Gold Filled and Gold Plated

If you are on a budget you may consider passing over a solid gold chain for a gold plated or gold filled alternative. You should understand what these terms mean and how they are advertised.

Gold Plated

gold plated chain showing wear

Gold Plated chains are made by electroplating a very thin layer of gold over a cheap base metal which may be zinc, copper or nickel. As this plating is very thin, it will wear through in time and expose  the metal below.

This type of chain when worn everyday will last for only a few months before losing the gold plating. The picture shows the wear on a chain worn for less than 6 months by an office worker.

The thickness of the layer of plated gold can be as little as 2 microns. This is 2/1000 of a millimetre.

A human hair is between 50 and 120 microns, a lot thicker than gold plating.

Look for GP (gold plated) & GEP (gold electroplated).

Gold Filled

Gold Filled chains use a non-precious base metal with a layer of solid gold mechanically bonded to the outer surface. This ‘rolled gold’ or gold filled chain wears better than a gold plated chain, but is only suitable for occasional wear. Costume jewellery is often gold filled.

The thickness of the outer layer of gold filled will vary with the chain size (but is typically 5 to 75 microns). To be able to be called gold filled, the weight of the gold must be at least 5% of the total weight  of the chain. As gold is much heavier than the base metal, the volume of gold may be as low as 1%.

Also known as: rolled gold (RG), rolled gold plate (RGP), gold overlay or metal cladding.

Look for GF (gold filled), GB (gold bonded) and GL (gold layered).


Vermeil is the term for an item made of sterling silver and layered (typically) with gold. The gold layer must be a minimum 10ct and 2.5 microns thick, similar to the thickness of gold plate. This jewellery does not wear well.

We do not sell or recommend these inferior products.

If you are looking or quality jewellery that will stand up to years of daily wear, then only solid precious metals will go the distance.

Information on hallmarks.