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Gold Plated vs. Gold Filled Jewelry - What's the Difference?

The #1 Reason You Should Wear

Gold Filled Jewelry

Gold Filled vs. Gold Plated & Vermeil Jewelry


There’s one good reason you should wear gold filled jewelry vs. gold plated or vermeil jewelry. Don’t worry, I won’t keep you guessing too long, but first I wanted to go over what each of these types of jewelry are comprised of and how they are made. Ready?

Gold Plated

ˈɡōld ˌplādid/
  1. covered with a thin layer of gold.

Gold Plating is a method of covering another type of metal with a very thin film of pure gold by electroplating it. There is usually around 6 microns of gold on plated jewelry...that's 0.00023622 of an inch!

The downside of plated jewelry is that the gold finish won’t last – sometimes just days – and can chip, fade and tarnish easily. Sometimes all it takes is a finger swipe once or twice to remove the gold.

The gold on gold plated items is so little, that it’s immeasurable, making gold plated jewelry virtually worthless.


Examples of silver plated jewelry where the silver has come off, exposing the copper underneath.


Vermeil (pronounced vehr-MAY), which is a thicker level of gold plating over sterling silver rather than a base metal. To truly qualify as Vermeil, the plating should be a minimum of 2.5 microns thick and always over sterling silver.

The US Code of Federal Regulations defines Vermeil: "An industry product may be described or marked as 'vermeil' if it consists of a base of sterling silver coated or plated on all significant surfaces with gold or gold alloy of not less than 10-karat fineness, that is of substantial thickness and a minimum thickness throughout equivalent to two and one half (2½) microns (or approximately 1/10000th of an inch) of fine gold.”

Vermeil is more valuable than plated jewelry – it’s base is sterling silver, so it has a substantial weight to it as well. Even though it’s plated well, it’s still plated. It’s also usually plated in 24K gold so it appears more yellow than 14K or 10K.


Gold Filled

Gold-filled jewelry is much more valuable than gold-plated. In fact, there is almost 100 percent more gold in gold-filled items than is found in gold-plated items. Just as gold-plated jewelry is plated with gold, gold-filled jewelry is as well, but there is a big difference between the ways these products are made.

Gold-filled is legally required to contain 5% or 1/20 gold by weight.

Gold-filled is constructed in two or three layers. The core metal is jewelers’ brass. Single clad gold-filled has all the gold content in a single layer on one side. Double clad gold-filled splits the gold content into surface layers on both sides of the material. The gold alloy is then bonded to one or both surfaces of the brass core with heat and pressure. The bonded raw material is then sold as sheet or wire to jewelry manufacturers for use in designs.


You won't need to worry about gold-filled jewelry tarnishing, and even if you have an allergy to certain metals, you won't have to worry about allergies from metals such as nickel. You can't say the same about gold-plated jewelry. Gold-filled items have a much thicker layer of gold on them, and the gold is a much higher quality. In fact, it is just a step down from solid gold when it comes to quality.

Type of Gold Jewelry

Pros of This Type

Cons of This Type


Gold-Filled Jewelry

Gold-filled jewelry has a much higher amount of gold in it and is much more valuable than plated jewelry. This is a durable piece that will not tarnish or chip. It is also safe for those with metal allergies.

Gold-filled jewelry is more expensive than plated jewelry.


Gold-Plated Jewelry


Gold-plated jewelry is very affordable.

The amount of gold is so small, it’s immeasurable therefore it has no inherent value. This type of jewelry can also tarnish, chip and flake away. You can’t get it wet and it won’t last long!


And the #1 reason you should wear gold filled jewelry and NOT gold plated jewelry…. 

You can wear gold filled jewelry in the shower! 

That’s right – you can leave it on and not worry about the gold rubbing off like plated jewelry. I mean, who wants to spend even $10 on something that you won’t be able to wear when you get out of the shower?

The main reason we decided to use gold filled metal in our designs was obvious… we’re in the business of preserving memories and would hate for them to fade or rub off. We want you to wear your meaningful piece for many years to come without worrying about the quality or care, instead focusing on your special memory.  If you have any questions or comments, as always, we’d love to hear from you! Thanks so much!


Jen Carey

Inspiration Made Easy

Inspiration Made Easy

So, I hand stamp a lot of jewelry – obviously, it’s my job!  Some days I’m better at it than others. Some days, it’s a challenge. And then some days, I get a little help. Let me explain… Since we make jewelry that commemorates life events – both happy and sad – I hear a lot of amazing stories explaining the meaning behind the jewelry we’re creating for our customers. Quite often, I get “a feeling” – especially if I’m “in the zone” at my stamping block.

