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There are many types of gold jewelry to choose from. As you’re deciding which type is best for you, the factors to consider are the quality, karat, and color.
There are four types of quality in regards to gold jewelry from highest quality to lowest quality:
Gold Filled / Rolled Gold / Rolled Gold Plate
Gold Vermeil (pronounced ver-may)
Gold Plated / Electroplated
Solid gold is the most valuable form of gold you can buy. Solid gold has different purities which are expressed in karats (K or KT). It also doesn’t tarnish easily and if it does it can be buffed, polished, and cleaned to return it to its original condition.
Solid gold lasts forever and it will hold its value the best over the years.
Gold filled jewelry has some value but will typically not be worth a whole lot on the secondary market. Since it is solid gold the gold content is low so the gold value is low as well. Most gold filled jewelry is only worth what someone is willing to pay for the design of the jewelry and not the gold content.
When you’re BUYING gold filled jewelry it is a good bargain, but when you’re SELLING gold filled jewelry it is typically not worth very much. Gold filled jewelry is a decent choice as it isn’t expensive to buy but you also won’t get hardly anything for it if you go to sell it in the future.
If you see a GF stamp on your gold it means it is gold filled. In the United States, jewelry marked GF is required to be at least 5% gold. This is because it is regulated by the Federal Trade Commision (FTC). You might also see gold that is stamped 10/20 or 14/20. In this case, the first number is the karat of the gold used. The second number is the percentage of gold in the jewelry’s total weight.
Furthermore, some stamps might also be 10K GF or 14K GF, which indicates the karats of the gold that was used to fill the piece of jewelry.
Remember, the higher the karat of gold, the more gold the jewelry contains, which in turn means a higher quality piece. In comparison, gold filled jewelry has almost one hundred times more gold than gold plated jewelry. Also, the gold is mechanically bonded to the base metal so it won’t rub off. Lastly, it does not cause an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to metals.
Overall, gold filled jewelry has many of the same qualities as solid gold jewelry at a fraction of the cost but when reselling it the value will also be lower.
The third highest quality of gold jewelry is gold vermeil (pronounced ver-may). This type of gold coating is thicker than gold plating and it is typically layered on top of sterling silver. In the United States, at least 2.5 microns of gold plating is required to be layered onto the sterling silver, which is more than twice the gold content of gold plated pieces.
So not only is the gold plating of vermeil jewelry thicker than basic gold plating, but the sterling silver base is also a higher quality than the base metal in gold plated jewelry. Sterling silver is made when pure silver is mixed with copper. The result is an alloy that is not as soft as pure copper and is much more durable.
Sterling silver is normally 92.5% pure, which means only 7.5% of the mixture is another metal such as copper, zinc, or nickel.
The lowest quality of gold jewelry is gold plated, also known as electroplated. This is when the coating (or layer) of gold on the outside of the jewelry is so thin that there are only a few microns of gold in the plating. The base metal of the jewelry beneath the gold plating is usually brass or copper. Because the gold plating is very thin, the gold can rub off easily and it is more prone to tarnishing.
Here’s a great chart to visualize the differences in the four types of gold qualities:
Image from Simple & Dainty
When it comes to karats, there is a wide range of karats to choose from when buying gold. A gold karat is 1/24 part of the whole, and the purity of a gold alloy is expressed as the number of these parts of gold it contains.
The higher the number of karats, the purer the gold is.
Here’s a helpful chart to visualize the different karats of gold:
Image above from Sacramento Gold & Diamond Buyers
What’s The Difference Between A Karat And A Carat?
“Karat” and “carat” are both measurements used in the world of jewelry. They have the same pronunciation but are spelled differently and refer to different things.
A “karat” is the measurement of the PURITY of a precious metal (like gold). A “carat” is the measurement of the WEIGHT of diamonds and other precious stones (rubies, emeralds, etc.).
Since both terms are used in regards to jewelry many people think that they are interchangeable but they actually are not. The one is used when referring to gold purity (typically) while the other is referring to gems and jewels.
Is Gold Filled Jewelry Worth More Than Sterling Silver Jewelry?
Like gold, silver by itself is too soft to use for jewelry. That is why it is combined with other metals which results in a stronger alloy that can be used for rings, bracelets, necklaces, watches, etc. To get more technical, “solid” silver is 92.5% sterling silver. The other 7.5% is a mixture of other metals to strengthen the silver.
If you see .925 stamped onto the piece, that indicates it is sterling silver.
Keep in mind that, like gold, sterling silver can tarnish. However, an untreated (no added polishing compounds) microfiber jewelry cleaning cloth can be used to shine your silver and remove light tarnish. In extreme cases you might need to use a mild dish soap and warm water along with polishing, or a vinegar/baking soda mix.
In terms of affordability, sterling silver is more affordable and long-lasting than gold filled jewelry.
Typically gold filled jewelry is worth more than sterling silver and you should expect to pay more to buy gold filled jewelry than you would with sterling silver. However when selling either gold filled jewelry or sterling silver on the secondary market the value isn’t very high on either of them.
In comparison gold filled jewelry will normally be worth a bit more than a jewelry piece made of sterling silver.
What Is The Best Way To Sell Old Jewelry?
There are many different ways and places to get rid of your old jewelry. While it used to be true that the only place to sell it was a pawn shop, with the massive growth of the internet and many different websites, the possible places to sell your used jewelry nowadays is almost endless.
The most common ways (and places) to resell fine gold, diamond, gemstone and other jewelry are:
- Local jewelry store
- Local cash for gold store
- Pawn shop
- Auction house
- Consignment shop
- Online marketplaces such as eBay, Etsy, TheRealReal, Facebook Marketplace, or Mercari
- Professional online jewelry buyers
For most gold, silver, platinum, and diamond jewelry, I recommend CashforGoldUSA because it’s accredited and rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau. They also guarantee payment within 24 hours.
How Is The Value Of Gold Determined?
While the value of paper currencies around the world can change significantly over relatively short periods, the value of gold has stayed stable for many years. As a result, it’s common for investors to pad their portfolios with gold assets (or other precious metals) to protect their finances.
Gold’s value seems to grow best when things are (or are perceived to be) at their worst. Taking into consideration worldwide crises, the bitter political climate, social unrest, and economic uncertainty, the value of gold seems like it will continue to stay high for many years to come.
If you are considering selling some of your jewelry or antique coins it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the current price of gold. Several factors affect the current price of gold:
- Levels of supply and demand for gold
- Rate of return for the recipient of the gold
- Gold spot price (the gold price per gram paid currently)
- Likely cost of storing and transporting the gold
- Future supply and demand
Similar to the stock market, the price of gold is constantly fluctuating. Here is a website to refer to when you’re looking for the current price of gold: