The process of gold plating requires a fair amount of specialised equipment and knowledge, and with so many types out there it can be difficult to tell if the jewellery you’re buying is worth the money or whether you can rely on your new jewellery to last. With this in mind, we have put together answers for all the FAQs you may have about our gold plated boho and hippie jewelry, and gold plating in general.
What is gold plating?
While it may seem like an easy process, gold plating some of our boho jewellery takes far more skill than dipping a ring in some liquid gold. The term “Gold Plating” is a general one, referring to when a layer of gold (of any carat) is applied to jewellery of a different base metal. This is done through a process called electroplating. The item must be prepared with a chemical neutraliser, cleaned vigorously in distilled water, and then submerged in a water and “metal salt” solution. An electric current is run through the water, and the “metal salt” containing the gold sticks to the base metal.
Why is gold plated jewellery cheaper?
The only factor affecting the price is the quantity of the precious metal used. As less gold is used, the price of production is much lower, and that saving is then passed to the customer. However, not all gold plated jewellery is made equally. The thickness of the plating greatly affects the price of the item, as well as its quality. Plating is measured in Microns, with 1 Micron being equal to 0.001 Millimetres. Gold plating, by definition, is 0.5 micron minimum. 2-3 Microns is considered high quality, and anything less than 0.175 Micron thickness is referred to as “flash plating”. This is the cheapest gold plating available, and is found in abundance in high street fast fashion.
What is Vermeil and is it better than gold plating?
Pronounced ver-may, Vermeil is the term used to describe jewellery that has a solid sterling silver base, with gold plating of at least 10K on top. Regular gold plated jewellery will cover a copper, brass or nickel base, with any carat of gold on top. This is much cheaper with far less quality.
This is why we only use Vermeil in our boho jewellery collections - it has all the qualities of our solid 925 sterling silver rings that our customers love, simply revamped in a whole new luxurious feel.
Vermeil jewellery is all about balancing cost and quality - here at Fairley Bohemian we have tested out endless combinations and we believe that a 14 Karat plating at a 2.5 Micron thickness achieves the best results across the board. The colour is beautiful, the rings have a luxurious finish and the durable rings can last for years and years to come.
How long does gold plated jewellery last?
Whilst the longevity of jewellery will always be affected by how well it is taken care of, normal gold plating lasts an average of 2 years. Cheap Flash Plating, as you probably have experienced, can last a matter of days...
Vermeil lasts much longer than regular gold plating as it has a much thicker layer of gold. This prevents the plating from rubbing off over time and showing the silver underneath. A common problem with plating onto copper or brass is that the metals react poorly with gold and will quickly wear away and corrode the precious metal from the underside, with no way to prevent it. This is not a problem with vermeil, as both gold and silver are precious metals, which prevents any chemical reaction.
How is gold plated jewellery different from solid gold?
The obvious difference is the amount of gold used in the production of the jewellery. Only a small amount of gold is used in plating, however this makes it more durable, as pure gold is very malleable and can bend or even break very easily. The other big difference is the cost. As less precious metal is used, gold plated jewellery will always be cheaper than solid or filled gold jewellery, allowing you to have the benefits of the added gold layer at a price point you are comfortable with.
Colour choice is also available when plating jewellery, as each carat gives a different tone to the gold. For example, 18K is very yellow, and can be off putting to those looking for an everyday piece of jewellery. We use 14K for all of our boho jewelry as the colour is not as yellow as 18K, but not as muted as 10K, making it the most recognisable as gold. We have tried and tested them all and we just love the 14K colour, it compliments all styles and other accessories with ease. Rose Gold (a blend/alloy of gold and copper) can also be achieved through plating, as can White Gold.
Will my new gold plated boho jewellery turn my skin green?
If you know which metal causes you a reaction then of course have your jeweller confirm the base metals used before you purchase. Many traditional plated rings are plated onto copper or nickel - two metals that people often have a skin reaction to. This is not a problem with Vermeil.
Whilst very uncommon, reactions with sterling silver jewellery do happen, and if you have reacted previously to 925 sterling silver jewellery it is likely you will have a reaction with Vermeil. If you have any reaction to jewellery that you are concerned about, such as rashes or swelling, please see a doctor for professional advice.
How do I take care of gold plated jewellery?
Gold plated jewellery will easily last for years if taken care of properly. This includes removing it for activities such as swimming or cooking, as the moisture will degrade the gold. To clean gold plated items, gently wiping with a microfibre cloth or cotton ball is recommended, as these will remove surface dirt and dampness. In the event that the gold plating does start to thin or degrade, it can always be re-plated to increase its longevity.
What can I plate in gold?
Any metal can be gold plated, but this doesn’t always mean it’s a good idea. Gold plating companies exist that will plate whatever you wish for you, however this can be a lengthy and expensive process depending on the item. DIY kits for home gold plating are also available to purchase, but going to a professional is always recommended. It is also important to think about the purpose of the item you are gold plating, as regular use will cause the plating to fade. This especially applies if the piece has moving parts, and is why we do not plate our spinner rings.
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