If you ever hear these terms thrown around when shopping for jewelry, it can get quite confusing, especially if you are not sure what they mean. Here is a quick guide to educate you so that you may better understand!
The manufacturing processes and the amount of gold used are different on gold fill vs goldplate. Gold fill has 100x MORE gold alloy than gold plate, and so for the obvious reason, your goldfill jewelry will long outlast goldplate, and is also built to be more durable to everyday wear and tear. Gold plated jewelry also doesn't withstand heat, water and body chemistry for very long.
THE "ANTI TARNISHING/ WATERPROOF "CLAIMS
Yes, it is certainly true that goldfill can last a long time, and the thick layer of gold alloy prevents tarnish from occuring for a long time too. However, I always like to keep it real and want to educate my customers that while you certainly can do lots of things in your goldfill jewelry, and wear it daily with little effect to it, there is always certain circumstances or exceptions to this rule. While heavy coated with gold, it isn't fine jewelry. So, for a select few, there may be instances that tarnishing occurs quicker. But it isn't the norm.
WHAT ABOUT GOLD VERMEIL?
You may hear the term Gold Vermeil thrown around too; Vermeil refers to a high Quality Silver, that is coated with a layer of Gold. However, to be called "Vermeil", by US standards, the item must be coated in at least 2.5 microns of gold plating, and the type of gold must be 10K or higher (fyi: many of my items on my site, are gold over silver, and usually 14k or above, however my coating are about half of that , which is why I do not call it gold vermeil)!
Vermeil jewelry marries two precious metals together, so if you are someone who prefers to have a piece that is comprised of precious metals through and through, this category is for you. Yes, the plating can wear away like anything else, however it wont wear as quickly again as simple costume gold plate jewelry, and in some circumstances, you can have it replated!
If you happen to have allergies to lower base metals, your best option would be a goldfill piece or gold vermeil or sterling silver item!
SO THEN WHY BUY GOLDPLATE?
Gold plate will always have its place, and while its not something we focus on here, gold plated costume jewelry is great to just jump on a trend perhaps, or for something you only intend to wear a few times.
THE BEST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK?
If you are looking to get mileage out of your money( and who isn't these days, or any day for that matter?) then Goldfill, or Vermeil is your best bet! They marry durability, style, and great price points!
HOW TO CLEAN YOUR GOLDFILL OR VERMEIL JEWELRY?
Its been my experience that a soft polishing cloth or mild soapy water washed gently does the best trick! Always try to avoid brushing or scrubbing the surface as that will only expedite the tarnishing process!