Dipped, Filled or Solid Gold: Know the Value Before You Buy

When it comes to jewelry, gold is the metal of choice for many people. Gold isn’t cheap, however, and if you’re not sure what you’re looking for, you stand a good chance of not getting your money’s worth. Take a minute to learn more about the most common types of gold before you start shopping.

Solid Gold

Solid Gold

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Most people would assume that the purest form of solid gold would be the most valuable. Pure solid gold isn’t really all that durable though, so it’s often not the best choice for jewelry. To improve the hardness of solid gold, metal smiths create an alloy metal by combining the gold with a small amount of copper or zinc. This percentage is measured in karats.

24K gold jewelry is made from the purest solid gold available, containing 99.9% pure gold. Jewelry doesn’t always have an easy life, particularly rings, bracelets, and watches, so 24K jewelry isn’t always worth as much as 10, 12, or 14K pieces. The different weights of gold, along with their purity, are:

  • 24 Karat: 99.9%
  • 22 Karat: 91.7%
  • 18 Karat: 75%
  • 14 Karat: 58.3%
  • 12 Karat: 50%
  • 10 Karat: 41.7% Pure

Gold Filled Jewelry

Gold Filled Jewelry

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Sometimes called rolled gold, jewelry that is gold filled is often preferred by individuals with allergies and sensitive skin. Gold filled jewelry is regulated just like solid gold and must be marked appropriately. Usually, items that are gold filled are stamped with GF, along with the karat weight. 18K and 14K are the most commonly used.

To be considered a true gold filled piece, it must contain at least 5% gold by weight. The jewelry isn’t actually filled with gold, as the name implies. Instead, sheets of gold are bonded around the outside of another metal, such as brass, copper, or sterling silver. Gold filled jewelry is more affordable than solid gold and can last indefinitely if it is cared for properly, but it doesn’t hold its value as well as solid gold.

Gold Dipped

Gold Dipped

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Jewelry that is dipped in gold contains the least amount of real gold. Because of this, it is the least expensive, but also has the shortest life span. Jewelers typically refer to this jewelry as gold plated and it is often stamped with GP. Similar to the process of making gold filled jewelry, gold dipped pieces begin with a base of a different metal, usually brass or steel.

The piece is then dipped into an electroplating solution containing lumped gold. The procedure causes a thin layer of gold to meld with the base metal for a gold finish. A very small amount of gold is actually transferred in this process and will wear away relatively quickly, especially if the jewelry is worn every day.

Value of Gold

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Use caution when you’re buying gold jewelry. Obviously, solid gold is the best investment, especially if you plan to resell the jewelry, but gold filled pieces are an excellent value for regular wear. Gold dipped jewelry isn’t bad for the price, but don’t expect it to last too long or to hold its value.

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