What are the Difference Between Gold Filled, Gold Plated, Sterling Silver, and Silver Plated?
Published On: 12-02-2011 02:26pm
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Category: Know Before You Buy
We often heard/read sellers describing their choice of metals in their listings. Some used Gold Filled, the others used Silver Plated, and what is Vermeil? These metals are all bode different values, some are more expensive than the others. Shop smart, know your metal before you buy.
This is a quick brief about those jewelry terms as quoted from Ebay's Guide
and Rio Grande's product guide:
is marked .999 = 100% silver. Also
called pure silver.
is an alloy and
is marked .925 = 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals, usually copper.
Argentium® sterling silver
is a trademarked brand of sterling silver
that resists firestain and tarnish. Not to be confused with "Argentium
Argentine Plate" or "Argentum" which are nickel alloys containing no
material that is overlaid by a mechanical process with a layer of
silver. Not common in jewelry. Items I have seen marked silver filled
are vintage charms as well as religious and military medals.
is another material,
brass/pewter/white metal/plastic etc, that is plated with a layer of pure
is sterling silver that is plated or coated with gold.
is an alloy of tin and is marked Pewter.
It is 90% Grade A Tin and 10% metals appropriate for use in pewter.
is marked 24 Kt. = 100% gold. Also
called pure gold.
are alloys of gold.
material that is overlaid by a mechanical process with a layer of gold.
The gold layer must constitute at least 1/20th of the weight of the
metal in the entire article. Gold filled is preceded by a karat
designation, but isn't required to be preceded by a fraction. Also
called: "Rolled Gold Plate
," or "Gold Overlay
." May be marked "14 Karat
Gold Filled," "1/20th 14 Karat Gold Filled" or other appropriate marking. Rolled Gold Plate
and Gold Overlay
may also be used when the gold layer does not constitute at least 1/20th of the weight of the
metal in the entire article.
They are preceded by a fraction disclosing the portion of the weight of
the metal in the entire article accounted for by the plating, such as
"1/40th 12 Kt. Rolled Gold Plate."
is another material that is plated with a layer of gold or gold
alloy. The layer of gold, not less than 10 karat fineness, is required to be of a substantial
thickness, and the
minimum thickness throughout is required to be equivalent to one-half micron (or approximately
20 millionths of an inch) of fine gold. May be preceded by a karat designation.
and Gold Washed
are similar to gold plated, except they do not meet the minimum thickness specified for gold plated. Silver filled
is a new material that's been introduced to the market in 2011 following the skyrocketing silver value. The silver used for the bonding process can be either fine silver or
sterling silver. Silver-filled fabrication metals offer the bright
whiteness of silver at a fraction of the cost of solid silver and
provide higher quality finished pieces than you can produce with
silver-plating. Silver-filled is made in two qualities: 1/20 silver-filled and 1/10
silver-filled. The fraction indicates how much precious metal is bonded
to the substrate. Silver-filled that is 1/20 contains 5% sterling silver
by weight; 1/10 contains 10% sterling silver by weight. Silver filled can be soldered, cut, rolled, stamped with no flaking or delamination issue.
About the phrase "sterling silver plated":
There is no such
thing as sterling silver plated.
These are misnomers
that are cropping up more and more often to refer to silver plated items i.e.
"another material, brass/pewter/white metal/plastic etc, that are plated with a
layer of pure silver" or "another material that is overlaid by a mechanical
process with a layer of silver." Always check for the word plated or filled in
the description even if you see sterling in the title. Especially if the price
looks too good to be true. If you don't see the word plated or filled, and the
price is still too good to be true, try searching the listing using the "Search"
or "Find" function under "Edit" in your browser. Sometimes it is in very small
If you see
"STERLING SILVER PLATED
items listed to the
right of this guide, they are a good example of this deceptive practice. Since
sterling silver items cost more than silver plated or filled items,
manufacturers and sellers can get more people to look at their items by
mis-describing them. The proper term for these items is "silver plated
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