What are the Difference Between Gold Filled, Gold Plated, Sterling Silver, and Silver Plated?

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

sakura chic necklaceWe 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:

Fine silver is marked .999 = 100% silver. Also called pure silver.

Sterling 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 silver.

Silver Filled
is another 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.

Silver Plate/d
is another material, brass/pewter/white metal/plastic etc, that is plated with a layer of pure silver.

Vermeil (vermay) 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.

Fine Gold is marked 24 Kt. = 100% gold. Also called pure gold.

10/12/14/18 Kt. Gold
are alloys of gold.

Gold Filled
is another 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."

Gold Plate/d
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.

Gold Flashed
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 print.

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" or "silver filled".

Read the complete article here.

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I highly recommend this artist! I recently received three gorgeous custom-made pieces that just blew me away! Thank you so much Kharisma! The pod necklace you made for my mother-in-law is just absolutely stunning! Your attention to detail is just amazing! I also LOVE my bracelets! Again, just beautiful pieces! I cannot wait to see my Heart of Michi!! thank you, thank you, thank you! ~ Michi R.

I love my heart! I have bern drooling over your jewlery for along time now. Thanks to a very sweet guy I can enjoy this piece of art daily. I love how the heart just lights up when the sun hits it! I do recomend this! It's very well made and easy to wear! Thanks again for the heart of Lina! ~ Lina A.

Hi Kay, just my angel necklace and earrings they are sooooo cute thank you so very much :) ~ Cheryl M.

I just received my Owl he is so cute! You did an absolutly beautiful job thank you so much!! ~ Kathie M.

OMG, got my goddess necklace today, it took my breath away!!! I worked 12 1/2 hours today and finding it when I got home made my day!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!!!! ~ Dana M. R.

Hey, I just received my lovely pendant today and I was absolutely thrilled. Not to mention it arrived exactly on my birthday ( what are the odds )! I just wanted to say thank you thank you thank you!!!! This item is a dream. I really appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship that went into it. I take my hat off to you. The design is excellent! It's clear that you apply great thought to your items. So yet again, many thanks! It's good to know you're out there! : ))) Warmest regards, Margarita <3

I absolutely adore the (heart) necklace!!! It is just perfect. Well worth waiting for. Thank You....... ~ Brenda C.

I have the MOST beautiful bracelet on my wrist.. THANK YOU so very much. Your craftsmanship and imaginative designs are fabulous..... Next to my wedding ring, my favorite piece of jewelry!! ! Melissa Vess.

Dear Kharisma, today the package finally arrived and I just wanted to let you know that the pendant is absolutely beautiful. For the last years I've worn the golden cross my grandmother gave to me for my Holy Communion but since she died three years ago, I've always been afraid of losing it which would have really hurt me. So I looked for a cross that I could wear instead and when I found the one you made, I was blown away. And what can I say, it was definitely worth the wait. So thank you so much for making such wonderful jewelry and keep up the good work! Best wishes from Germany, Ricarda

Wow! is incredible! This is the money better spent on any gift I've ever done! I think I can not wait to give it to my wife until May 5th or I dare before. And the presentation with the box and the paper inside is great! I almost cry when I saw it. It is the most beautiful of all I've seen, I love the detail of the heart. Surely this is the better gift for the fifth anniversary of my wedding. Thank you very much for the patience you had with the design. I hope to do business with you in the future. Thank you very much for everything! ~ Cesar

Hi, so last week i get finally the pendant and my girlfried was very excited :D everything was ok and the heart is beautifull :) ... so thanks! and a lot of happy customers! ~ Lukas

Hi Kharisma, My wife LOVED the Heart of Robyn. She has worn it just about every day since March 7th (her birthday). She has been showing it off to all of her friends. We love the pendant!

