap and nasty and you can see the difference.   A good rub and the gold comes away from the brass or nickel.   But and I stress this highly – good quality 9ct gold over silver or steel, that comes with a guarantee of longevity (sometimes at least six months, some will guarantee for longer),  will be worth considering as an alternative to high value solid gold.

A wedding band, and indeed rings in general are best purchased in solid silver or gold simply because we use our hands so much every day that our jewellery takes a bit more of a hard time.   Necklaces and earrings on the other hand are more durable by their nature and so will last longer in rolled gold.

Real Gold however is what many people prefer and there are reasons mostly based on perceived value and long term investment ideals.   ‘I want to hand this down through generations to come’ and such like.

There’s an easy  way to tell real from plated.  Gold and Silver are not magnetic.   Running a magnet over a chain or piece of jewellery is the easiest way to identify solid from plated, but also if you know what to notice, there is a smell associated with most metals that is not there with gold.

Another thing to look for is the gold or silver stamp on the item – although this is not always present for a number of reasons.   USA products did not require hallmarking on silver until 1975.  Also  some things might be stamped as silver and in fact are not.   Don’t always take this is a sure sign one way or the other.

Another thing to note about gold:  It's nearly always stamped with it's gold weight.  The most common are 9, 10, 14, 15, 18, and 22ct.   This is the amount of pure gold content in the gold mix.  We’re often asked for 24 ct gold.  Jewellery does not come in 24ct as it’s too soft at this pure level for wearing.   Even 22ct is very soft and rings are not usually found in anything higher than 18ct for this reason.

A sign of someone very wealthy in the Middle East and Asia is based on the higher ct of gold worn as this denoted someone able to have servants to do their work.  Therefore they were able to preserve their softer gold jewellery.

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