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Plated Metal and Precious Metal: The Differences


As we know, there are many variations with jewellery that you will come across when browsing the shops or viewing jewellery online, whether it’s sterling silver vs pure silver, white gold, gold-filled etc. With all of these options, it can get confusing to know what it all means!

One of these variations you may see is the term “plated jewellery”. Most commonly, you’ll find items as “gold plated”, but how is this different to normally gold jewellery? In this blog, we will be going over how they differ from one another, allowing you to determine which may be best suited for you.


Plated jewellery Ring placed on a reflective surface


Back in 1805, an Italian chemist, Luigi Brugnatelli, invented electroplating. In simple terms, electroplating is a general name for processes that creates a metal coating on a solid substrate by a direct electric current. As a result, Brugnatelli was the first person to successfully plate a thin layer of gold onto silver. This is how plated jewellery is produced today.
This method of producing jewellery this way does make it significantly different to non-plated jewellery which we will be explaining below.

1. Cheaper

One of the main compelling factors to why people choose to purchase plated jewellery is the reduction in cost in most cases. For example, using a gold alloy for the whole jewellery piece is going to be more expensive since there is a larger amount of this precious metal used.
However, a gold plated version will likely have copper or silver as the metal base, with gold plating around it. As copper and silver are less expensive metals, the cost of the jewellery piece will be much less than the solid gold version.

2. Strong and durable

Pure gold as an example is a very soft and malleable metal. The higher the karat, the softer the gold will be. As a result, to produce jewellery, the gold has to be alloyed (combined with other metals), or plated to ensure it can be strong and durable. Gold plated jewellery can handle everyday wear more so than solid gold.

3. Looks like the real metal

As an external coating of the desired metal is used on a cheaper base metal, it can easily look like the real thing, whilst being much less expensive than non-plated jewellery.

 

Disadvantages of plated jewellery

 

Although plated jewellery does have its advantages, purchasing certain precious metals can be the better option for others due to the following reasons:

1. Tarnishing

A gold plated item for example that has copper or silver as the base metal will undergo tarnishing. This chemical reaction over time will come up to the surface and will discolour the jewellery. So overall, plated jewellery is not expected to last as long as the precious metal.
If you purchase gold with a higher purity rating, then this greatly reduces tarnishing.

2. Scratching and chipping

As the layer of precious metal used to plate the base metal is very thin, it can wear away very easily and can easily be prone to scratching and chipping. A jewellery piece made from all gold alloy for example will have more longevity as there is essentially no layer that can wear away.

3. Cannot submerge in water

If you’re thinking of taking a shower with gold plated jewellery then this will wear the metal layer completely off, if submerged for long periods. More care needs to be taken with plated jewellery for this reason.

4. Less value

As there is only a very minimal amount of precious metal used for plated jewellery, the value will be much lower than the non-plated version. The higher the concentration and amount of this precious metal, then the higher it’s worth.

As a result, there is not a great deal of money to be made when selling metal-plated jewellery.

So overall, if you are not looking to splash out on the more expensive jewellery pieces, then plated jewellery would be the way forward. Just don’t expect it to last forever and constantly look perfect!

If you’re looking for some stunning jewellery pieces at excellent prices, then visit us in our Margate or Ramsgate stores here at Cuttings, or get in touch with our friendly, knowledgeable team today.

Plated Metal and Precious Metal: The Differences

Posted by admin on October 28, 2020