How To Shop For Gold Jewelry

June 09, 2018 3 min read

How To Shop For Gold Jewelry

         Buying gold might seem simple, but not all that glitters is gold. Fancy titles can be confusing- just because the word “gold” is used to describe a piece of jewelry, does not mean it is actually gold. A high price can be deceiving and is not a measure of quality and content. And depending on your occasion, sometimes it doesn’t need to be- it’s all about being an informed consumer; knowing what you need and how to find it.

There are many types of gold jewelry: karat-gold, gold-filled, vermeil, and gold-plated.  We will be explaining the difference between, gold-filled, vermeil and gold-plated jewelry.

         Gold-filled, also known as “rolled gold” or “gold overlay” is made up of a layer of solid gold bonded with heat and pressure to a base metal such as brass (alloy composed of copper and zinc). All of the chains used in our Lulu collection are 14k gold-filled. Since it has a layer of solid gold, this layer can be in different fineness of gold: 14k or 18k. When reading 14/20 stamped on a piece of gold-filled it means that the layer of gold is in 14 karat gold and that the fraction of gold on the total weight of the piece is 1/20 aka the mandatory 5%. In order for a metal to be legally considered gold-filled, it must have a gold content of at least 5% of the total weight of the item.

         When price is an issue, gold-filled jewelry is a good alternative to karat-gold jewelry. Since gold-filled is a fused metal and not plated- it can be cared for like karat-gold pieces. In order to keep your gold-filled pieces in good condition, avoid water. While our pieces are delicate and durable, exercising or swimming is not recommended for your vermeil or gold-filled jewelry. The less moisture your gold-filled jewelry is exposed to, the better. With time, oxidation can occur on all metals, use a professional jewelry cloth to polish off the oxidation.

         Vermeil jewelry (pronounced “ver-may”) is composed of a sterling-silver base metal coated in a layer of gold. The thickness of gold plating is measured in microns. The thicker the microns, the longer the gold plating will last. A vermeil piece must have at least 10k gold- plating to be called vermeil, most luxury pieces are 14k and up. All of Lulu Designs’ vermeil jewelry use 18k gold plating.

         Lastly, lets tackle “gold-plated”. Jewelry called gold-plated is any base metal plated in gold. There are no requirements for gold-plated jewelry, so they are often made up of a very small percentage of actual gold. While some base metals are better than others, manufacturers are not required to tell you what the base metal actually it. Sometimes it can be brass or copper or a mixture of many metals, which is why it turns pink or brown over time. Something to watch out for, many gold-plated pieces can contain nickel- a metal that some people are allergic too. If you get a rash after wearing gold-plated jewelry, you are probably allergic to nickel. Unlike vermeil or gold-filled jewelry, “gold-plated” jewelry will not stand the test of time. Lulu Designs does not make any “gold-plated jewelry.” Our goal is to create well-made jewelry using higher quality metals and gemstones.

Deciding what to buy and working with your budget is important. Being informed is step one of that process. The more you know about what you are buying, the better.  If you have any questions regarding the metals used in our collections, please email us: