If you like vintage and antique jewellery, you’ve probably come across pieces that are described as “Gold,” “Gold Filled,” “Gold Plated,” or any of a dozen other terms that use the word Gold. It’s crucial to know the difference between these prevalent expressions while searching for vintage and antique jewellery, whether on eBay or at your local antique mall or for industrial purposes because of the gold electroplating service. All “Gold” is not created equal.
To truly comprehend any of these phrases, you must first understand certain gold fundamentals and gold electroplating services.
Gold is a non-metallic element. This signifies that pure gold is composed entirely of gold atoms. Copper (formed entirely of copper atoms), iron (made entirely of iron atoms), and aluminium are examples of elemental metals (made of nothing but aluminium atoms). Gold is orangish-yellow in colour (often referred to as “buttery” yellow), has a bright shine (high lustre), is highly soft (it scratches readily), and is exceedingly flexible in its natural state (it can be hammered and stretched easily with iron tools).
When individuals refer to the “Gold Price,” “Spot Gold Price,” or “Gold Bullion,” they are referring to pure elemental gold. On the other hand, pure gold is so delicate that it is rarely used to produce jewellery because it cannot withstand daily wear. A pure gold ring, for example, would lose its shape with time, and any stones embedded in it would be at risk of falling out. So instead, the majority of jewellery is comprised of a “gold alloy.” Any two metals can be combined to form an alloy and gold electroplating service. Brass, for example, is a copper and zinc alloy. Copper and zinc are melted together and “stirred” to make brass.
On the other hand, gold alloys are created by melting pure gold and mixing it with another metal (usually silver, copper or tin). As a result, most gold jewellery on the market today is created from a gold alloy of some sort.
Indicating Gold Content
Because gold jewellery is typically sold as an alloy, knowing how much pure gold it contains – and consequently its inherent value and the gold electroplating service – is critical. The Karat System and the Numeric System are two standard systems for marking gold content in jewellery (known as “Fineness Marking”).
The Karat system is employed in the United States and countries that export considerably to the United States. Pure elemental gold is referred to as 24K gold in the Karat System. In the Karat System, 24K gold is the highest standard.
24K gold is gold in its purest form, with no other metals added (but most 24K gold contains trace amounts of other metals). Even excellent gold bullion is called 99.999 per cent gold rather than 100 per cent gold for this reason). The quantity of “karats” of gold in each alloy indicates gold alloys in the Karat System. In the United States, for example, 14 Karat and 10 Karat gold are often seen. 14 Karat Gold is made up of 14 parts (or “karats”) of gold and ten parts (or “karats”) of another metal (58.3 per cent pure gold). 10K gold is made up of 10 parts gold and 14 parts metal (41.6 per cent pure gold). Other common signs include:
- 18K = 75% Pure Gold
- 12K = 50% Pure Gold
- 9K = 33% Pure Gold (common in British and Antique Pieces. It is technically unlawful to represent 9K gold in the U.S. as being solid gold)
While 20K, 21K, and 22K gold artefacts are uncommon in the United States, they can be found occasionally. These are typically from the Middle East (e.g. Kuwaiti) or the Far East (e.g. Hong Kong).
The primary fineness marking system outside of the United States (and a few other Western countries) is a numeric system that specifies pure gold on a foundation of parts per thousand.
If something is 18K gold (75 per cent pure gold), it is 750 parts out of 1000 pure gold. It’s a percentage — 750/1000 = 0.75, or 75%. The first number is used in the Numeric Marking System (also known as the “European System” or “Convention System”). As a result, an object that was 75% gold (18K in the Karat System) would only be labelled with the number 750. Similarly, an object containing 58.5 per cent gold (quite near to 14K in the Karat System) would be labelled with the number 585. 375 = 375/1000 or 9K Gold 875 = 875/1000 or 21K Gold are other popular markings.
So, to answer the question of 10k considered plated or goldfilled? Neither of them. If it’s just marked 10K, it’s a 41.66 per cent gold alloy with another metal or metals (usually copper or copper and silver). So, it’s made of solid gold.
Gold-filled with a base metal core and a gold or gold alloy layer that accounts for at least 5% of the object’s weight. If the thing is designated 10K gold-filled, the gold layer over the base metal core is 10K, or 41.66 per cent gold, yet the gold still accounts for only 5% of the overall weight.
Gold plating refers to the process of gold electroplating service an extremely thin layer of gold onto a base metal that can be as thin as a few millionths of an inch thick. The gold may make up less than.01 per cent of the total weight of the piece.
Because gold is a precious metal, it is not an inexpensive option for industrial use, hence industrial gold electroplating service is costly. This is why Smart Microns provides a zero-waste gold electroplating service with the lowest gold-to-surface-area ratio possible.