A guide to types of Gold

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A quick guide to what is and what isn’t gold  
This is a simple guide to types of gold and types of plating and not professional advice, listed from worst to best.

GOLD WASH   The thinnest type of gold covering, This is called gold wash or sometimes flash gold. It is a form of plating that uses the minimum of gold. It is a very thin coating of electroplate gold of perhaps only a  ½ micron (1 micron is 1 millionth of an inch). This is not normally marked with any hallmark and will come off with very little wear. It is used on cheap jewellery and does not normally have any standard.

ELECTROPLATE The second type is Electroplate. This is a layer on jewellery perhaps up to 20 microns of gold on a base metal article. This can be good value depending how thick the plating is and this will determine how long a piece will retain its gold shine.  This is quite good plating, so 20 microns if used on say a watch case would wear well and perhaps last many years if it was treated well. Pieces like this may be marked with GP after the Carat of gold used. So for example 18ct GP sometimes they include the thickness of the plating, stating ‘18ct GP 10 Microns’.

HARD GOLD ELECTROPLATE A better version is Hard Gold Electroplate. (HGP, HGEP) this is Similar to the type above only it is made with a thicker coat. Perhaps 100 microns of gold may be used in this process.  If you are going for electroplating then this is the best type and usually marked with something like HGP and maybe the gold ct, e.g. 18ct.

GOLD FILLED Gold filled is similar to rolled gold below and has good standards; maybe 1/20 of the article is gold. Marked as 1/20 18ct GF. This is a good type of Gold plating and should last a long time.

ROLLED GOLD is a fusion process where layers of 9ct or 18ct gold and metal are specially heat fused together. From this the gold metal jewellery is then made. The gold is then throughout the item, it is not plated. Usually the pieces are marked / stamped which tells what gold was used. For example 1/20 18ct RG means an 18carat was used and 1/20 of the weight of the piece is 18ct gold. This is an excellent process for making jewellery and can stay beautiful for a lifetime and usually at much less cost than solid gold.

SOLID 9ct 18ct 24ct GOLD Solid Gold you are probably familiar with the marks. It ranges from 9ct to 24ct. In England we have very strict rules and all pieces have to have a hallmark if produced here. There are a few centres which are allowed to hallmark, e.g. London, Birmingham and Glasgow. The articles are all carefully tested before stamping. Please see pages in my Redford Silver shop for more information on full gold & silver hallmarking.

Hope that helps you to choose your gold jewellery pieces and remember, it is not always about the metal, it may be just what you like and are happy with that matters. Many people prefer silver, which personally is my choice, its not about the price, its about the look. Anyway, it’s good to know with gold what exactly it is that you’re buying! Enjoy your jewellery! Best regards, Bob.
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