Gold-Plated Vs. Gold-Filled: What You Need To Know

19 March 2020
 Categories: , Blog


Precious metals are often considered good investments because their value tends to remain steady on the market. Gold is one of the most precious metals, and collectors will typically look for scrap gold items that they can sell to a gold buyer for a profit.

You will probably come across a couple of identifiers as you scour the jewelry case at your local pawn shop or thrift store for scrap gold. These identifiers are gold-plated and gold-filled. It's important to understand these identifiers if you want to maximize your profits when buying scrap gold.

Production Process

The difference between gold-plated items and gold-filled items begins during production. Gold-plated items are usually made of a non-precious base metal that has been dipped into gold. The item will have the appearance of being made of gold, but the actual gold content will be very low.

Gold-filled items are produced by plating several layers of gold onto an item made from a non-precious base metal. The additional layers help to strengthen gold-filled items and adds to their overall value.

Gold Content

Another key difference between gold-plated and gold-filled items is the amount of gold they contain. The gold found in plated items is nominal, and most collectors don't even bother purchasing these scrap items to sell to a gold buyer because the profit margin is so slim.

Items that are gold-filled have a higher gold content than their plated counterparts. As a general rule, you can estimate that gold-filled items will contain at least 5% gold alloy by weight. This can be enough gold to warrant an investment in a piece of scrap gold-filled jewelry.

Age Matters

When it comes to investing in scrap gold jewelry, age does matter. Both gold-plated and gold-filled items have been produced for the consumer market for many years.

Manufacturers in the past did not have the technology and equipment that modern manufacturers enjoy, so the gold layer(s) on both plated and filled vintage or antique items is thicker than the gold layer(s) found on modern pieces.

The older the scrap jewelry you can find, the more gold content it is likely to have. This makes hunting for gold to buy at a thrift store, antique market, or pawn shop a productive endeavor.

Most scrap jewelry is marked to help identify what it's made of and where it came from. Knowing the difference between gold-plated and gold-filled will help you better identify scrap gold that is worth buying in the future.