This particular day, while stamping a leather bracelet for a customer’s husband who had just lost his brother, I had an overwhelming feeling of peace. I stamped the resting place in map coordinates and then I looked down at Scott Norton’s name, it was stamped perfectly – and with such ease, I knew instantly I had a little help. I always waiver about telling our customers when something like this occurs. I never know if they’ll think I’m “out there” or strange or what, but this time I had to say something. This is how our customer, Rachael, replied –

“I know this is a little unorthodox but here is a video that will give you a glimpse of my brother-in-law. He was truly the most inspirational person I have ever known." 


Hmmm. I couldn’t wait until later that evening to watch the video, I even called my husband, Dan, to come watch it with me. There we sat - for over an hour. We watched many videos of the heroic Scott Norton and his loving family – some more than once. We were beyond touched, beyond inspired and forever changed. I urge you to watch these videos if you haven’t already. I can’t do them justice by trying to explain how selfless, brave, and admirable Scott Norton was. It’s something you must see for yourself.

There was a moment in one of the videos where Scott and his wife, Emily, were off to the side at a family gathering – it was quite possibly the sweetest most heart wrenching thing to watch.  A moment in time, a memory we knew Emily would cherish forever, Dan jumped up and said, “That’s it!  She’s gotta have that moment on a necklace!” Here’s a picture of Emily wearing her necklace engraved with a photo of her and Scott’s touching moment and Brian wearing the leather bracelet I stamped with such ease. Oh – and guess how easy it was to make the photo necklace?  A breeze.


The heroic story of Scott Norton and his lost battle to brain cancer at such a young age has changed both Dan and myself. We can longer complain about the small things and just when we’ve had enough, we remember Scott’s remarkable story and his positive upbeat attitude – never once giving up – and carry that inspiration forward.  We would like to dedicate this bracelet in Scott’s memory and will donate 10% of all proceeds to help his wife, Emily, and their 5 children. For those interested in learning more about how they can help, here’s a link to the fundraising page set up by the Norton family: 


We are honored to make this bracelet in memory of Scott Norton and grateful for the heroic lessons he left behind. To purchase our coordinate bracelet with his resting place (you can personalize however you'd like), please click the following link:


Hand Stamped vs. Engraved Jewelry

Hand Stamped vs. Engraved Jewelry

 What is the difference between Hand Stamped and Engraved Jewelry?


We get this question many times a day, so I thought I’d give you the low down.  Here at TMB Jewelry, we decided to offer both hand stamping and engraving because….well, there are 2 types of people in the world – those that like hand stamping…and then those that like engraving.

Let’s get to it, shall we?


Hand stamping and engraving are both techniques used to personalize jewelry. One is done by hand (obviously) and one is done by machine (although engraving was originally done by hand until technology advanced.)


Engraved Jewelry 



Most engraved jewelry today is done by machine for a variety of reasons. For one thing, machines eliminate human error. There are a few different types of engraving machines on the market today - some engrave by laser and some by a diamond tip.  A neat finish on both front and back of the surface, engravings have a ‘perfect’ look with evenly spaced and consistent indentation of letters.

Engraving software greatly increases personalization options. Fonts are limitless making monograms a breeze. Now you can even have an image or photo engraved on jewelry.

Here are some examples of the possibilities you can achieve with an engraving machine: 


Hand Stamped Jewelry   


Hand Stamping is performed by hand using steel stamps and a hammer (as pictured above) – one stamp at a time. The Stamper lines up the stamp by eye, holds it in place with one hand, and with the other hand, hits the end of the stamp with a hammer to impress the letter into the metal. Hand stamped jewelry will have variations in character depth and spacing. It might even be crooked. Sometimes, marking or indentation can be visible on the back of the piece created by the movement of the metal.

The charm of hand stamped jewelry is the rustic imperfection. At The Modern Bazaar, we consider Hand Stamping an art form and each Stamper has their own unique “handwriting” visible on each handcrafted piece.  

Side story:  You might have noticed that my steel stamp plate is embedded in a tree stump.  After a year or so of hammering away, my family had enough of the loud noise!   So, what did Dan (my husband) do????  He went out and cut down a tree (not to worry, it was already dying), dragged it home and carved out a space for my stamping plate to rest.  You wouldn't believe how much quieter it is!  Now, I can stamp late into the night without disturbing anyone and all is good - and quiet.

Below you will find photos of our hand stamped jewelry.

Now that you know the difference, which one do you prefer?

Can you tell which were stamped and which were engraved?