Your work is positively lovely! I adore every piece! I'm so glad not only to receive a piece but also to support you in creating more fine pieces! ~Kathryn

Hi there...send you a big thank you for my tree of life necklace - i received it while i was away on holidays. it is absolutely gorgeous. the way it was packaged was so beautiful too. thanks again... big hugs, may 2012 bring you much happiness. Judy

Hi Kay, When I got back home for Thanksgiving today, it was waiting for me.... All I have to say is...I'm going to faint...it is so beautiful.... I showed it to my family too, they all loved it! :D Thank you sooo much!
~ Yukiko
P.S. I'm also wearing the pagoda earrings today. My mom noticed when I walked in the door so I bragged about them. hehehe. :)

"Yippee!!! My silver wings arrived just now, and I LOVE them! Will wear them as I get ready for my big test, and am sure they'll bring good ju-ju for the exam itself. Thank you so much K!" ~ Sarah B.

"So beautiful. I really love your jewelry. It's something all girls should have as a key accessory." ~ Bethany S.

"Hi Kharisma! I just received the pagoda earrings in the mail today, just in time for my girlfriend's birthday! She absolutely loves them! and they look just like the ones in the photo! (actually, they look better in person!!!) Thank you so much! We'll definitely be coming back again, and look forward to seeing your new projects. Oh and thank you so much for the additional silver studs! It was very thoughtful :) Best, Yuki"

"I already got my sea turtle necklace and my purple bracelet. Finally after months of waiting. And I love love love it soooo much! I wear my 'Myrtle' almost everyday. Thank you Ma.. :)" ~Wanda.

"Hi, I recently purchased one of your rings, my girlfriend absolutely loves it. I'll definitely hit up your store in the future" ~T.

"I just got home from vacation and picked up my earrings at the post office. I wanted to let you know that I absolutely love them! Thank you." ~Diane

"Received my earrings yesterday in the mail and absolutely love them!!! So glad I ordered them! Thanks so much!-Gretchen :)"

"Hi! I received my new necklaces! They are wonderful!!! Thank you very much - and for adding that cute little graduation note too! They look great!!!!! :-)" ~Dana B

"Thanks for the extra links - they weren't needed but that was very thoughtful. Our daughter picked out the bracelet and gave it to her mother yesterday for Mother's Day. She likes it very much. Regards Steve"

"Hi Kay! I got the bracelet in the mail yesterday--it's wonderful! Thank you :D You package your things so nicely ^^ Merry Christmas!" ~Dana

"Hi Kay! The necklace arrived today and it is GORGEOUS! I'm so happy with it :D You are very talented, really. :) All my friends are going to be so jealous of this necklace! If you ever decide to make a matching bracelet, I'll be more than willing to purchase it :D" ~ Dana

"finally got to open it, and they are so so so so so perfect! and the opal crystal was a great choice, just the right ammount of sparkle." - Lois B (on Ladybug Pod Necklace)

"K, My wife is an artist blacksmith and I bought her this necklace for our wedding renewal. She loves it. Thank you."

"I received the earrings and I love them!!! Thank you so much for everything, and good luck with your new life in the USA! -M"

"Hi Kay,
I just wanted to let you know that I got my earrings today (the angel wings and the pearl/crystal ones). They are awesome, I'm so happy with them.
Thanks again,"
H (O:

"popnicute thks i got yr necklace today its amazing!!!" ~A.Z.

"Hi Kay, I just wanted to let you know I've received the package today. And the jewels are SO BEAUTIFUL. I really love them... They're all so lovely I cannot wait to wear them. I think it's the most beautiful things I've ever had. I'll definitely bookmark your page and come back later ;)
All my best," ~C.E.

"Hey I just picked it up from the post office (I wasn't home when it was delivered lols) and I must say that this even better than the picture shown!" ~E.L.M.

"I love the cocoon bead tutorial. Another great tutorial by K!!" ~A.B.

"Wow! I got my tutorial within minutes of my purchase. And the instructions are very clear and I love all the pics that go with it. It's very easy to follow. I can't wait to get started! Thank you so much!" ~P

"Earrings arrived this morning! Thank you so much they are gorgeous! :D" -S.S.